This is a new multiplayer game that’s already gone viral, and for good reason. It turns traditional gaming on its head with one-on-one gameplay from an intense cardio workout instead of sitting in front of your TV. The creators are still working out the final kinks before they release it to the public so if you’re interested, get hyped and sweat!
At a press conference dubbed Project Xandata Combine on March 9, 2022, Manila-based outsourcing firm turned game development studio Secret 6 presented its plans for Project Xandata, the very first Filipino-made, Filipino-styled first-person shooter game. What began as a personal endeavor for game director Gene Gacho rapidly evolved into a studio-wide passion project. Project Xandata wants to blow through the front door and make a dramatic entry as a flamboyant, 90s-flavored vintage shooter with a Filipinos who look to the future flair, with an extremely fast-paced 3v3 gameplay inspired by classics like Quake and Destiny. Get pumped up and sweating.
Project Xandata will be launched on Steam on March 22, 2022, and will remain a PC-only product for the time being. The game’s primary competitive mode will be released later, but the game’s other quick-play and arcade modes will be accessible right now.
Filipinos who look to the future
We wanted to demonstrate the rest of the world that this advanced technology can be created and manufactured right here in the Philippines. However, it is equally critical that we show the world what the Philippines is like.
— Game Director Gene Gacho
While Project Xandata’s game concept draws inspiration from Quake, Destiny, and Halo, its visual direction, which is infused with Filipino culture, names, and history, sets it apart from most other FPS games. Its graphic design incorporates patterns and color palettes from the 1990s, a period that many Filipino gamers remember fondly, with Product Manager Mig Sevilla mentioning Mega Man as an influence on the game’s art style.
Gene Gacho has also said that the team wants to break away from the precedent established by other successful FPS games currently on the market by developing a class-based shooter rather than a hero shooter. While there are named characters in Project Xandata, Gacho noted that the idea is for players to feel as if they ARE their Xandat, allowing them to discover their position in the game’s universe.
According to Gacho, the game’s team dynamics were designed with smaller clusters and bigger stakes in mind.
In 5v5, it seemed as though you could hide behind some of your more powerful teammates and let them carry you. But in 3v3, if someone on your side dies—I’m talking about the competitive mode where you can’t respawn—it seems like losing one person in a 3v3 is significantly more significant than losing one person in a 5v5.
Gacho also emphasized the ability for clutches that last-man-standing players have in a 1v3 against a 1v5, where they may be quickly overrun.
Overcoming Obstacles through Double-Jumping
As a new FPS game, Project Xandata is believed to be ready to overcome the usual stumbling blocks that most FPS games face, particularly for Southeast Asian gamers. Latency, cheaters, and toxicity are examples of these. According to Gacho, a lot of work went into selecting reliable servers with reasonable latency regardless of where gamers connect from. He claims that they’ve found a nice match that meets the game’s requirements for the players.
In order to reduce toxicity, all team communication is disabled in the present form of the game. At the conclusion of each battle, enemy players will only be allowed to flex and style on vanquished opponents via visual gestures. Filters for swearing are also activated upon startup.
Easy Anti-Cheat will be released with Project Xandata.
Based on our previous experience as first-person shooter gamers, it’s difficult to entirely eliminate toxicity and [comb] through your playerbase. At the moment, our strategy is more community-based, in which we just need to pay attention to how our gamers engage and stay on top of things in general. We’re also working on mechanisms that will hopefully help us keep a better eye on things.
Product Manager Migs Sevilla
Are you prepared for esports?
According to Secret 6, Project Xandata’s fate as an esports title is completely reliant on whether or not the player community wants it to be.
We’ve seen a lot of corporations attempt to build an esports game and sell it as such straight away, but ultimately, the community chooses whether or not a game is an esport.
Game Director Gene Gacho
Despite this, Gacho has said that Secret 6 is open to a grassroots, organic approach to establishing an esports community for Project Xandata post-launch if demand exists. According to Sevilla, custom game modes for tournaments are being built but will not be made accessible to the general public. To arrange Project Xandata competitions, event organizers must contact Secret 6’s marketing department.
When it comes to where we want our playerbase to be, we want them to be continually queuing in the quick-play ladder, arcade modes, or even the competitive version (ranked mode) when it launches.
Product Manager Migs Sevilla
Xandat has arrived for duty.
All of this sounds fantastic, but how does the game play? During Project Xandata Combine, we had the opportunity to line up against and fight the game’s developers in an early press build. As a VALORANT player who prefers to strategize and execute, I have little experience with movement shooters, having only played Team Fortress 2 and Star Wars Battlefront II Classic in the past. The designers then trampled on my normally methodical and strategic playstyle, tenderizing my rear buns and serving them back to me on a plate, freshly seasoned and grilled. It was a thrashing, but man, was it a nice thrashing.
The gameplay in Project Xandata is slick, and the gunplay is solid (even when my dexterity isn’t). Maybe it was the coffee that had my blood flowing and nerves tingling, but being pitted against the greatest of the best got my blood pounding and nerves tingling. It’ll always be daunting for me to load into terrain I’ve never seen before, but the joy I had firing my beloved Amorsolo revolver was well worth the money.
The game’s aesthetics bring across the fun, Filipinos who look to the future feel the devs intended excellently, despite the early build’s lack of overall visual polish. I will always be an advocate for gameplay over graphics, and Project Xandata delivers the gameplay well. It may be overwhelming for new players, but the adrenaline hits different for everyone.
However, while playing, I felt that there were still a lot of things that needed to be improved. For one thing, the game’s sound design and soundtrack in general seemed lackluster and invasive. Simply stated, the game’s sound design lacks punch and intensity, resulting in an acoustically watery overall experience. The sound effects aren’t bad—the Agent class’s BFK is fantastic, and the UI is crisp—but I found them to be missing in my opinion. With extended speech lines that attempted to give personality but just made me want to shut her out even more, the in-game announcer became incredibly tiresome very soon. Simple “Battery dropped!” or “Team wipe!” statements with a few spicy one-liners would be better than a steady bombardment of snark that takes the focus away from the game.
I was also underwhelmed by the game’s title, video, and in-game music tracks, particularly as an electronic music artist who grew up liking Wily Fortress 1 from Mega Man 2 on the NES. In-game, I could hear the Mega Man-style rock influence, but all I remembered afterwards was laughing about how it sounded like Ludwig Göransson’s “The Mandalorian,” but on a 90s synthesizer preset kit. Given its combination of sci-fi, magic, and Filipino culture, Project Xandata’s music might have been so much better, but it felt flat for me.
Without the use of HP Bars and team identifiers, it was also impossible to distinguish between enemies and comrades. I’m not colorblind, but at medium to close range, the transparent red and blue overlays got difficult to distinguish. As a consequence, moment-to-moment gaming was perplexing. Finally, owing to the tiny size of the HUD indications, I found it difficult to monitor ammunition and cooldowns. It would be a fantastic improvement to scale them up to make them more legible at a glance. Despite these early flaws, I can confidently state that Project Xandata is an outstanding example of what Filipinos can do in the video game business. I’m interested to see where this project develops, and I wish Secret 6 and their passion project the best of luck.