There is no ammo to keep track of or reloading to worry about in Global Agenda. All guns, regardless of class tap into your pool of energy, which stayed at 100 for my Assault heavy no matter my level. Your jetpack uses this to fuel its boost, as do each of your guns. So while it might go without saying, I'd avoid spending all of your energy flying across the map into a skirmish only to find you have nothing to shoot at the ten enemy players surrounding you or the boss your team of four just started against. It recharges quickly enough, but in a game like Global Agenda a few seconds can mean the difference between life and death.
I'm not the best player in the world when it comes to competitive first-person shooters, as twitch-based games have evaded me since Goldeneye 007. However, I'm fairly decent when it comes to co-op experiences such as in Valve's Left 4 Dead. With this in mind, I decided to dip my toes in the water by playing some of the PvE missions before diving into the PvP component of the game.
The PvE missions are all set up against the Commonwealth NPC faction, with four players forming a team that will work together to wade through numerous enemies and ultimately defeat a main boss. Though several of these missions were locked out to me because I hadn't leveled high enough yet, I did have access to two from the start. One low-security (RE: easy difficulty) and one medium-security offering. Sticking with my fear of being the newbie since I started a day later than the rest of the beta population, I chose the low-security mission. The game uses a matchmaking system similar to those found in other online shooters, and it tries to make sure an appropriate team is formed consisting of one of each class. Very seldom did I ever enter a mission without a Medic on hand, and when I did it was plain to see that Medics would be highly sought after companions. Enemies hit hard, and Medics really come in handy when a PvE mission only allows four player deaths before automatic failure.
Each mission has several map variations, and enemy spawn patterns, so while you might play the same mission three or four times, you may not see the same exact map twice in that time. The developers have done a decent job of making environments with places to take cover, multiple paths to take, and even some environmental hazards to worry about. On one of my first missions the team cleared a room and were all standing in front of a corridor that I chose to dash into, thinking we were all moving on. Said corridor wound up being a ventilation shaft for the mining facility and my character was burned to a crisp when the burners came on.
At the end of the missions, there's an orange force-field guarded door that signals to you and your team to buff and heal up, as behind the door the boss of the encounter awaits. In the low-security mission said boss was basically an NPC version of any one of the four player classes jacked up on steroids. Depending on which class you were facing, different strategies could be employed. During one encounter with a Commonwealth equivalent of the Assault class our Robotics players put up shields on two sides of the room for us to use while we drilled the boss with our primary weapons and grenades. Sure enough he dropped rather quickly even though he was accompanied by about a half-dozen robot companions. On a different occasion, we faced off against an Elite Alchemist (Medic) which resulted in a bit more craziness as he outlasted our shields and healed himself to full when we thought he was going down.
Upon completion each player is rewarded credits (the game's currency) and experience points, along with any crafting materials you might have picked up in the process. The PvE missions I had access to seemed to be really well done mini-adventures that took anywhere from five to fifteen minutes to complete. Though the primary gameplay of Global Agenda is probably intended to be the PvP portion, the PvE missions to me serve as nice breaks from the stress of competitive play, and I'd imagine H-Rez Studios has plans to further build upon the system.
Once all of the missions are unlocked, players will have access to a handful of different experiences, which also happen to be the main way to acquire crafting materials should you be a subscriber to the game. Still, I can see the limited offerings on hand getting repetitive even with their somewhat random nature. They're fun, and fairly addictive in my brief time with them, but there are too few of them to rely on PvE alone as your one reason for playing the game. Thankfully Global Agenda also plays host to a fairly robust matchmade PvP system and Alliance vs. Alliance Conquest Campaign which we'll detail in the second part of our preview next week. From what I've seen so far, Hi-Rez Studios has the makings of a rather fun and addictive persistent online shooter on their hands. It may not be the norm, but it's well worth keeping an eye on.