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Atlas Fallen - Tips and Tricks for Beginners

Atlas Fallen - Tips and Tricks for Beginners

Written by Eric Hauter on 8/9/2023 for PC   PS5   XBSX  
More On: Atlas Fallen

Atlas Fallen, out today from Deck 13 Interactive and Focus Entertainment, is a massively entertaining open world RPG. Though the game is intuitive enough to become second nature by the time you reach the midpoint, getting started can be a bit overwhelming. The game’s many systems stack and play off each other, and getting your bearings during the game’s opening hours is more difficult than one might expect.

Atlas Fallen does a decent job of teaching the player to navigate its menus and the complexities of the combat system, but we all know how eyes can glaze over when a game blasts you with too many paragraphs of information at once. One unlucky button press, and some much-needed information is gone forever. As someone that obsessively played the game over the last couple of weeks, I wracked my brain and came up with these tips that can help folks just starting out in Atlas Fallen. Read up, and before long, you'll be swooping through the skies and wrecking wraiths with the best of them.

Atlas Fallen combat basics – in plain old English

Atlas Fallen has a very unique and cool combat system, but it might feel a bit impenetrable the first few times you engage with it. There’s a lot of menu-driven set-up involved to keep the wheels of battle cranking along nicely, and it’s easy to get lost at first.

Your default attacks are on the Square and Triangle button (I was playing on PlayStation, so just sub in the X and Y Xbox buttons). You start the game with two weapons (a third is added in the first five hours or so). These weapons can be mapped to the two buttons, which you can then button-mash for the game’s spectacular basic combos. Though these weapon slots are labelled “primary” and “secondary” in the UI, from what I can tell, there is no difference in how they act, regardless of where you map them.

Your weapon mapping selection basically comes down to preference. Play around and see what weapon you enjoy most, and map that to the primary position, then take your second favorite and map it to the secondary. In my case, I got rid of the hammer completely and played the game happily without it. There is no wrong choice here.

Your bumper buttons are critically important to combat. The R1 button is your dash/dodge button, so get used to using that button to get out of danger. Before long, you will gain the ability to air-dash, and with the correct timing, you’ll be able to use that R1 button to fight entire battles in mid-air, which can be spectacular. But even before that, the R1 will get you out of plenty of scrapes, and give you enough breathing room to adjust the camera to keep an eye on baddies that might have maneuvered behind you. 

The L1 button is your “Sandskin” button, which throws a temporary protective layer of skin on your character. This has the bonus effect of freezing any wraith that hits you while you are in Sandskin form, which opens them up for devastating attacks.

The timing on the Sandskin effect can be tricky at first – a little reticle glows red right before you get hit, but the window is very brief (think Batman enemies’ squiggly “I’m about to attack” lines, minus about 90% of the time to notice them). The Sandskin effect only lasts a split second, though there are ways a little later in the game to expand Sandskin’s effectiveness. But at first, just keep messing with it (and keep that dodge handy!), and you’ll get the timing down.

Your character is equipped with an Idol, which is essentially your mid-battle heal. This is activated by holding down L2 and clicking the Cross button. The idol works on a charge system, meaning that the more you whale on wraiths, the more charges your idol has. It’s usually a good rule of thumb that if you are down to about 1/3 of your total health, you should fire off your idol.

The important thing to remember about Idols is this: they all work, but some work better than others, depending on your build. They all heal, but they all heal in slightly different ways (over time, area of effect, etc.) Hunt around in the game, do some side quests, and you’ll soon have a little selection of idols to choose from.

These are your essence stones. Diamond-shaped are active powers, squares are passive boosts. They are color coded, so red is attack, yellow is defense, green is healing, blue is essence, etc.

Now for the juicy good stuff: The Gauntlet and the Momentum meter. As you battle, you will notice that a blue bar (right above your health) slowly fills. This is the Momentum meter. As the meter moves from left to right, various powers – as set in the UI with “essence stones” become active. Most of these are passive bonuses, but there are three that can be fired off as active supers, triggered by holding down L2 and tapping the face buttons.

These essence stone powers are hugely varied, and massively powerful – and there a zillion of them for you to find in-game and try out. In the early game, you will just plug in whatever you find, whether it gives you attack or defense bonuses. But as you discover more essence stones, you’ll start to see possible builds emerge, allowing you to focus on attacks, defense, heals, Sandskin, and more.

The push and pull in combat comes from the fact that as your Momentum meter build, you become both more powerful and more vulnerable to attack. This is a source of constant temptation, because at any time, you can press L2 and R2, and burn all of Momentum accumulated on the meter on one massive attack, known as “Shatter”. So, do you sacrifice all of the bonuses you have active in the middle of a heated battle to try to clobber a big boss with one giant hit, or do you maintain your bonuses and chip away at them (knowing that you are taking extra damage if you get hit)? Up to you, of course, but I will say that shattering a boss that has been whomping on your face can be hugely satisfying.

