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NetDevil
MMORPG | Setting:Sci-Fi | Status:Cancelled  (est.rel 04/11/06)  | Pub:NCSoft
PVP:Yes | Distribution:Retail | Retail Price:n/a | Pay Type:Subscription
System Req: PC | ESRB:TOut of date info? Let us know!

Roadhouse #3

By Laura Genender on July 05, 2005 | Previews | Comments

Roadhouse #3

In Roadhouse #3 We Learn About Loot and Items

This last Friday was the third Auto Assault Roadhouse, and once again I spent an entertaining hour with NCSoft and NetDevil learning about their upcoming game, Auto Assault! As always I came out of the teleconference surprised and pleased, both at the density of content — and at how much there was to say about a subject so seemingly small as “items and loot!”

First, lets talk equipment. Every piece of equipment in Auto Assault is different. Though item names and appearances are limited, the stats on an item are randomly generated when it is dropped. One Machine Gun Turret might have a range of 50 meters while another a range of 55, but the first might do more damage or have a faster reload. Similarly, different items will have different requirements. Sometimes these requirements reward specific attributes, and sometimes they favor generalists who spread their attribute points out.

There are hundreds of different weapon types in Auto Assault: machine guns, flame throwers, missle launchers, rail guns, magnetic resonance systems, plasma sprayers, lasers, goo sprayers, spike launchers, lightning cannons, and many, many more. These weapons are divided into four categories: front weapons, turrets, melee weapons, and rear weapons. Note that weapons only fit into one hardpoint (IE a front weapon could not be used as a turret) and that weapons can be easily switched out if you find a better one.

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Front weapons fire in a fixed arc in front of your car, so they require players to turn their vehicle to bring targets in range. Turret weapons have a 360º firing radius and can be locked onto a target. Melee weapons, such as spikes or blades, increase collision damage when ramming an enemy head-on. Rear weapons don’t appear in the game until mid/high level content, but they mount to the back of your vehicle and allows you to drop mines, oil slicks, and other nasty goodies. Weapons are dropped frequently enough that players will be constantly upgrading to “better” weapons — and because of the random stat generator, constantly deciding which weapons are better.

Weapons can also be upgraded after looting, via either Enhancements or Gadgets. Enhancements are either on the item when you loot it or can be added via crafting. Enhancements do useful things such as lowering the weight of an item or making a specific skill more powerful. Gadgets are separate items that are dropped that can be put into slots on the weapons. Sometimes these slots are already open, sometimes they are locked; locked slots can be open via the crafting skill “tinkering.” Think carefully before adding an Enhancement or Gadget to a weapon, as they can’t be removed once added.

Tied closely to weapons (and skills) are power plants, the items that keep cars running. With Auto Assault being set in the future, the three races have long outdated gas and other primitive power supplies. Your onboard power plants supply your car with the ability to move, fire weapons, and use skills.

There are, of course, a few minor details that a careful driver will have to worry about. For example, firing weapons and using skills will generate heat. If your car overheats your weapons will lock up for 6 seconds, which is a long time when under fire. Drivers will also have to worry about power management when using skills. If you run out of power, you can’t use your powerful special attacks!

Like weapons, power plants have different statistics that are randomly generated when dropped. Some power plants have exceptional heat management, others have a higher recharge rate, and some have a larger power pool. Choosing which power plant fits your class best takes careful consideration, but can really help you be a more efficient player. For example, a scout type class such as the Human Bounty Hunter is prone to sneaking in and firing off a quick volley of lethal attacks — a larger power pool would be most useful for this situation, since you don’t really have time to wait for your power to recharge.

Offense is only one end of the spectrum. A good driver, especially one playing a tank like class, will also invest in good armor. Armor gives cars resistance to various types of damage: Fire, Corrosive, Spirit and Energy. Some armor might be especially strong to one element while other armor might have lower resistances to all the elements.

Hood ornaments are the Auto Assault equivalent of car jewelry. Not only do they look awesome — who doesn’t want a glowing skull on the front of their car? — but they have special effects such as altering player attributes or creating glowing or trailing particles … not a very useful effect, but very cool looking. These items can be found or crafted.

One would expect Hazard Kits, the items used to enter Hazard mode, would be generic, statless items … think again. Even when not in Hazard Mode, the Hazard Kit on your car is hard at work. For example, the Mutant Hazard Kit gives bonuses such a regeneration bonus and the Human Hazard Kit provides a small amount of shielding. All of the numbers here are, you guessed it, dynamically generated.

No car is complete without wheels. In Auto Assault your vehicle can have two, four or six wheels, or treads. Wheels differ in appearance — some hubcaps might have spokes while others might have chrome, and there are different tread patterns too. Wheels also differ in friction values — if you are going up on a snowy mountain, you’ll need to equip snow tires or find yourself battling bad handling and lots of slipping and sliding.

Last but not least on the equipment front, the best part of your car (in my opinion!) are the tricks and trims. NetDevil was worried that players would all look the same because everyone wants to wear the best armor and use the best weapons; this problem was solved by adding in a category that effected nothing but looks. Tricks and trims include paints, paint stencils, and many more options. Players can collect sets or create their own cool look.

Just like loot stats, loot itself is dynamically generated, though different monster types are more likely to drop different types of items (IE if you kill mutated plants you will get organic materials, while killing mechs will get you mechanical materials). This means that there are only a few, rare situations where players will have to camp a monster to get a specific item.

NetDevil has done a few kind deeds when it comes to loot. When a monster you killed drops a piece of loot, you are the only person in the world that sees that drop. This means there is no drop stealing! Also, though most items are usable by all, a few items are specific to each race. To make matters less frustrating, NetDevil has made sure that players won’t find any items that their race can’t use.

Players might also be wondering what happens if a chassis drops, especially if you are riding a dinky little motorcycle and loot a tank. Well, need not worry. Chassis (and full cars) are represented in game by their ignition key, an item which only takes up one inventory slot. Players can thus own and carry multiple cars at once, and to swap cars just go to town and swap ignition keys out of your hardpoints. The only restriction to this is inventories … if you try to switch from a car with a large inventory (such as a van) to a car with a smaller inventory (such as a motorcycle) you have to make sure that you aren’t overstocked.

Whether you look at items as a trader or a fighter, Auto Assault is in the fast lane of progress with their dynamic loot generation system, a system that only adds to the diverse game environment that NetDevil is trying to create. When a player chooses an item they need to consider many factors: their environment, their allies, their enemies, their skills … and of course, what looks the best!