Catalyst Black for iOS preview: An engaging team experience with varied modes and loadouts

Catalyst Black Key Art Primal
Catalyst Black Key Art Primal (Image credit: Super Evil Megacorp)

Mobile gaming gets better and better every year. Just look back even five years ago and you'll see that a massive shift has taken place in the mobile space, with more studios bringing larger, more high-quality experiences. There are more control options, gameplay has become more elaborate, and phones have become more responsive.

I recently had the opportunity to attend a preview for one such impressive iOS game, Catalyst Black, developed by Super Evil Megacorp and coming to both iOS and Android. If it looks at all familiar, it might be because it was shown off during the iPhone 13 Pro Announcement during last September's Apple Event. While the game takes advantage of the latest tech in the iPhone 13 Pro it also works on other compatible iOS devices which run iOS 11.0 or later and have 1.1GB of space available.

This upcoming action shooter provides colorful graphics in a lush fantasy environment. It not only caters to different playing preferences through fun modes and customization options but it also provides an equally competitive experience for both touch control players and those who prefer controllers.

What Catalyst Black is all about

At its core, Catalyst Black is a team-oriented experience where friends can easily join parties together, communicate, and work to take down opponents. It is free-to-play but does offer in-app purchases.

Though it has colorful fantasy vibes, Catalyst Black also incorporates sci-fi elements. Players use guns and abilities to meet certain goals and when a player dies, they respawn back at a pool after a short cool down. The deathmatch modes give players plenty of things to do aside from just defeating opponents.

Each time a player defeats an opponent, a blue crystal appears above their name letting the other players know what they've accomplished. Players will obtain more points if they defeat an opponent with more crystals on their name. There are also NPC creatures on the battleground to fight or items to acquire that can give additional perks. The round ends when a team reaches one of the predetermined goals within a mode.

Catalyst Black Game modes for different preferences

During the preview, I was shown the Slayer and Hydra modes, but there were at least eight game modes available in total with a mixture of PVP and PVE options. This range allows players to find the difficulty level they prefer as well as shake things up with different goals and strategies.

Slayer focuses on having your team defeat enemies and neutral monsters on the battleground in order to obtain points. The first team to 25 points wins. Certain creatures give more points, so you want to think strategically concerning who or what to go after.

Hydra is a more complicated mode with three ways to win. You either need to defeat a big boss known as an Overseer on the opponent's side of the battleground, collect 20 shards and bring them back to your team's harvest station, or kill each opponent three times. That way, if your team is getting decimated in one area you can focus your attention on a different objective and still win the round.

There are even more modes to uncover, each with its own win conditions and rules.

Catalyst Black Drop in multiplayer

Catalyst Black Gameplay Screenshot Players Fighting Lrg (Image credit: Super Evil Megacorp)

Super Evil Megacorp focused on making a multiplayer experience that allows friends to easily find each other, drop in on a battleground, and start playing together without having to wait very long. Specifically, if you already have a friend who is playing and you want to join them, it's easy to do so with just a few taps. Friends can also easily join parties and communicate together using voice chat without having to wait through long queues.

Catalyst Black Primals & customization

Catalyst Black Fighting Screenshot (Image credit: Super Evil Megacorp)

To keep things interesting, players can upgrade and customize their gear and abilities including what mystical primals they can turn into. This also allows players to customize things around their specific playstyle.

Customizing your loadout

Players can have seven equipped items at a time: Primary weapon, Heavy weapon, Ability, Trinket, Mask, Power, and Relic. Each of these items has a star ranking and you're encouraged to both collect more options and upgrade them around your playing preferences. Your equipped Trinket provides a passive perk while your Ability requires manual activation. There are 33 guns, 27 abilities, six primals, and 17 trinkets. You can mix and match your loadout to customize your character to your playing preferences.

Strategizing with Primal Masks

Catalyst Black Key Art Fighting (Image credit: Super Evil Megacorp)

To keep things interesting, Catalyst Black introduces Primals, which are powerful creatures that deal massive damage on the playing field. Players can also turn into these beasts for a limited time using Masks when certain conditions are met. When used effectively, primal powers can easily sway the course of battle, but you'll have to know when the correct strategic moment is to transform. Primals have different abilities and passive perks to choose from, but you'll need to select these options in the main menu before starting a round.

While turned into a Primal, your attacks shift from guns to extremely powerful magical attacks, your health bar becomes larger, and everybody on the map can easily see what a force you are. Opponents might also turn into Primals, so you'll need to defend your teammates against them. After turning back to normal, there is a cooldown period between Primal uses, but you can speed up that wait time by collecting crystals that appear on the battle arena.

Catalyst Black Touch controls vs controller support

Backbone One Ios Gaming Controller (Image credit: Joe Wituschek / iMore)

Self-proclaimed "AAA mobile developer" Super Evil Megacorp stated that "games should provide beautiful, responsive, and shared experiences regardless of the device or control mechanism they are played on." That belief is put into practice even when it comes to touch controls and controller support. The game supports both control options and, according to the team, offers an equally competitive experience regardless of which way you choose to play.

Additionally, you'll be able to use a number of different controllers, whether you prefer playing with a console controller like the Xbox controller and PS5 controller or a dedicated iPhone controller like the Backbone One.

Catalyst Black Release date

Catalyst Black Players Shooting Primal (Image credit: Super Evil Megacorp)

This action shooter is set to release around the world on iOS and Android on May 25, 2022. You can pre-register now on Catalyst Black's official website.

Join in on the fun

Jump into the battlefield with friends to experience a brand new team-oriented shooter. The ability to acquire new gear and upgrade them gives the game plenty of replay value as you work with friends to emerge victorious. With different modes to pick from, your team can easily find an option that fits your play styles best.

Rebecca Spear
Gaming Editor

Gaming aficionado Rebecca Spear is iMore's dedicated gaming editor with a focus on Nintendo Switch and iOS gaming. You’ll never catch her without her Switch or her iPad Air handy. If you’ve got a question about Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, or just about any other Nintendo series check out her guides to help you out. Rebecca has written thousands of articles in the last six years including hundreds of extensive gaming guides, previews, and reviews for both Switch and Apple Arcade. She also loves checking out new gaming accessories like iPhone controllers and has her ear to the ground when it comes to covering the next big trend.