A full-screen monitor, a fridge stocked with Diet Sunkist, plenty of columns to be written, and my own vehicle! Public transportation doesn't agree with me, folks, as I learned last week at E3 in Los Angeles. I also learned a lot about PlanetSide 2, a little about DUST 514, and tidbits about Defiance and something called Arctic Combat.
For this week's Firing Line, I figured I should pay a little lip service to those last two. And we'll also recap some of this week's crucial online shooter news. To the cut!
Defiance was pretty brief, all things considered. Like everyone else, I gawked at the destroyed Golden Gate bridge that marked Trion's spot on the show floor. Oh, and the giant photo-op mech for End of Nations was pretty cool too.
Anyhow, I spent some time on the public demo stations and behind closed doors in the press area. Much of what was covered in the press demo was written up last week as part of our on-the-spot coverage, but I also wanted to give some quick impressions of the actual gameplay that happened while Trion devs were whispering sweet story-related nothings in my ear. To start with, I played the Xbox 360 version of the game, and as with every other shooter at this year's con, I had trouble with the inverted Y-axis!
In fact, that's my personal subtitle for this year's E3 coverage: Revenge of the frickin' Y-axis (or something catchier).
Anyhow, despite that, I still had a ball. Defiance, like all things Trion, is extremely tight and expertly produced. I spent most of the time tooling around on a four-wheeler, and the controls were smooth and responsive whether I was flooring it on a straight-away or careening around the bend of a dirt road before leaping off and spraying my surroundings with machine-gun fire. The game world is impressively large and very beautiful to look at (in a bombed-out alien apocalypse sort of way). I ran across a fun little minigame too, and the devs told me that smaller, out-of-the-way time-wasters like this are commonplace throughout the world.
The game was essentially Defiance's version of king-of-the-hill. I held my ground atop a mound of dirt with nothing but a minigun and my 360 controller as wave after wave of alien baddies swarmed over, around, and through my grizzled avatar. It was great fun, and the end result was some XP, achievements, and the like. Interestingly, Trion said that other players in my general vicinity wouldn't see any of this going down, since the minigames take place in their own little instance bubbles as opposed to the open world proper (though I wouldn't have known that had it not been brought to my attention; such was the seamless transition).
So yeah: Defiance is pretty fun from what I can tell. I must admit to yawning over the TV series tie-in, and the MMO story elements excite me about as much as most MMO stories do (which is to say, not at all). Gameplay is looking good, though, and we'll definitely be chatting more about Defiance as April 2013 draws nearer.
Arctic Combat is basically Defiance's polar opposite (har har, see what I did there?). It's an eight-vs.-eight lobby shooter, so all MMO pretenses are dropped as a matter of course. It's also a modern military FPS, which means there are no aliens, ray guns, or destroyed Golden Gate bridges.
The title comes to us courtesy of the devs at Battery Studio and the publishing gurus at Webzen. System requirements are surprisingly low given the eyecandy on display, and like most of the stuff coming out of Korea these days (or even the West, for that matter), the business model is firmly free-to-play.
All the usual gameplay suspects are present and accounted for, including deathmatch, search-and-destroy, free-for-all, and various modes including rockets-only, knives-only, etc. There's also a perk system that reminded me of Tribes: Ascend, fire support options that reminded me of Call of Duty X, and plenty of customizable gear.
The other thing that stood out during my hands-on experience were the bots. Now hear me out -- I know some of you are rolling your eyes because you're way too hardcore to subject yourself to shooter AI. I challenge you to dominate Arctic Combat's AI, though, particularly on the higher difficulty settings. I gave the devs a few chuckles as I unceremoniously got my ass kicked during a couple of rounds, and AC is definitely the shooter you want to practice with if you can't get any player competition for whatever reason.
Let's see, what else can I tell you about the game? Oh, it will feature dedicated clan servers (located in North America) as well as four launch-day maps. When's launch day? Well, any time now, I'm guessing. There's a beta test going on as we speak (June 13th through June 27th to be exact), and the build that I played seemed more than polished enough for public consumption.
Ultimately, yeah it's another free-to-play co-op shooter, but it's a really high-quality one that you'd do well to check out.
Renaissance Heroes and its weapons overview clip. If you've been wondering what sort of destruction you can unleash with crossbows, battlehammers, and other fancifully re-imagined 16th century tech, this clip is for you.
Then we have the latest Tribes: Ascend update. Yes, I know, these Hi-Rez Studios dudes rarely sleep. The June patch is called Accelerate, and its relaxed progression curve is a godsend for those of you who feel the game's advancement is a bit too grindy. There's also the requisite new weapons and new maps, so be sure and check out the
The Firing Line's Jef Reahard has a twitchy trigger finger, a love of online shooters, and an uncanny resemblance to Malcolm Reynolds. OK, maybe not, but at least if he ever kills you, you'll be awake, you'll be facing him, and you'll be armed.