In the latest patch from En Masse’s intense third-person shooter Zombies Monsters Robots, a new Tower Defense Style mode called “Threshold Defense” has been added. Unlike the other modes we have seen, the monsters are less interested in you, at least until you attack them, as they are trying escape out a portal. Your team's objective is to prevent them from doing so at all costs. Wave upon wave is thrown at you until either you succeed at suppressing 10 waves or you allow 30 monsters to escape, so be sure to KILL EVERYTHING!
I got the opportunity to sit down and take the Threshold Defense Mode for a test run in the map Protect Damnation Station at PAX. In the words of the studio, it's Tower Defense like TF2, but Man vs machine with ZMR Flair. You and your team start out out standing before a large portal; the room stretches out before you with numerous paths for the waves to travel down to try and escape. You are given an indication between each wave were monsters may come from to help your team coordinate. At first our team stayed clustered around the portal waiting for the monsters to come to us. We quickly realized that we needed to spread out on the map and kill them before they even got close to the portal. We were letting too many through. Once we got the concept of the map, you get into a rhythm and it became very fun to run around, utilizing different areas to get the drop and take the enemies out. We all got to wear the new AEGIS Battle suit, which is unlocked by high level players (Platinum Shooting Gallery) that gives a bonus to your maximum ammo by 10% and it looks phenomenal.
The map adds a couple of new features that really brings the map alive. The first is verticality. Utilizing either portals to teleport you up to platforms or ramps to run you up to walkways (because you can't jump in ZMR), they have added another way to get the drop on your enemies. More of a sniper get up high and provide that cover fire, just be careful to not leave those blind spots uncovered, work with your team. This high points becomes really import with the next item of note, flying enemies. No longer can you just focus ahead and behind or things flying above you will cause you to have a really bad day or slip on by you and escape. To help combat this new type of threat, gun turrets have also been added. Once you earn enough points, just get on a turret and let the bullets fly. I found they were very effect against both flying and ground targets as long as you could get them in your sights, which is challenging as the range of motion of the guns is limited. And finally a mobile Mech suit (for a cost of 10k points) you can jump into to shoot and stomp your enemies.
Epic Tier weapons were also introduced – which are the best possible weapons in the game and only obtained via maps on Nightmare difficulty. These weapons are not only powerful, and stunningly beautiful, they also add new ways to kill. The Neutrino Rifle is a Laser that goes through multiple targets in a line. It is very satisfying to line up a sniper shot and take out multiple mobs with the baby. The Arc Cannon is an interesting weapon that is essentially a Lighting cannon that provides for AoE damage and crowd control. Finally a weapon that enjoys large clusters of monsters let the lightning arc and jump. While it does less damage per hit, the fact that you hit many makes up for it very quickly, especially in a threshold defense match. A Cluster mine was also added allowing you to plan your defense, lay down a mine that will explode on contact doing damage and then launch out 5 smaller mines to continue the rain of death. Finally the Laser Sword is just a beautiful blade for taking the fight in close and personal.
The Threshold Defense mode is a perfect addition to ZMR to compliment the Operations (mini campaigns that tell a story) and the Wave based maps we have already seen. I am excited to see what comes next. With En Masse pushing a cycle of 6-7 new maps a month, there is always going to be new areas to explore. And to keep the challenges fresh and satisfy the collectors, the average of 15 new weapons (5 Gold, 5 EMP, 5 shooting galleries) and various outfits is sure to be a crowd pleaser. If you like shooters and haven’t had an opportunity to try Zombies Monsters Robots, what are you waiting for?