Dark Messiah of Might and Magic Updated Hands-On - Multiplayer, Classes, and Physics Sending Guys Flying

We log in some time with the action-packed, class-based multiplayer in this fantasy-themed PC action game.

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Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, the upcoming action game from developer Arkane Studios and publisher Ubisoft, is what happens when you combine the fantasy lore of the Might and Magic universe, the multiplayer know-how of Battlefield 2, and the explosive physics of the Source engine. The game will feature a highly open-ended single-player game that will let you end the miserable lives of ugly, ferocious monsters in all kinds horrible ways, with swords, sorcery, arrows, or one of many different kinds of environmental traps that take advantage of the same physics that powered Half-Life 2. But it will also offer class-based, online multiplayer play with a highly unusual, persistent "campaign" that will let you carry your achievements into the next round.

Dark Messiah will offer class-based multiplayer, sorcery, and a persistent campaign.

While Dark Messiah will apparently ship with standard head-to-head deathmatch, its primary multiplayer mode will be "crusade" mode, which will pit a team of human warriors against a team of undead minions. From what we can tell so far, there won't be any significant gameplay differences between undead and human characters, but which side wins each battle will definitely affect a crusade match's outcome. The multiplayer game will take place in a portion of Ubisoft's revised Might and Magic fantasy realm--the same realm that the French publisher created from scratch for its recent PC strategy game, Heroes of Might and Magic V. (In fact, the crusade multiplayer mode is intended to be a prequel to Heroes V, a game in which the lands of the humans were invaded by undead marauders.)

The first battle of any new crusade match will take place on a central map, and the victorious team will actually bump the two sides to a specific next map. If the humans win the day, the next battle will take place on a mountainous map called Nelsham's Scar, whereas if the undead win the first battle, the next match will take place on a map called Vradek's Crossing. Eventually, the team that manages to win several times in a row will push the opposing team back to its stronghold, where a final battle will take place.

Though the multiplayer mode is in full production at Kuju Entertainment in the United Kingdom, its design is being spearheaded by Arkane designer Romain de Waubert de Genlis, a former producer and designer on the Battlefield multiplayer shooter series. Crusade, like Battlefield's conquest mode, will focus on capturing and holding various control points scattered throughout the map--control points that become "spawn points" (places where you can jump into the game again after you're killed in battle) when your side controls them. From what we can tell, most maps will start each side on opposite ends, with a few points near each side's rearmost control point. Though the maps we played on weren't perfectly symmetrical, we saw several instances of teams quickly snagging the first few control points, making coordinated rushes toward the middle of the map to seize the central point, and moving onward into enemy territory. Like with the Battlefield series, losing control points or dying will cost your team points, which decrease over time.

Swords will be pitted against sorcery. Here's a hint: Swords tend to win up close.

However, unlike the Battlefield series, Dark Messiah will have a set of character classes inspired by medieval fantasy. The game will offer five different professions you can play as: the archer, the mage, the priestess, the warrior, and the assassin, all of which share some of the abilities of the single-player game's hero, Sareth. However, unlike Sareth, who uses both swords and sorcery, the multiplayer classes are more specialized--but they can also expand on their powers as they gain additional points for successfully defeating their enemies, capturing control points, and aiding their teammates. In addition, all classes have a stamina bar that determines how long they can continuously sprint (warriors are the worst sprinters, while assassins are the best), as well as health and energy meters that determine how much punishment they can take and how often they can use their special abilities, respectively.

Of the five classes, archers are the closest to a standard first-person shooter character, since they fire single arrows at their target. However, because of the game's Source-powered physics modeling, archers have to compensate for gravity and height differences (arrows aren't just straight shots--they'll actually dip downward over time), but they can also upgrade their arrows once they gain enough points. Mages are the game's heavy artillery and can specialize either in lightning or fire magics. At the beginning, mages are extremely weak, but once they gain enough points, they mature into devastating combatants that can send their enemies hurtling through the air, head over heels (thanks to physics), with explosive spells.

Priestesses can access a unified healing/harmful ability that automatically aids any nearby teammates and damages nearby enemies. The priestess class isn't about precise aim, but it can still provide great support for teammates and can also resurrect fallen teammates (who leave glowing skull icons behind that represent their souls) or devour the souls of fallen enemies to make sure they can't be revived. Warriors are the game's best melee combatants and use swords to attack (by left-clicking the mouse) and shields to block incoming attacks (by right-clicking the mouse). As warriors increase in level, they also gain powerful melee abilities, such as a headlong charge attack that can knock enemies off their feet. Finally, the assassin class uses twin daggers to dispatch enemies from behind, and can also learn techniques like laying traps and enhanced stealth that causes them to become mostly invisible. Like in the single-player game, left-clicking and holding the mouse using assassin's daggers causes you to ready and hold for a strike; if you can successfully deliver this attack from the rear, even if you aren't hidden by stealth, your assassin's arms will change their position to an overhand blow, and you can let go of the mouse button to instantly kill your foe.

The classes all play very differently and offer enough variety to appeal to different playing styles.