Don’t quit! Keep going!

As much as I love it, I must admit that Atlas Fallen definitely does not put its best foot forward. The opening of the game is laden with excessive lore drops, a wooden story, and some serious PS3-looking character graphics. You might take one look at Atlas Fallen and think “The desert all looks the same, this game is boring and fugly, and I’m not going to play it.” This would be a massive error.

The maps are huge (yes, there is more than one), and full of awesome stuff to find

Keep playing until the world opens up a little bit (maybe 90 minutes or so), and Atlas Fallen’s many riches will start to become apparent. This is a game that unfolds like a flower, and the more you play it, the more you will discover to love. The exploration in Atlas Fallen is stone-cold excellent, there are a ton of super cool side quests to pursue, the world design contains many surprisingly beautiful vistas, and the story gets a LOT more interesting. And don’t worry, those rather unattractive characters are mostly hidden throughout the game under super cool armor designs, all of which can be recolored and customized.

The point is, don't quit! Keep going! The good stuff is right around the corner.

Sell your dumb Artifact treasures, but hoard your materials

There is a lot of stuff laying around to find in Atlas Fallen, from lore journals to various plant life, from minerals to abandoned prosthetic limbs. You might be tempted in the early game to sell off everything that you find in order to build up your cash reserves. Don’t do that.

It turns out that cash isn’t all that important in Atlas Fallen. Most vendors have a light mix of treasure map pieces, some raw materials, and cosmetic stuff like armor dyes. In other words, it’s all easily ignored. When you go to a vendor, tab over to the Sell tab, and you’ll see a “Sell all Artifacts” button. Go ahead and sell all the dumb stuff you find (spinning tops, colored cloth) with one button press, and keep everything else. You’re gonna need it to build and upgrade your essence stones.

Sell all this stuff. Don't even think about it. Keep your flowers and minerals

Essence is everything

Unlike the relatively plentiful and useless cash money, the other currency in Atlas Fallen (known as “Essence”) is incredibly rare and precious in the early game. Essence is granted in return for finishing side quests and defeating monsters, both of which will take a bit of time to master.

Since it is used for everything from leveling up your armor to increasing the level of your various powers, you are going to have to make a lot of tough decisions about where and when to spend essence. Hoard! Hoard! Hoard! And especially...

Save up essence to upgrade your armor

You know how I just said that essence is everything, and you should hoard it? Yeah, you want to spend it on boosting your armor – but maybe not every armor set you receive.

Each set of armor in Atlas Fallen can be improved by spending essence, which will increase the level of most armor stats. There’s no way you’re going to have enough essence to increase every set of armor, so save up, then choose an early armor set (not the default nonsense you get at the beginning of the game) and increase it three times. Then you can rest on your laurels a bit – this should be enough to carry you into the mid-game.

As you can see above, upgrading your armor results in MASSIVE stat boosts

Don’t feel that you have to boost every set of armor you get – the increase in power you see will be incremental. Instead, save up your essence for a while, so the next armor you fully boost will give you a nice bump in stats and level. It’s important to remember that Atlas Fallen uses your armor level to (in part, at least) determine the level of enemies, so you can hold out for a while and you’ll be just fine.

And don't worry if you think that one armor looks cooler than the rest, and you really want to boost it but can't afford it. Atlas Fallen generously allows players to transmogrify any armor set to look like any other in your collection. So stats rule the day, and looks are a distant second consideration.

You cannot boost your friends’ levels with multiplayer

So, your buddy beat the game, and now you want to go run around with them to collect mad cash and level up all your stuff, then take that back into your game and dominate, right? RIGHT?

Sorry, y’all, Atlas Fallen isn’t having it. If your friend is too far ahead of you in the game, you can still play with them, hop into their story, and have a blast (the game will raise your stats appropriately), but anything you find/gain/upgrade will be lost when you return to your storyline. Atlas Fallen will just load up your last save, and you will sadly once again be broke and weak. Sad trombone.

If you really want to play the full game together, stick as close together in level and story as you can. That way, no one loses all their cool loots. 

Don’t sleep on your armor bonuses

Armors all come with bonus stats, as shown at the bottom of the in-game armor card. These bonuses are typically triggered by equipping a specific number of a certain type of essence stones, the fun little doodads that give you special boosts and powers.

