E3 2014 – Battlecry Hands-on Impressions

Battlecry seemed like my kind of multiplayer game from the get go. Coming out of a very positive presentation at the Bethesda booth, we quickly got our hands on time with the game. My hopes were then confirmed, even this early on in Battlecry‘s development.

Heading this project is Battlecry Studios, a company put together by remnants of a number of different studios with very strong portfolios behind them, with games like Half Life 2 and Dishonored.

The demo at the booth was broken up into two teams of six, but the final version of the game will put 32 simultaneous players into the fray. Balance wise, having fewer players on the field did show how big the maps were and gave me the chance to explore a little before dying horribly.

Battlecry_SliceThe premise is admittedly quite bizarre. In an alternate reality, World War I happened more than a century before, resulting in the banning of gunpowder and the enforcement of specific areas where fighting can take place exclusively. Bows and swords become prominent in the field, as factions settle their differences with war.

Two factions were shown during the presentation and were available at the follow up hands on demo: the Royal Marines, a group heavily inspired by Victorian era England and the Cossack Empire, their Soviet counterparts. Out of the five classes that are going to be in the final game, three were shown during gameplay and boiled down to the standard archetypes seen in shooters.

None of the set classes are locked to any particular play style – they’re incredibly flexible in hairy situations. The tech archer for instance, offers its namesake as well as a couple of mid range options, as well as a few debuffs that might help leave an enemy vulnerable for follow up attacks from your team, for instance.

On the other hand, both melee characters played incredibly different. The close ranged, shield bearing enforcer is the powerhouse of the bunch, but also manages to be nimble enough to close the distance very quickly and dangerously. Looked at the duelist showed a deadly in any range, but tends to die quickly. The overall balance felt really good right off the bat, even though, personally, I leaned on the ranged type, mostly due to my style of play.

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The last two classes teased by Bethesda that weren’t in the demo were the brawler and gadgeteer, are set to be available at launch. According to the presentation at their booth, Bethesda wanted to make sure that the game will be fully-featured and completely playable in a free to play model.

Coming back to Dishonored, its art director is the one heading the look of Battlecry and it shows. Battlecry feels like a cross between Team Fortress 2 and Dishonored, giving the game a very painterly aura to environments and characters. The two factions shown also look particularly unique and contrast well.

As it stood at the show, even in alpha form, Battlecry played incredibly well. The third person perspective really adds to the overall cartoony look of the game, and according to the producer on site, during the presentation, Battlecry Studios wants the player to see their characters and expand their look via DLC.

It’s impressive to see such an effort be made towards bringing a multiplayer only game to free to play in anything other than a negative light. There’s much to be excited for 2015, and after E3, Battlecry is up there in my list.

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