This past week we took a trip up to Behaviour Interactive to get an extremely early look at Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade. Everything you are seeing on the site this week (videos are coming soon!) is literally pre-alpha gameplay footage. It is great that a studio like Behaviour is willing to show us this early gameplay footage. Studio Head Miguel Caron continues to break down the barrier between his team, the press, and fans. Early gameplay on any title is critical. It is the core of what makes the game fun. Polish and tighter design can be added later, but the basic combat and systems are your foundation, especially in a PVP title like 40K. We got to play an early alpha build of the game and here is what we learned…it’s awesome! But you probably wanted more than that, so read on.
Eternal Crusade comes in as a full-on fighting MMO. There are some quests in the design and a lot of progression but the real joy is forming up with your squad and going out to take objectives or ambush the other factions. Like Miguel told us back at E3 2013, there’s a lot of Planetside 2 inspiration here. The planet they showed us is HUGE. Eldar, Space Marines, Chaos, and Orks will be the first to arrive on the scene to fight it out (yes, the team is very serious about adding more factions). The basic fight demo we had was between Dark Angels and Word Bearers. They had Tactical (Bolters) and Assault (Jump Packs) in the alpha. The base was set up even with some of the obstacles not filled in, but it did not matter. Once in your power armor, the war was on. I started with a Dark Angel Assault Marine and jumped my way around the board trying to engage Word Bearers with my chain sword. It was fast and furious. Miguel and I had talked about how critical the speed of combat is and the team is delivering it early.
For 40K fans, if you had played THQ’s Space Marine and entered into the PvP multiplayer you could easily relate to this early build. You will see it in the video. The battles were similar to those scenarios except they never ended we could have played all night! Here is the thing to remember, last year’s Space Marine is their starting point for combat. But again, it’s just a starting point. The game will be building on that core gameplay and adding a ton more to what a character can do. Miguel already explained that they want to add options to melee combat with power weapons and chainswords. There was blocking in the game but we did not even use it. We were having too much fun hacking each other apart. I was a huge fan of Space Marine and love that the combat from that game is only the beginning. If you enjoyed the feel of the action in that title, you’ll love what Behaviour has in store.
So we battled it out in the fortress as you will see in the videos. The Bolt Pistols and Bolt Guns worked extremely well and targeting at range was fairly easy. You could switch to a tighter over the shoulder view in the demo as well to really focus in. Cover was already in place and you will see shots flying off of walls as they hit. You could duck behind objects or hide behind walls. The jump packs allowed plenty of movement around the board, but with the assault marines you had to get in close. The tactical marines could climb objects and take up firing positions from on high as well. I ended my time with a great spot on a tower and blasting Word Bearers from on high until one of them jumped up to get at me.
For those excited about the Orks and Eldar fear not. We did see a ton of concept coming into the studio and several computers were showing us the designs for both races. For now they were just not in the playable pre-alpha. However, the Eldar looked amazing and some of the custom skins you will have allows for a ton of options. I personally cannot wait to fight with the Orks and see how their big choppas do in close combat, also how wild their shooting might be. Some of the other elements we did see in the studio were Rhinos on fire, lots of the planet’s landscape, and models for the Dark Angel’s Terminator armor.
I left the studio up on Montreal fully satisfied as a fan of the 40K universe, and wanting more. The combat was extremely frenetic and felt tight even this early in development. If you liked Space Marine then that is only the beginning. Miguel and his team are building on that game’s already powerful combat system. Michael Chan who we spoke to in an interview explained that progression, weapons, and armor are all going to grow as you play the MMO. There is so much depth coming to an already solid foundation for this game. Keep in mind all of the footage you are seeing this week is before any full alpha build. With that in mind we cannot wait to see where the Behaviour team takes us into the 41st Millennium. Thanks to Miguel and Behaviour for showing us gameplay long before any other studio would even consider it.
Garrett Fuller / Garrett is the Industry Relations Manager for MMORPG.com, and lover of fine beer as well as orks.
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