The First Descendant Looks to Breathe New Life Into the Looter Shooter Genre

Exclusive: Nexon's The First Descendant wants to shake up looter shooters through a combination of refinements and innovations. The dev team walks us through the game.

The First Descendant
Photo: NEXON

Among the most ambitious games providing a hands-on experience behind closed doors at Summer Game Fest 2024 was The First Descendant. Developed and published by Nexon, this online looter shooter lets players control various characters, known as Descendants, each with their own powerful abilities and subtle changes to play styles. Armed with a variety of futuristic weapons and gadgets, the Descendants traverse numerous rugged regions across the Ingris Continent while embarking on quests that pit them against waves of formidable enemies known as the Vargas and Colossal boss battles.

In an interview with Den of Geek at Summer Game Fest 2024, The First Descendant producer Lee Beom-jun lays out the scope of The First Descendant, teases seasons of updates to keep the gameplay experience fresh for players, and hypes up the game’s July launch across five different platforms.

Introducing the Descendants

The core feature of The First Descendant, as the title would suggest, revolves around the different playable characters: highly specialized warriors known as Descendants. Nexon has already unveiled an impressive 11 different Descendants players can choose from, as well as two Ultimate Descendants (augmented variations on the main Descendant roster). Three additional Descendants and three upcoming Ultimate Descendants have been teased, with Lee confirming each season will see the release of plenty of new content, including new playable Descendants.

Among the more memorable Descendants that stood out from the SGF hands-on build were Bunny, (who charges up electricity as she runs which can be discharged in a crowd-clearing attack after a double jump), the helmeted tank character Ajax (who can create a forcefield), and Lepic (a Descendant who specializes in various grenade attacks). For most of the hands-on build, I played as Lepic, favoring assault rifles and sniper rifles for most of the combat before clearing out large numbers of more overwhelming enemies with Lepic’s supply of grenades before deftly grappling away before being surrounded.

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“We have different characters who use the same weapons and same grappling as common factors,” Lee notes, pointing out the baseline gameplay similarities. “The different characters have different skills which players can experience as they embark on different quests. We also have a co-op system so players can see the other characters’ experiences as well.”

Frenetic Action and Customization

Though players can venture off and complete quests on their own (with the developers conscious of designing The First Descendant to accommodate this), Lee believes the game truly thrives as a cooperative experience. Teams of up to four players can join in on quests together as they explore the distinct regions of the Ingris Continent. When facing waves of enemies uniquely tailored to each region and the Colossal Bosses where The First Descendant escalates its third-person shooter action, having the extra firepower with allies present is especially appreciated.

“We planned each of the enemies to be structured within the world of this game. Each enemy has functions, for example, some will create a protective shield around themselves. Each enemy has their own abilities and skills,” Lee explains. “We put a lot of detailed effort into designing the Colossal Bosses, in terms of the mechanics, designs, and overall structure of the bosses to make for a more interesting and dynamic battle experience that we have in the game.”

A Full Invitation Into the World of The First Descendant

Nexon has steadily been branching extensively into the North American market, particularly after the success of the online team shooter The Finals this past December. For The First Descendant, Nexon is rolling out an ambitious launch, with the game available in 12 different languages at launch and released on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC. In developing The First Descendant for multiple platforms to put it before the largest possible audience, Nexon was complimented for their efforts in getting such a large game to run on previous-generation home consoles.

“Microsoft and Sony were really impressed with how we got the game onto Xbox One and PlayStation 4 because our game was developed in Unreal Engine 5,” Lee recalls. “We worked so hard on the optimization of the game, and they were really impressed.”

Apart from the Descendants themselves, the game has a vast system of customization options readily available to the players, including weapon loadouts, skins for each of the Descendants, modules to augment the various character abilities, and more, with hundreds of combinations possible at launch. With The First Descendant always intended to be a live-service game, Lee hints at numerous seasons of future content already planned to follow after the game’s launch, which will not only add more customization and additional playable characters but advance the game’s overarching narrative.

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“The updates will continue the main story seasonally,” Lee reveals. “We’ll be adding new Descendants with every season update in order for us to provide more immersive gameplay. For people who are attached to their characters, we’ll be adding more to their stories through new season updates.”

Developed and published by Nexon, The First Descendant launches July 2 for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC.