E3 2015 Day 3 Recap Pt 1 – SW Battlefront, BattleCry, Bierzerkers, and Torchlight Mobile!
It’s been a good long while since I had a chance to sit down and play some BattleCry. In fact a long while is exactly one year, as it was Thursday at E3 2014 that I snuck into the Bethesda press booth for some impromptu action with the game. My time spent this year consisted of a brief lopsided 6v6 capture the points battle, so to say I have a firm grasp of all that’s new would be misleading. Though James has an interview with the devs available HERE if you’d like to know more. Instead here is my basic impressions of BattleCry then versus now.
For starters, the new Han Republic faction is looking solid. The characters keep with that quasi-World War I demeaner of national stereotypes and matching voice acting that pulls you without hooking your serious side. I’m not sure its the case for everyone but the art style and animations almost desensitize you to the near Mortal Combat level of gore this game dishes out, that’s only gotten more detailed and varied in gore style in the past year of development.
The new Han Republic industrial map being demoed this year was far more close quarter focused than the large rectangular set-up I had experienced in the past. Sniping locations were quite inconvenient, often allowing ranged characters to go for lucky potshots at warriors approaching capture points, but not allowing you to harass them once within the capture point without putting yourself in harms way.
The ranged characters also seemed a bit slower in terms of strafing. Though I don’t think that’s the case. It was the melee characters that felt buffed up, as infiltrators and brawlers could close a gap across a large room in under two seconds. This felt a bit unbalanced considering the brawlers could easily tank twice as many of the gadgeteer’s auto attacks as the gadgeteer could take from the brawler. Sure the gadgeteer could even the odds with their more powerful skills, but they all require a hefty activation time that they only come in handy when you’re already established in a defensive position, or come across a team battle already in progress, and can go about your business without harassment.
The infiltrators were even worse, as I could concede one slicing and dicing up an unprepared gadgeteer like a Rogue archetype does, but the fact they never even bothered with stealth due to their sheer run speed made me feel like I was losing to an opponent with one hand tied behind their back. As a gadgeteer, I found getting an opponent’s agro was the equivalent of pulling a world boss as a glass cannon mage. My only encounters that resulted in survival happened when I had a solid escape strategy pre-planned, and unexpected encounters were almost certain death. Overall the shift of power seems to have swayed from ranged domination to melee ruling the day, though BattleCry Studios is certainly closer to finding a happy middle point than a year ago.
Stealth? In Soviet Russia, when I appear, you are the one to vanish.
While on the note of the inescapable hopelessness of death, the new user interface experience is a bit lackluster in comparison to my previous experience. I’m curious if I’m in the minority opinion on this, but the previous system of presenting your remaining health by letting the full screen go red, combined with intense heart beat drowning out the standard sound effects was what got my adrenaline flowing in close 1v1 showdowns. The thrill of obtaining victory when so close to death that you had to stop and let your mind rest to register that you were still standing was unlike anything in the genre I had experienced prior.
You call that a hit? I didn’t even lose my cigarette!
In the new system an hp bar along the bottom center of the screen has been introduced, while the near death effects have been seriously toned down. In the process my adrenaline rush was lost as well. Watching my ten or so blocks of life get chipped away as I roll around in a panic, with some slight blackening on my border just did not have the same impact. My deaths felt anti-climatic as a result, as I stared with a bit of boredom at my propaganda loading screen.
BattleCry still rocks some solid concepts, far above average character customization within that unique Dishonored art style, and some of the most responsive controls in any online battle arena to date. Yet it lacks the WOW! factor a game like this needs to bolster its replayability. The game is nearly out of time for fine tuning before its 2015 launch, but I have high hopes that as soon as its playerbase spikes and feedback spikes with it, the developers are going to stumble on the perfect combination of suggestions to click the final missing pieces of this puzzle into place.
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