For example, this armor offers +11 Offense and +6 Shatter and Fortune if you have the right essence stone types equipped

Though this isn’t easy to achieve in the early game when your collection is limited, if you explore around and do some side quests, you’ll soon have essence stones coming out of your ears. Don’t forget to go back and equip the correct number of the specific type needed (they are handily color-coded) to activate your armor bonuses. Armors are built to work synergistically with your powers, allowing you to create some ultra-powerful builds by focusing on the correct stuff. Activating your armor bonuses can take a good build into the stratosphere.

Don’t hesitate to bump down to Easy Mode for the first couple hours

Once you get into it, Atlas Fallen is not an overly hard game. But during the first few hours, before you have decent armor and essence stones, you might find yourself struggling a bit. And by “a bit”, I mean “getting your ass handed to you every time you attempt combat”.

Don’t be shy about turning the difficulty down to Easy for a while so you can get your feet underneath you. We won’t tell anyone. After a bit of acclimation time, you’ll be whomping on those wraiths with the best of them, and you can turn it back up to normal.

Experiment with your new stuff!

Atlas Fallen isn’t shy about bugging you to try new things. Your in-game buddy (who lives in your gauntlet) will regularly pipe up and advise you to spend some essence on your armor, or try out that new essence stone you picked up. And if you’ve been playing for a few hours happy with your current state, you might want to pause for a bit and check out what new stuff you've gathered.

Slot a few things out, slot a few new things in. You might just find that the change takes you from “very powerful” to “I’m a GOD!”. With different builds, you can make yourself into a glass cannon, make yourself damn-near invulnerable, or turn yourself into a healing machine for your buddy (if you are playing with a buddy). Just dork around a bit and see what combinations you can come up with. I guarantee there is something awesome and fun hiding in your gauntlet inventory.

Don't forget to experiment with your Idol types! Some are far more powerful for certain builds than others.

The “follow the stag” mechanic is weird, but worth it

Early on, Atlas Fallen stops you in your tracks and teaches you how to track stags across the landscape so they lead you to buried treasure. If you are like me, you will do it once and then immediately forget about it.

But when you eventually remember that it’s a thing, take the time to follow the stag. It only takes a minute; this is not one of those weird game mechanics that has you following some animal forever, and then the treasure never triggers.

At the end of the stag rainbow, you will usually find at least a treasure map (also worth hunting down), and at best you will have a new idol piece or a few new essence stone recipes. Whatever you receive, it's almost always worth the moment of time it takes. 

You can check to see what type of rewards you'll get for a side quest right in the quest log. Anything that gives essence as a reward is worth doing

 Atlas Fallen is well worth the effort

And that should be more than enough info to get you started on Atlas Fallen. If I had to leave you with any parting advice, it would be to take your time, explore the maps, and complete side quests. Most quests offer a really nice burst of essence as a reward for completing them, and many only take a few minutes, and you’ll find a lot of goodies along the way.

Atlas Fallen is a wonderful game once you’ve pushed past the initial barriers to entry. Exploring the world is deeply rewarding, and the combat system is amazingly flexible and fun to mess around with. Hopefully enough people give the game enough of a chance that a sequel is warranted, as I could see Atlas Fallen becoming a beloved sleeper franchise. Either way, we now have a great new open world game in hand, so get out there and see what you can see.

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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About Author

Howdy.  My name is Eric Hauter, and I am a dad with a ton of kids.  During my non-existent spare time, I like to play a wide variety of games, including JRPGs, strategy and action games (with the occasional trip into the black hole of MMOs). I am intrigued by the prospect of cloud gaming, and am often found poking around the cloud various platforms looking for fun and interesting stories.  I was an early adopter of PSVR (I had one delivered on release day), and I’ve enjoyed trying out the variety of games that have released since day one. I've since added an Oculus Quest 2 and PS VR2 to my headset collection.  I’m intrigued by the possibilities presented by VR multi-player, and I try almost every multi-player game that gets released.

My first system was a Commodore 64, and I’ve owned countless systems since then.  I was a manager at a toy store for the release of PS1, PS2, N64 and Dreamcast, so my nostalgia that era of gaming runs pretty deep.  Currently, I play on Xbox Series X, Series S, PS5, PS VR2, Quest 3, Switch, Luna, GeForce Now, (RIP Stadia) and a super sweet gaming PC built by John Yan.  While I lean towards Sony products, I don’t have any brand loyalty, and am perfectly willing to play game on other systems.

When I’m not playing games or wrangling my gaggle of children, I enjoy watching horror movies and doing all the other geeky activities one might expect. I also co-host the Chronologically Podcast, where we review every film from various filmmakers in order, which you can find wherever you get your podcasts.

Follow me on Twitter @eric_hauter, and check out my YouTube channel here

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