I’ll say this for Square-Enix, they definitely go the atmosphere right in Nosgoth. As a human, you feel trapped and distinctly hunted, waiting for the jaws of death to swoop down upon you. As a vampire, you’re a supreme predator, skulking your way through the shadows and across rooftops, stalking your charge. The action is fast and furious, and you’ll often find your spleen carved up into multiple pieces before you know what hit you.
“Terrifying” is the word I use to describe both Nosgoth’s ambiance and its pace. I’m not a great first-person/shooter player – and I separate those terms because of the melee/ranged dichotomy of Nosgoth’s two factions – and the speed at which things happen can be a little disconcerting. I’m more Heavy than Scout, to use a Team Fortress 2 comparison. If you like that kind of fast-moving action, and don’t mind occasionally getting ripped to shreds by something you can barely see, then Nosgoth’s got a lot to offer.
In case you’re new, Nosgoth is S-E’s upcoming human vs. vampire free-to-play lobby-based arena game. It’s an asymmetrical game, in that the vampires are strictly melee fighters while the humans use exclusively ranged weapons. Going in, I felt like this could be a major imbalance, but it didn’t seem that way, at least in the few matches I was able to play. (Being alpha, there weren’t a whole lot of people around, so my opportunities for matches were limited.) You’d think that the vampires would be at a supreme disadvantage, but their movement abilities – charges, rooftop climbing, and flight – make up for their lack of range.
Each faction has three classes, each with its own distinct play style, and you can mix and match special abilities to further customize your killing machine. Humans have their weapon and two abilities while vampires have three abilities. Right now, the only play mode is Team Deathmatch, with each team taking a turn as the humans and the vampires and the total score after two round determining the victor. It’s enjoyable enough, but more variety will likely be needed, both in the game modes and in the classes.
There’s also a tendency for humans to clump together and play defensively, while the vampires attack from all angles. It seems appropriate, given the milieu, but giving the humans reasons to play less passively – like with control points or capture-the-flag mechanics – would help mix things up a bit. Still, it’s alpha, so S-E probably isn’t interested in much more at this point than making sure the basic mechanics work.
The cash shop is relatively bare at the moment, with just a few items, cosmetic skins and abilities up for sale. They seem to be mostly sidegrades, so pay-to-win probably isn’t going to be an issue, but I do bristle a little at the fact that buying with in-game gold, as opposed to real-money currency, gives you the item for a limited period of time – seven days for the ability I purchased. It was inexpensive, the amount that could be recouped in just a few games, but I’d like to see the option to buy something permanently for (a much larger sum) of gold.
Editor’s Note: As someone pointed out I failed to notice you actually can purchase items permanently for additional gold. At the time this article was written, that amounted to roughly five times more than what was required to simply rent the item.
Nosgoth looks and feels great, if you can adjust yourself to the speed and sudden violence of the action. It’s a rib-tearing, heart-rending good time that will certainly find an audience. It’s still got a ways to go before it’s ready for launch, but Square-Enix is on the right path.
By Jason Winter