Michael Bay's trilogy of budget-busting Transformers movies may have come and gone, but developer High Moon Studios is still keeping the spirit of the original cartoon series alive with Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. Earlier in the year we got the chance to see a sampling of the game's single-player mode, which emphasized the different mission types each character will feature. Now, on the eve of this year's San Diego Comic-Con, Maxwell and Caro got the chance to go hands-on for the first time with its multiplayer modes.
Caro I started off in Conquest mode. This was a team-based mode in which you earn points by capturing and holding command nodes. I spent a lot of time holding down nodes for my team and not seeing any enemies; but when they did approach me, I found that the balanced destroyer class--which was a bit sturdier than an infiltrator and more agile than the tank-like titan--served me well. I was pretty effective at keeping filthy Decepticons away from our sweet, sweet command points, and my team ultimately won the match.
Maxwell While you were off monkeying around with your capture points, Caro, I was playing tried-and-true Team Deathmatch. As a semi-unprofessional medic player in Team Fortress 2, I opted to play the scientist class exclusively during my session. Similar to TF2’s medic, this class can fire a healing beam at allies to restore their life, but unlike in TF2, it can still fire your weapon while using the beam--simply toggle the beam on or off and go about your shooting. The class itself is pretty weak, and its weapons don't pack as much of a punch, so working in concert with a teammate was the best option during my play session.
Caro I didn't spend too much time playing the multiplayer in War for Cybertron, but my immediate feeling was that this feels quite similar. On the plus side, transforming smoothly from a robot into a vehicle and speeding around the battlefield in vehicle form feels great. On the other hand, despite some powerful-looking melee attacks, combat in robot form doesn't have quite the sense of impact I would like. But the four classes offer a good variety of options for players, and I think that fighting as a team that understands the strengths and weaknesses of each class and works together well could be great.
Also, Matt Tieger from High Moon Studios mentioned that Dinobots and Insecticons will eventually be playable in multiplayer. He described this as being part of their "DLC strategy," so it sounds like you'll have to pay for this option, but if integrated well, it could bring more variety to the game's class dynamics.
Maxwell For me, the moment-to-moment combat in the competitive multiplayer modes felt very slow and forgiving compared to other third-person shooters. These are not inherently negative things; in fact, I felt the slower pace helped sell the fact that I was playing as a giant mechanical robot. This deliberate pace also meant that I was getting hit, a lot. The design compensated for this by giving each class a fair amount of health compared to other games, and it certainly took more than a few rounds to bring an enemy down.
Giancarlo HEY GUYS! I PLAYED THE SINGLE-PLAYER PART! IT HAD BUMBLEBEE FIGHTING HIS WAY THROUGH THE AUTOBOT ARK, BUT MEGATRON WAS BLOWING IT UP. SO CRAZY! THEN, I PLAYED AS A DECEPTICON THAT WAS HELPING STARSCREAM DIVERT ENERGON! STARSCREAM IS SUCH A TURD. DO YOU GUYS WANT TO SEE MY LASERDISC OF TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE?
Caro Ahem, we then played the co-op mode, called Escalation. In this mode, you play as one of four established characters, each of whom has a unique ability, and you need to work together to effectively fend off the waves of enemy Transformers who attack you. I have a soft spot for Bumblebee, so I selected him. His ability is to drop items that replenish his teammates' ammo supplies.
Maxwell Once Escalation started I was seemingly assigned to play as Optimus Prime at random. This character is meant to be the tank of the group. He has a lot of health and can hold up a shield in front of himself to block incoming attacks. In theory, while Optimus takes a beating using his shield, his teammates can provide fire support from behind. Or, in this case, his teammates just run around and kill the first thing that wanders into view. I'm looking at you, Caro!
Caro Unfortunately, at the exact moment the match started, a guy tripped over the wire connecting my headset to the output and disconnected it, so I wasn't able to communicate with my teammates. But I could still tell that this mode is very much a traditional horde mode. The waves started off being made up of small numbers of weak enemies, but as we continued fighting the good fight, enemies became both more numerous and more powerful.
Maxwell As we were racking up the kills, we were also awarded money to spend on various upgrades littered throughout the map. Some of these upgrades came in the form of basic ammo or health packs, new weapons and items, and environmental traps to help thin the AI hordes. The most powerful of these upgrades--such as an airstrike station--can be paid in increments by any member of the team. Once the goal had been reached we could all enjoy the rewards. Having a variety of unique upgrade types will help make each cooperative map feel distinct in ways other than layout.
Caro I still wish that the action had a greater sense of impact, but I think the option to play as recognizable characters like Optimus and Bumblebee in multiplayer is promising, and I'm looking forward to seeing how some of those more powerful options, like the airstrike station, can change things up.
Our brief time with Fall of Cybertron made us hopeful in some ways and apprehensive in others. Most of all, it left us wanting more time with the game--more time to learn how to make effective use of each class, more time to practice working effectively as a team, and most of all, more time to find a goofy-looking head for our custom Destroyer-class Transformer. Thankfully, we won't have to wait too long; Fall of Cybertron is scheduled for release on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC this August.