I suppose the sign of a good game is one that you wish you could play more. That was my first impression of BattleCry, the upcoming F2P action-combat game from BattleCry Studios, which I got to sample at last week’s QuakeCon. I only got in two matches but I can’t wait to try it in a more polished state from my own home.
Three classes were available at the show: the tanky enforcer, the pewpew tech archer, and the stealthy, quick-hitting duelist. I got in one game each as the enforcer and tech archer and tried to line up a third time to sample the duelist, but they were getting ready to set up for their tournament and I didn’t get the chance. I know, I could have flashed my badge and gone all, “DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? MMOBOMB, BEYATCH! MOUNTED!” but I didn’t want to overwhelm the poor, overworked staff at the Bethesda booth with my dazzling brilliance.
Every class has three basic abilities and an ultimate. As you attack, you’ll also build up an adrenaline meter, and you can burn off one chunk of adrenaline to run a little faster and have your next few attacks deal extra damage. One of my niggling complaints was that the default command for activating your adrenaline was the left Shift key, which, in nearly any third- or first-person game, is bound to sprint. I wasted more adrenaline by instinctively hitting Shift than I ever used in combat.
As an enforcer – dubbed “the best class for new players” by the microphone-wielding emcee at the booth – it felt great to dive into combat, spin my giant blade around, and generally wreak havoc on the enemy squads, especially those squishy archers when I could get close enough to one. The enforcer also has a shield for defensive purposes, and on more than one occasion, I’d keep my shield up while an enemy enforcer hacked away at it, focusing entirely on me and letting an ally score the kill.
The tech archer, which I played later, was a bit tougher for me, to the point that the emcee announced that it looked like it was the first time I had played BattleCry. Thanks, buddy, way to make me feel special. My main skills were an explosive arrow and a sonic arrow, which pushed nearby enemies back, but I think the class as a whole could use a little more in-combat feedback. Little spurts of blood do spring up from an enemy when hit, but in a large, chaotic fight when you’re sniping enemies at long range, it’s tough to tell when you’re being effective. Better audio cues, perhaps?
Though I didn’t get to try the stalker, it looked to fulfill the role of sneaky “hit-and-run” fighter. It had a stealth skill and, from talking with the game’s design director, I learned that it had a short-range teleport. Based on my time playing an enforcer, I also know that they’re pretty squishy but have a lot of ways to escape unfavorable close-combat situations. In addition to those three classes, the gadgeteer and brawler are also in the works, though they weren’t available this round.
The game feels like an arena brawler along the lines of Team Fortress 2, but with faster – though not so fast that everything is a blur – movement and a greater emphasis on melee than ranged combat. Skills are activated by the Q, W, and E commands, giving it a bit of a MOBA-esque feel, and it’s through upgrading those skills, not your weapons, that you’ll advance. The cash shop will focus on cosmetic upgrades for those weapons, and even your characters themselves, with gender and ethnicity swaps being in the offing.
Finally, as a history buff, the old-school, WWI-ish feel to the game’s aesthetics appeals to me. When a match ended, you’d see an old-timey newspaper pop up with a headline announcing the winners. Touches like that could be expanded upon, and I hope the team finds more ways to fully engross you in the milieu.
So far, BattleCry it has all the appearance of being a high-quality, fast-paced, hard-hitting game that could be a major player in the action-combat genre for years to come. There won’t be any kind of early access or beta until 2015, but it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.