Nexon, a developer many associate with Maple Story, Mabinogi, and FIFA Online, is now taking aim at the competitive looter-shooter genre with a live-service title, The First Descendant. The forthcoming shooter will boast a hybrid sci-fi and fantasy storyline with multiple playable characters, customizable gear load outs, and level design that places an emphasis on verticality. Furthermore, it is one of the relatively few titles currently being developed using Epic’s Unreal Engine 5.

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Game Rant spoke with Lee Beom-jun, producer of The First Descendant, about the game’s narrative, influences, and the switch that made Nexon’s team restart from scratch in early development. As a result, fans of Destiny, Warframe, and Borderlands – especially those with machines capable of getting the most out of next-gen graphical options – may have something to get excited about.

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The First Descendant’s Sci-Fi Threats, Fantasy Setting

The Last Descendants is another entry in the increasingly popular science-fantasy storytelling. Based on Beom-jun’s description, the result sounds something like Independence Day set in a world similar to Final Fantasy 14′s.

“The Descendant has a mission to protect the humans from the alien invaders, the Vulgus. In the past, Vulgus’ invasion led humans to the brink of extinction, but humans were able to stop the crisis together.”

Players take on the roles of “Descendants,” warriors who have inherited unknown powers that become humanity’s only hope against the invaders. This may seem like a familiar “chosen one” premise among video games as a whole, and the looter-shooter genre in particular, but it is also a model with proven success. Beom-jun said that as a live-service title, the core story surrounding the mystery of the Vulgus will receive frequent updates. He also said the game will launch with roughly 15 hours of story-driven missions, as well as the various multiplayer activities and missions that define the looter-shooter genre.

While titles like Destiny 2, Warframe, and Genshin Impact tell compelling stories, the health of those titles ultimately relies on the day-to-day replayability of their missions. Beom-jun believes the biggest draw for players will be raid boss battles; encounters with enormous enemies that parties of players must defeat in tandem.

The First Descendant’s Broad Influences

While Nexon is serious about dominating the looter-shooter genre on its own terms, the developer has looked to the best games in the genre, and some other classic shooters.

“We think that Warframe is a great game along with the Destiny series, the Division series, Outriders, Anthem, Borderlands, Halo, etc. Thus, we studied and worked hard to develop our game to stand proudly alongside these prominent titles.”

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Destiny and Warframe are clear visual and conceptual influences, and it is easy to see why Nexon would borrow from their templates. The long-running titles are the twin juggernauts in the “looter-shooter-as-live-service” space. They also feature similar stories that merge supernatural, or at least techno-magical sci-fi abilities with futuristic gunplay; a formula that also recalls EA’s now-canceled Anthem, and Square Enix’s Outriders. The game’s different characters can be likened to the different Guardian classes in Destiny, or Warframe‘s eponymous space ninjas.

Given stiff competition from these other franchises that have self-acknowledged similarities, Nexon will need a way to stand out from the crowd. Beom-jun recognizes the gravity of that challenge, which is why he made a difficult call. He had the time restart development on the game to ensure The First Descendant possesses something its older competitors lack: cutting-edge graphics.

Rebuilt for Unreal 5

Development had already started on The First Descendant using the latest version of Epic’s Unreal 4 Engine when Beom-jun decided that the game needed to make the jump to Unreal 5. The number one motivator for the jump was lighting. Nexon’s team was particularly enamored with Unreal 5’s capacity to use Lumen; Unreal 5’s dynamic global illumination and reflection system. Earlier this year, a Unreal 5-produced demo with near photorealistic graphics went viral; in no small part thanks to its incredible lighting.

Among competitors with similar premises, Lumen’s next-gen lighting system may be exactly what The First Descendant needs to stand out in the looter-shooter crowd. The team at Nexon certainly hopes this is the case, but fans will have to wait and see what comes of the project.

The First Descedant is currently in development for PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.

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