Oh, lord. Where do I even begin with this?
I bought into the hype when I saw this was on sale, and didn't do much research beforehand. It wasn't until I started up the game that I realized it wasn't by Harebrained Schemes, and looking over the news releases and even the Steam store page I saw an inexcusable amount of grammar and spelling errors.
The only good thing I can probably say about this game is that the graphics are amazing, and the game runs extremely well. The interface LOOKS better than Shadowrun Returns, but there's a hefty tradeoff for that, which I will talk about later in this review.
First thing I noticed when I started up the game was that the voice acting was absolutely awful, not just from an acting standpoint, but I could also hear background noise in the audio, meaning it was recorded in a less than professional setting, and obviously not checked for errors, which is a recurring theme in this game.
After that we get to the writing, oh god, the writing. The writing is so awful on so many levels. From massive grammar and spelling errors to a complete change of tense, not only is it hard to follow, but it's also obscenely bad in quality. As an amatuer writer, I was legitimately insulted to see this attached to the Shadowrun name. Harebrained Schemes had such masterfully written content in Shadowrun Returns, and there is clearly a lot of love and care put into their writing and editing.
And last we have the combat. I believe Rich Stanton from Rock, Paper, Shotgun put it best: "Think XCOM but without the dynamic combat camera. But that comparison is a problem in itself. I think XCOM’s amazing but Shadowrun Online really shouldn’t play like a poor man’s XCOM – yet it does."
The combat is dull, and uninspired with little tactical choice of consequence unlike in Shadowrun Returns. Many times I found myself screaming at my complete lack of options when I was faced with a group of men. Were this Shadowrun Returns, I could throw a stun grenade, frag grenade, phosphorus grenade, fire a shotgun, throw one of the many aoe spells, etc. In Shadowrun Online your options are to attack them with a single target ability, throw a weak AOE that rarely does much of use, or use a cone-based shotgun attack which misses far more often than it should. And this is what makes me question the purpose of this early access. This is NOT a role-playing game, despite the misleading title there. There is no interaction with NPC's or anyone beyond combat, which wouldn't be a problem in itself if the combat wasn't so dull and tedious. The cover mechanics and armor system speak of good ideas gone horribly wrong, and when you saddle this with all the previous problems, you get a train wreck that not only functions as a bad game, but also functions to collectively cheapen the Shadowrun franchise.