Shrapnel launches early access via Epic Games
US-based Neon Machine has kicked off its first early playtest of anticipated PC-based loot-extraction shooter Shrapnel on Epic Games Store.
Titled STX1 (Shrapnel Training Exercises One), it’s the first time the studio releases a game build to players worldwide via Epic Games, in addition to the 3,000 players who have picked up an Extraction Pack. Those players will be able to play the game in limited time slots during three eight-hour days.
The first event begins on 8th February, concluding on 10th February, with a prize pool of $100,000 in SHRAP tokens up for grabs.
The STX1 playtest lets users play as a character set at maximum progression level with access to a variety of weapons and the first Sigma ability called Sigma Wave. Sigma is the game’s collectible resource used to power up gear and abilities.
While the game is set for full F2P release sometime in 2025 on Avalanche, launching early access is a way for the team to collect data and feedback including player engagement times, most popular maps and assets, as well as more generally to test server stability and response time.
Working in tight bond with its community, the team highlights how STX1 and forthcoming playtests are a way for early supporters to influence the path of Shrapnel. So far, its wide base of followers has impacted game aspects such as design and narrative.
Neon Machine CEO Mark Long comments, “Throughout the inception and development of Shrapnel, feedback from our passionate community has always been invaluable, shaping the game into what it is today. We had a dream of breaking the mold of traditional game development, and our execution of early access gameplay puts players right in the driver’s seat, helping us steer towards a blockbuster-quality AAA first-person shooter game. This is both scary and exciting but with our community behind us as we progress through the different stages of the Shrapnel Training Exercises, we’ll continue to deliver on our promise to listen, reward and empower players and creators.”
Set in a dystopian world where players create nations and factions that battle for control and resources like Sigma, Shrapnel has garnered a steady following and much anticipation since its inception in 2021.
Developer Neon Machine, which consists of gaming veterans from companies including HBO, Microsoft, ConsenSys and NVidia, announced a $20 million funding round in October 2023, which was in addition to $10.5 million raised for Shrapnel in 2021. However, the studio’s journey has not been straight forward, but tainted by an ongoing lawsuit against controlling shareholder Cort Javarone. Despite this, the team has assured it “remains fully in control of the development, funding and operations” of the game.
To grab an Extraction Pack and play the game, visit the Shrapnel website.