[UPDATED 1/30/2020] A comprehensive first look at Black Survival: Eternal Return

UPDATE 1/30/2020:  Black Survival: Eternal Return has yet to finalize a release date, and is planning to launch a 5th alpha test period within the next month or two.



Black Survival is opening a new chapter. Black Survival: Eternal Return will be the game's first official expansion since its release on February 5th, 2016. Eternal Return will be available for PC.

▲ Image Source: Nimble Neuron

The Experiment

Black Survival combines real-time survival gameplay with item and material crafting akin to the MOBA and RPG genres. This eclectic array of gaming elements are contained in a small, dark map on a mysterious island called Lumia.  Ten players fight in the ever-shrinking map to survive in a Battle Royale style winner-take-all competition. 

Black Survival: Eternal Return is the 3D PC version of its 2D graphic, 1st generation mobile predecessor. In addition to adding the third dimension, player size has also been increased by a third. Instead of the previous cap of ten, a total of fifteen players will spawn into Lumia in a survival deathmatch higher stakes and thicker competition than previously seen in Black Survival.

Nimble Neuron, the subsidiary of Neptune who developed Black Survival, has held open alpha and beta tests. It is planned for there to be one more test period in November before the game's release at the end of January 2020. 

The Calm Before the Storm

Black Survival: Eternal Return opens up with the familiar ominous, piano driven cadence that has graced the menu since the game's original launch. Unfortunately, the clarity of the optics does not match the famialirity of the audible. Black Survival wouldn't be Black Survival with a Fortnite color palette, but the monochrome tones of the menu only reinforce the confusion caused by the SinglePlayer vs. AI mode's difficulty pop out menu. 

Because the pop out menu appears directly over the game mode, obstructing it from view, it almost looks as if the menu is for the mode that is NOT selected. This leads to a confusing loop that is enforced by the lack of contrast throughout the menu and its various contents.

In addition, the syntax of the langauge utilized in menus both in and out of game in BS: ER is not always accurate, which can be initially confusing. For example, the menu button used to craft a new item out of other items materials or objects states "Crafting" implying an in-progress transaction, when it should say "Craft" as the button serves the purpose of triggering the action of the craft.


While these types of mistakes are often fixed before a game's release, they are worth noting as they could cause confusion in the next round of public testing should any grammatical errors remain unratified.

The Cast

BS:ER starts with six playable characters, each with varying stats for Attack, Armor, HP, and Stamina. Attack and Armor decide how much damage you deal and receive in combat, HP is the total amount of health your character has, and Stamina is the 'mana' of the game, utilized as a secondary resource for special abilities. Because of the expanded 3D, PC-housed confines of Eternal Return, the scope of character abilities, as well as the total amount of abilities a character can have, is far more expansive.

Jackie Quilt is a serial killer from the U.K. whose weapon of preference is a chainsaw. Suzuki Aya is a Japanese police officer with an authentic passion for justice and a tragic family background. Indonesian archer Nadine was proclaimed dead, but was raised by wild animals as the only srivvor of an accident. Magnus, the leader of USA motorcycle gang LATHAM, also brings his braun to Eternal Survivor at the game's onset.

▲ Image Source: Nimble Neuron

However, no character is quite as striking as HyunWoo. The young man with no ambitions, hopes or dreams rushes into battle with little to no weapons or garments, brawling with his hands and feet to fill the void inside of him. Hyungwoo's kit also includes abilities that allow him to run headlong into the enemy in a reckless tackle to lower their defenses or stomp on his enemy for big circular damage.

Unfortunately, Fiora leaves the most to be desired of the six characters available at the beginning of BS:ER. The French fencer hones her craft as a way to prove herself to her father in a recognition-seeking act of rebellion. However, League of Legends players will roll their eyes at another french fencer of the same name as The Grand Duelist,  and while Fiora's gameplay isn't inherently problematic or dysfunctional in any major way, she simply leaves a lot to be desired in all aspects.

There are four greyed out blank character portrait squares on the character select screen as well, implying at least four more Black Survival experiments will be joining Eternal Return's starting six.

The Game

The average game of Black Survival: Eternal Return goes something like this:

          1. Select a zone on the island to began leveling up by slaying monsters and looting
          2. Decide on your item core and utilize the minimap to find the required materials for crafting.
          3. Choose the spells you want to specialize in to transition into the mid-game. 
          4. Survive the mid-game by either staying out of trouble and crafting or chasing low HP players.

The Crafting mechanic is one of Black Survival: Eternal Return's hidden gems. The versatility and customization in how one can spec out their item build, weapons, clothing, and gear provides endless possibilites of approaches to each character. However, crafting is a process requiring investment of time to search for components, and the game's pace isn't necessarily going to allow a complete item build, so being decisive and knowing how to play to your strengths is crucial. 

▲ Image Source: Nimble Neuron

As the list of the living thins ou and the late-game begins. , the map will also shrink, with certain zones becoming off-limit zones that deal damage before killing you immediately if the threat level of the area is to raise. Players' first death by exploding in a threat zone may come as a surprise as the danger is not properly indicated in the lack of intensity of both optic and audible queues relatively to the stark, bonechilling nature that is Black Survival's bread and butter.

The standard battle royale gameplay experience is highlighted by bright, engaging environments, fast-paced combat, and large groups of competitiors fighting for the last surviving spot. However, Lumia's stark, hushed, and dense space is more reminiscent of Resident Evil than a soaring skydive from a flying blue bus. BS:ER boasts a genre-splice that puts a new spin on multiple popular types of games by taking the most compatible aspects of them all and optimizing them into one. 

▲ Image Source: Nimble Neuron

Black Survival: Eternal Return has more than a few nuts and bolts to tighten before being released at the end of next January. Outside of any unintentional mistakes, other adjustments that could be made would be giving other materials their own respective minimap icons instead of marking them all with the branch icon. The material icons could also be slightly smaller relative to the minimap, and the minimap size need not dwarf the rest of the HUD to the degree that is currently visible.

Despite its imperfections, Black Survival: Eternal Return's basic building blocks of competitive gamplay is coupled PERFECTLY with the massive amounts of customization in all facets of the game. The dynamic options for characters, builds, and tactical approaches could also lend itself to opportunities for new game modes or formats.

Black Survival: Eternal Return feels good to play, the animations are seamless, the scope of the game is not overwhelming at first impression,  and and the skill floor is low but the ceiling is high. Those planning to be a part of the experiemnt on Lumia can pick up BS:ER as early as January 31st, 2020 on Android, IOS, and PC. 

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