Good Ole' Hellgate: London
It feels like I've been reunited with an old friend again. If not everyone is familiar with the game, here's a crash course in some video game history. If you know the story, just skip this then.
In 2007, Flagship Studios, a small upstart company headed by Bill Roper and his band of merry men from Blizzard North released an online shooter style MMORPG, Hellgate: London.
The launch had its problems, and the company did as well. Due to some changes in relationships with their corporate backers, who were Comerica Bank and Hanbitsoft at the time, Flagship was forced to file bankruptcy and eventually closed the doors of the company as well as the servers for HGL (Hellgate London).
The property of the IP fell into Hanbitsofts' lap who began adapting and released it in the Korean market. Which I hear did quite well. Today, Hanbitsoft, along with T3 Entertainment began open beta testing of their version of Hellgate: London.
Something Old, Something New
For the players of the old HGL, most of what we know is still there. Its still a hub based shooter with upgradable weapons and armor. The loot is still random and starts with grey based items, then to green and then onto blue for rare, legendary and finally yellow for unique named items. One thing that is new is the addition of mythic level items and sets. The website said that sets will carry certain bonuses for wearing numerous items in the sets. This should be very familiar.
Mods are back; these were small items that carried stat bonuses that could be slotted into weapons with matching mod slots. These mods had levels that coincided with the level of the weapon, as long as you had the stats to carry it, you could upgrade it just fine. One thing that I noticed, some items don't have all the mod slots open, saying that you will have to pay somehow to have them opened. I'm not exactly sure if its through the item mall, or bought through an NPC. Only 5 hours into the game and it shut down for maintenance, so I figured I shoot a quick blog out.
Inventory is still a pain of bric-a-brac and the loot falls fast and furious. You can now buy expanions to your inventory but thats not enabled yet. A player can share loot with another character through the stash, but it says you will need a premium subscription for that. So we are looking at an item mall, as well as a subscription, but the community says it will be free to play. I'm wondering how this will be at the official roll out.
Some additions to your character: A mask slot, a slot for a T-shirt as well as jewelry items you can wear such as rings, necklaces and bracelets that will carry stat bonuses. Rumors of custom dye jobs are circulating.
THERE IS FINALLY A MARKET! In the starting area you can see an auction market console on the left hand side alongside the arena consoles. You can know start arena based battles of 1/1 up to 10/10. In my character screen there are records of wins and losses as well as my ranking level. Nice addition for the PVP crowd.
There is an email function built into the game. I got a secret package from the NPC and it gave me a 14 experience bonus package...because I'm just so awesome. I would wonder if they could use that to further immerse a player in the game by sending them secret option quests and such to complete. It would be nice to see something original like that in HGL. Old factions as well as some new ones I have seen in my characater screen. I'm wondering how that will play out if I get a higher standing. Will new quests open up? Better rewards? Too early to tell.
All the old quests are back: Mackenzie gives you the guns, Typhoid Mary still sweats green and the original questline is still the same. I've fell into bad old habits and had been farming Shulgoth when they notified us of downtime. One thing that is new is an area quest that has a kill counter of how many mobs you kill in the area, once that is full, an epic (purple) level mob will pop and give you even more sparkly, twinkly stuff when killed.
A whole slew of new achivements have been added. Some give you item rewards, titles or a slight stat increase when slotted into a small bar with 6 slots. I only have 1 open at level 9 right now, but there are also achievements that open up once you finish them as "challenges." Looks like a game of "gotta get 'em all!"
The UI is basically the same yet there are some additions. You can change the difficulty of the zone you are entering from the base. From Normal to Nightmare then finally Hell is the hardest. These difficulties raise the armor and hitpoints of the mobs, as well as experience gain and loot drops.
I killed Shulgoth on Hell difficulty and he gave me 3 legendary items. W00t!
The bad news.
The game does have an extensive item mall. Offering items such as experience rate increase, elemental protection items, ressurection items and a radar device to track special monster. Two things that interest me is an automatic dismantler that you can set the level of item to auto dismante which goes really nicely with the auto dismantler. Those cost 500 Tcoins each.
Tcoins are the currency used by T3 Entertainment. 1000 Tcoins = $1 USD
Are you sitting down? Ok, the shop carries an entrance ticket to act 3 of the game. In order to progress through the game past act 2, you have to pay $4.00 to do so. Not so bad was it?
"Nothing is free in this world, except love, and sometimes you have to pay for that" - Old Wall Street Proverb.
I play a summoner as I did in the past, its hard to let some habits go. Most of the skills and builds are the same except for a few additions. There is a Zombie mode which turns me into a melee monster which right now is bugged and stupid. I will not be using that.
All and all, it plays pretty well and the game is just as goofy fun as it was back in '07. With some interesting new additions to it, I can see some improvements that would have made this game great when Flagship had it. But that is in the past, its time to forge a new path through the denizens of hell. I would suggest that if you haven't played HGL when it ran through 2007-2008, give it a go. There are a host of interesting classes that can appeal to almost everyone.
Want to play a sniper, no problem, go with the Marksman. Want to play a summoner and stand behind while your troops cut through swaths of undead nasties, go ahead. However, if you want the best of both those worlds, then go with the Engineer class. Guns and robots are always a crowd pleaser. Duel weilding samurai swords? Got it. Sword and board guy? Got it. Hellgate: London had some great ideas at the time, it was a good game; now with some great minds behind it, I feel it could be a great game.
If you want to see for yourself, head over to the Hellgate website, create an account and jump on into the open beta. Even if you just want some nostalgia for the weekend, its worth a play.