Hands On with the Pre-Alpha
Redefining “Massive” in a 3rd-person Combat RPG is Behaviour Interactive Studio Head of the online games Miguel Caron’s drum beat. Building a world set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe; making it an open persistent planet that’s officially part of the lore (Arkhona) which can support over a 1000 players in a single battle... this is what Eternal Crusade plans to bring to us in late 2015. Miguel is looking to break records and has a target of 2.5-3k in a single battle, truly massive, by the time the game launches.
Staying true to 26 years of Warhammer 40,000 lore has provided the foundation for a deep character progression and customization. Those familiar will instantly recognize and relate with the four factions you will be able to play at launch: Space Marines, Chaos Space Marines, Orks, and Eldar. Choosing your faction allegiance and background affects your stats, weapons selections and so forth. In this way you’ll truly feel like the sub-faction you represent.
Eternal Crusade’s combat is fully action-based making you reliant on your skill at aiming and striking your target. Abilities are triggered by activating or holding buttons, actions and reactions can and will get interrupted as you evade attacks, block, take cover or get hit. There are no ability bars or auto-attack systems, so how and when you complete actions is driven by your need to complete them. With guns being able to overheat, ammo running low and the scope of the battle space, you will spend a lot of time moving around and being engaged in the fight.
Weapons have a distinct and noticeable kick to them both when fired and when hit. Friendly fire is a thing so just spraying bullets is not going to work well as you will kill your teammates just as fast as the enemies. Execution moves are awesome while also gruesome; they fit right in with what you would expect from the Warhammer 40K universe and many more than the few I saw at the show are planned for launch. Of course, some of which will be available for purchase in the Rogue Trader (in-game store).
While at Pax Prime I was able to sit down to a 3v3 demo match of Eternal Crusade. This was just a tiny sampling of the larger game to come in 2015. And it’s also indicative of the “modules” Behaviour plans to release for Founder Pre-Order customers. These modules will be completely separate from the final game, but will give players access to help test combat, classes, weapons, and other systems in advance of the fully persistent MMO late next year.
The Pre-Alpha build showcased the beginning of just how massive the world is with towering fortresses large enough to have giant tank battles or pitch 1000’s of marines in bolter and knife fights. With numerous control points to fight over, gun mounts to man and tanks to drive, the destiny of the battle is contingent on the tactical experience where positioning, teamwork, and your choice of war gear are all key components to victory.
Combat begins at a distance with large guns and tanks from base camps as is iconic to Warhammer 40,000. Teams either go on the offense or defense depending on the situation with the goal to own the battle space. As the heavy weapons get damaged and destroyed, teams move in on each other for epic guns fights or close and personal blade battles. With everyone in the game in the same open world where you can explore freely. The dynamic of a battle could change at any time. With four factions all vying for control we can quickly appreciate the massive conflict which can and will occur.
While it is very early in the development cycle (the visuals and sound were all very rough around the edges), combat feels very solid and the scope of the world is set up to accommodate the “Massive” battles that the singular world of Arkhona will need to hold. I am hopeful that everything will come together as planned. If the passion of the team is any indication, I would say they will exceed their hopes. This is one to watch and not just for its massive scale PVP gameplay, but also the technologies they are developing to make it all work.