PAX East 2023: Atlas Fallen hands-on impressions

I had heard so much about the upcoming title Atlas Fallen, and thanks to my hands-on during PAX East 2023, I got some time with the game. After speaking with the design director Jérémy Hartvick and being shown the ropes, I was let loose to do as I pleased.

Atlas Fallen is an interesting title, as the game changes up a few things that we’re used to in action RPGs. For starters, the game takes place in an area covered in sand, allowing the player to traverse this by bending the sand to their whim, which is interesting. However, it’s the momentum system, that is the star of the show. While games in this genre start the player off weak and eventually enable them to power up and wreak havoc, Atlas Fallen does things differently.


You’ll eventually power yourself up as you fight, providing access to new moves and abilities. However, in doing so, you ultimately will become a glass cannon. Momentum is gained by attacking, while the threshold is represented by a blue bar that sits below the health bar. There are more powerful moves that resume on this bar, but until you build up enough momentum to use them. My weapon also changed form as I moved up on the momentum bar.

I also noticed that while I attacked certain enemies, I could target certain parts while in combat. I imagine we’ll see a targeting system that debuted in The Surge series. Or at least, that’s what I’m assuming anyway. However, there’s also an ability that serves as an ultimate attack called the shattering, which will cause everything around you to pause and resets your momentum. You’ll lose access to those abilities and your power, but you’ll also take less damage. Eventually, players will be able to build themselves back up and by adding features via a skill tree and gems. All while being able to sustain their powerful selves and when enabling the shatter move.

The gameplay is fast and responsive, which allowed me to attack groups of enemies at a time, weaving in and out of their attacks, gliding on the sand to get behind them to get the jump on them. Or taking to the air, performing various attacks that ended with a powerful downward thrust. Combat-wise reminds me of that found in Darksiders 3 and Devil May Cry, and when I mentioned that to Jérémy Hartvick, he said that this was the goal. I just experienced what is possible and can’t wait to play more of the game.

One thing that I learned while speaking to Jérémy Hartvick is that Fallen Atlas is not a Soulslike game, and they don’t want anyone to think otherwise. While Deck 13 is known for several Soulslike games with The Surge 1 and 2, the developer wanted to do something different. Atlas Fallen is an action RPG to its core, regardless of what anyone would say other.


The game also includes a character creation tool that allows players to make digital avatars unique. This tool is pretty deep, and due to the demo being on hand at PAX East 2023, Deck 13 wanted anyone who tried the demo to jump straight into it.

I was already interested in Atlas Fallen, but now that I had a taste, I’m looking forward to diving into the game. I enjoyed the sand gliding, and the momentum system is refreshing, but I want to see how it affects players and how much leeway it affords.

The Atlas Fallen release date is May 16, 2023, for the PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.