Warhammer Inquisitor Martyr was one of the games I most wanted to see at E3. I am a massive fan of Warhammer 40K and this game has a custom physics engine on board, to make everything look awesome, and be able to be destroyed. I was unsure of how cover would work in an ARPG styled game, but it turned out I didnt really need it at all. Check out the trailer below for a good idea of how the game plays.
I found Neocore Games booth way in the back of South hall, as I approached and saw just a few computer and a TV screen, I wondered if i was in the wrong place. Luckily for me I was not, the large display TV clearly showed that the title of the game and a nice set of B roll footage playing in the background. After a presentation about the world, the physics engine, and the eventual scope of the game. I was allowed to sit down and play for about 30 minutes, I had access to one level, and one of the games three planned classes, but even with these limited options, I had a hell of a lot of fun.
Right away I noticed that this was a very pretty game, Neocore games have cooked up their very own new graphics engine for this game and it shows. Lighting is very important in the 40K universe, it is literally a GRIM DARK, universe. Martyr does a great job with this aesthetic. Everything is dark, but also looks like it’s in the future. Much of the galaxy of 40K is 10,000 years or more old, made up of lost technology, and often in ruins. This is very clear in the tile sets that the developer have chosen. Most of environments I saw looked ancient, to the point of being ready to crumble. I was only able to play on one tileset and indoor metal based one, but earlier trailers have shown other more open or outside tile sets will be in-game.
The custom designed engine takes good advantage of that terrain. It is all fully destructible, and this is one the things that the developer is very invested in this destructible cover system, as you can see from this video. The environment also provides another layer, offering cover for you or your foes to hide behind. These covers can then be destroyed. The system works all right, but felt a bit out-of-place in an ARPG.
Sitting down and playing it, the cover system honestly doesn’t feel like its needed. I say this with trepidation in my heart because developing a major system just for a game like this is really a great thing, but an ARPG is by its design action based. I don’t want to hide behind cover, I want to jump in to a pile of enemies and kill them all. You can do that, but since enemies also have good AI, they will use the cover to evade you, and you will spend more time chasing if you don’t play the way the developers want. That being said the Warhamer universe is as good as any for an ARPG to be set in. With weapons like chain swords, and psykers who can throw powerful attacks there is no shortage of material for an ARPG . Even with just the small slice of the game I was shown I could see some of that and the developers spent a lot of time stressing that we have only seen a small amount of it so far.
At the E3 demo we were also treated to video and explanation of a new class. The assassin class looked rough around the edges, since it seemed to have only a snipe, and a few stealth abilities, but nothing to really do much damage. I hope this class was still in development and will look a bit more polished when the game is finished. It does have promise, but since the game is a single player experience im unsure why anyone would chose not to play the heavily armored tank of a champion that is the crusader class. The Crusader is the games tank and is who we have seen in other gameplay videos, and who I was able to play in the demo. There will be a third class (I am hoping for a magic user) which has yet to be revealed as well. Each class will have different weapons, and each weapon will have different attack “modes” meaning that your sword will be able to do things that aren’t just swing pointy end at enemy. I saw a bit of this when I played, being able to use my sword as a finisher after shooting a bunch with my bolter.
At its core this is an ARPG, you will take on the role of one super powered Inquisitor from the Space Marines faction of the 40K universe, you will then hack, shoot, and explode your way through purifying the aliens, mutants, and heretics of the 40K world. Neocore are going to give players a whole sector to play around in, and have promised that players decisions will make major changes to the sector. Two types of campaign will exist in game. In the first mode your character will fight alone in massive sector, but special events will tie the various missions together. When you finish the story, which is promised to be a classic 40K story with a mystery as old as the inquisition itself at its core, you will then have access to the open world of the sector and be able to play endless levels with procedural generated maps and objectives. In this open world sandbox is where Neocore have promised that your actions will effect the larger sector.
I was only able to play one mission, with the objective of killing a boss at the end. It was pretty much the most basic ARPG style game play you could imagine. I had a series of abilities, triggered with the numbers on the keyboard, I could shoot my gun with right click and move with left click. The class I was playing had two weapons choices. The first was a sword and bolt pistol, this combination is fairly balanced, and gave me the ability to both shoot at things far away, and chop things that got close to with my sword. While using my sword I had access to some neat finishing moves that could be triggered when an enemy’s health was low. I could for example behead an enemy soldier, or stab him through the chest. My secondary weapon was a Lascannon, which shot a single target with a high damage slow-moving projectile. The Lascannon also had a AOE ability that I found myself abusing quite a bit, it launched a slow projectile that landed and cause a large amount of damage. This was my only AOE that I was able to find. As far as I could tell the only other place I could get AOE damage from was grenade. While this wasn’t as much as a problem as it would be in say Diablo, Inquisitor Martyr did still throw groups of enemies at me, so I would have been quite happy for another AoE ability. I mean I have a sword, let me swing it in a wide arc or spin it or something!
So as I got started on the mission that I was allowed to play, I was dropped in to a grim room, with a lot of gothic flare, if I had to guess I would say I was one of the massive space ship hulks that feature in the 40K universe. I was allowed to wander down a few hallways, which the developers told me were procedurally generated, and fought a few enemies. I seemed to be fighting the chaos faction, and at saw at least 5 enemy types even in this early prototype of the game. The destructible cover works, you can destroy almost everything people hide behind, but I mostly spent my time kiting enemies out of cover to kill them, so I found the cover mechanic at best annoying. Now is the part where I have to say that this is not a typical ARPG, as fast as something like Diablo is with huge swarms of enemies coming to you and you hitting them and using abilities on them, this is the opposite. The game moves slowly, you feel like a giant terminator, walking slowly along shooting and faster enemies who you are forced to either try to kill before they get to you. I did not feel like I was close to dying anywhere, but it was a demo designed for press, so it may have been toned down.
Overall I enjoyed the game, I think it really captures what I feels like to be a super powerful terminator alone and arrayed against the whole galaxy of Xeonos. I could have done without the cover mechanic I never used, and I think the difficulty needs some tweaking for sure, and since the demo build I played had no loot in it, I really didn’t get that ARPG feel that comes with say Diablo or other games like it. The developers did say that they were working on loot, diversity of enemies, and whole slew of more weapons from the 40K universe. This is a game to keep on your radar as it gets closer and closer to done. As of today the game has no release date, and the developers are still calling it an alpha product, so I would expect that there is a ton of work to still be done on the game, but when it is done, I think it will be a worthy entry in to the 40K video game cannon.
I leave you with this one final trailer by the developers about mass destruction, and my thoughts on the game. In order for this to work as an ARPG loot needs to come in to the game. The developers were adamant that they were working on it but wanted the loot to “make sense” before it went in to game. The rest felt quite good, and I plan to play and review this game when it comes out sometime in 2017.