Are heist games in vogue? The extraction shooter genre has heist-like qualities, and several literal heist games are on the way: Payday 3 and Monaco 2, probably GTA 6 next year, and now Fairgames (technically called “Fairgame$”), a “competitive heisting experience” in which players will target the ill-gotten wealth of the world’s billionaires and, presumably, try to extract it without being taken out by rival gangs of heisters.
Fairgames was announced at this week’s PlayStation Showcase, and comes from Haven Studios, a team founded by Assassin’s Creed producer Jade Raymond with lots of ex-Ubisoft talent. In a post on the PlayStation Blog, creative director Mathieu Leduc promises “emergent sandbox gameplay” and “a fresh multiplayer experience that rewards creativity and mastery”. Fairgames marks Haven Studios’ first big game in the wake of its acquisition by Sony from Google, which sold off the studio after shuttering Google Stadia.
“Fairgame$ will give you an opportunity to break the rules as a modern-day Robin Hood, a thrill seeker, or just someone who wants to collect cool loot,” writes Leduc. “Trespass inside forbidden locations around the world, fill your pockets like a kid in a candy store and unravel the nefarious plans of untouchable billionaires.”
It looks like we’ll use near future gizmos and gadgets to propel ourselves through scores of manned and unmanned security devices in between tense PvP encounters. Though it hasn’t been stated outright, the “get the loot and get out” nature of heists and tense PvP encounters sure make Fairgames sound like an extraction shooter along the lines of Hunt: Showdown or Warzone’s DMZ mode. My gut says that avoiding this language is deliberate, and points to Fairgames having de-emphasized gunplay, with more of a focus on non-lethal takedowns and stealth. (An interesting statistic we recently learned: 40% of Hunt: Showdown players have never killed another player.)
Just from the trailer, it looks like Fairgames addresses my biggest criticism of hack-the-planet spiritual predecessor Watch Dogs 2, where projecting the troll face onto city hall or whatever comes at the cost of double digit body counts due to a full-auto shootout with cops in the neighboring parking lot. Since Payday 2’s DLC completely divorced that game from reality, there haven’t been many games that offer an “authentic” heist experience a la Michael Mann’s Heat or the first five minutes of The Dark Knight, a niche Fairgames could fill.
However, while the TikTok-style voiceover and Deus Ex: Human revolution piss filter are probably supposed to appeal to my Gen Z sensibilities, I’m afraid they don’t quite land. It’s cringey in the Watch Dogs 2 way, with an unconvincing “eat the rich” slogan dropped early in the trailer and characters who seem to pair outfits from Shein with Destiny 2 Eververse cosmetics.
Hopefully that strenuous effort to seem cool doesn’t hold back a good heist game too much. If it’s fun, I’m always down to redistribute some wealth, even if I have to roll my eyes once in a while. Fairgames is planned for release on PC and PS5, but no date has been set.