Novarama's Killsquad hits Steam Early Access today. The game is described by developers as a co-op action RPG, but also has hints of an adrenaline-filled MOBA -- a sort of hybrid of the two in its way. Regardless, my time spent in Killsquad was fun, fast and furious.
In Killsquad, you and your teammates are bounty hunters in a universe in turmoil. Megacorporations pillage one another with these Killsquads that are tasked with amassing riches and bounties across the galaxy. At the moment, there are four distinct classes that fall into typical ARPG classes: Hammer-wielding tank Kosmo the Revenant; Ranged DPS in Troy the Gunslinger; Melee DPS with Cass the Warrior Nun; and Healer Zero the Sawbones.
However, the team has robust plans to add more content. Here's a look at what's planned for the balance of the year:
Players enter a lobby where up to four players can choose which character to play. Once chosen, the leader selects a contract. Contracts are randomly generated and send players to one of three planets. More will be added in time, but for now, there are three: Kemmekh, Wasteland07, and the Palace of Pain. Each offers open world exploration while working their way towards the final objective, aka the "contract".
Novarama has promised 40 contracts spread across three difficulty levels at release. "These come in different shapes and forms, as we feel our contract engine is the core of the game." Contracts can be epic final boss battles or escort missions and developers have indicated that there are plans to add even more over time. Contracts end with rewards of currency and materials that can be used at the in-game vendor to purchase new weapons and gears (equippable items to provide a buff to the character).
Gameplay, while limited to three abilities and an ultimate. The key bindings for mouse and keyboard play felt a little awkward. For instance, movement is WASD which is awesome. Attack keys are E, LMB and RMB with Q as the ultimate. It works, but I can see that the game would more easily be played using a gamepad of some sort. In fact, during an hours' long gameplay session, Vulkan and his companions also noted that a gamepad makes the game that much better.
Regardless, mouse and keyboard do work and, as promised, the gameplay is fast and furious. Novarama has written that Killsquad is a "hardcore action RPG done by hardcore RPG fans" and it shows. As you move through the game map, you come across packs of enemies that gradually scale up to include multiple types of monsters with a variety of abilities including ranged and melee. At the moment, it feels as if the enemies are undertuned and too-easily killed as well as coming too few and far between. There's an awful lot of empty space to run through between packs of monsters, but that may be more a function of playing on a lower difficulty level.
The abilities each character has are fun and effective. There are enough differences between the current crop of classes to make them feel unique and that they bring something different to the table. I really enjoyed playing the tanky Kosmo with his leaping hammer smashes and whirlwinding ability combined with his fiery armor. Most packs didn't last too long and he was never overly hurt, hence the feeling that foes are a bit under-tuned.
Playing solo was fine, though a bit lonely but the game really has potential as a multiplayer game. Sessions can be set to private for those who want the solo experience or who want to play in groups of less than four. It's easy to see how much more fun it is with a friend or two or three. The action is flashy and moves at a constant and rapid pace.
I'm impressed enough with Killsquad that I will definitely be checking in from time to time. For an early access game, Killsquad is very well polished and it is graphically impressive. It's also coming with a decent amount of content with big plans to add more in short order. The game is currently $19.99 on Steam, though it will rise to $24.99 after the first week. It's a decent price for a fun game with a lot of potential.