Each of the game's classes seems to have a place on the battlefield, and each one is deadly if played well. For instance, it seems tempting to write off the warrior as perhaps being the least exciting class, since you generally have to get in close and repeatedly swing your sword; but the warrior is the absolute toughest class in multiplayer, and no other character--except another warrior--can stand up to a warrior's melee attacks. Assassins can upgrade themselves with enhanced stealth ability and an extended stamina bar that lets them sprint over much longer distances. Because assassins can instantly kill any enemy from behind, they can seem like absolute terrors on the battlefield, especially if they can sneak around a crowd of enemies trying to hold on to a control point (we assassinated as many as three enemy players, one after another, in just seconds), but they're weak as kittens once warriors start pounding on them or once they start getting blasted by enemy magic. Priestesses don't seem like they do well in battle, but by hanging back behind their allies, they can heal their teammates continuously as long as they have enough energy, and they can later learn useful spells like an entangling enchantment that slows any incoming foes. In a pinch, both mages and priestesses can swap out their finger-waggling for their trusty quarterstaves, which they can use to parry some melee attacks.

From what we can tell, Dark Messiah's multiplayer is not only fast-paced and brutal, but also packs in a lot of depth that should give players plenty of incentive to keep playing past round one. The game is scheduled for release later this year.

Discussion

47 comments
nambor100
nambor100

What would be realy kewl is if it has LAN capabiletys! I LOVE LAN PARTYS!!! PS: dont mine the spello's!

GrimsonTrials
GrimsonTrials

I hope there's a co-op mode, that would rock, playing through the campaign. That would sell it also I think. There's been no announcements of this feature that I know of, but I hope it's added or at least someone can make a decent co-op mod.

Eroded_Zyrus
Eroded_Zyrus

Thoroughly looking forward to this game, could fill in the blanks that Oblivion left out.

jbi00b
jbi00b

One of the most ambitious games ever made by Ubisoft...

sloppyj100
sloppyj100

wow this game sounds awesome, i was thinking of buying oblivion but now that ive taken a look at this 1 im starting 2 get second thoughts!!..

ralphieboy
ralphieboy

HAHAHA i can run it on Ultra High just like Oblivion and HL2!! and btw open beta and SP demo comes end of august for the fanboys like ME!!!!

Gwarpup
Gwarpup

AI will make or break it. In games with so many powers and abilities like this, they are more often than not TOO EASY. They give you a ton of choices to take out the enemy and thus the enemy cant begin to keep up, and thus get slaughtered as you torture the NPCs in so many different ways. That will be so boring! AI is everything in a game like this, and we want to be forced to outwit the enemy, not just have 100 ways to kill them. Otherwise this will be quite fun especially with Multiplayer and Map Developement tools for creating new types of games using the Engine.

ghasek
ghasek

can't wait for this.. maybe if I sleep the time will go faster.. wake me up when I can get this!

Zaphster
Zaphster

"Chernnunos: No alternate races? No Druid? No choice of gender? No thanks. thumbs down." Okay, you are such an enormous dumbass that it actually physically hurts me. I'm serious. I'm actually feeling slightly nauseous. Of course, you could just be kidding (which I, for your sake, really hope you do) and then, I would be a moderately sized dumbass too. Well, enough ranting. Can't wait for this game! It looks ace! Mmm, satisfying combat, mmmm...

timma25
timma25

For whoever is wondering about the graphic difference in HL2 and this, it's likely the shaders. Older cards (like mine) that can run HL2 fine, but struggle with this game, can't run newer shader programs. If your computer can't run games like Oblivion, your going to need to upgrade.

thedarkoracle
thedarkoracle

So the multiplayer is supposed to run like existing Battlefield games, huh? Which one, World War II or Modern Combat? I want my tanks. :D

RIanousuke
RIanousuke

"I loo kforawrd to this game cna somone tell me somthin tho. This game runs off the source engine right so if my comp runs HL2 just fine it should run this just as good right? Or did they inhance it?" My computer is able to run HL2: Lost Coast without too bad of a hit and the Beta for M&M kicks my computer's ass. I am hoping that this is just due to rough code since it is an early closed beta but the game looks much better than HL2, so you will definitely be seeing more of a performance hit. M&M is -so far- the best looking game to use Source and having played it I can tell you that screenshots don't do it justice. The animations are also very nice.

phatzui
phatzui

Looking forward to this, sounds exceptionally good on paper.

blackIceJoe
blackIceJoe

I would love to pick this game up looks like it would be fun.Its to bad I will have to pick up some new graphics cards but I guess thats ok.Project Offset does not look to be that good any more other then how the characters look.The battle way they where going to go with is the same way as Dark Messiah of Might and Magic.

louisJdemm
louisJdemm

well i think i am screwed because i only have a radeon XT 300 XT video card

Goze
Goze

"No alternate races? No Druid? No choice of gender?" Wow, you hold priority on character model tweaks and a "Druid" over everything else in the game? You obviously have no idea what constitutes a good game.

Hellisunreal
Hellisunreal

SWEET, Got some good ideas in there, let's c the execution

bjornmmcc
bjornmmcc

So, an updated Hexen huh? Looks good.

Chernnunos
Chernnunos

No alternate races? No Druid? No choice of gender? No thanks. thumbs down.

Zaxex
Zaxex

First person shooting games have been done so many times, yet they offer a good game, first person action is a great genre and it looks very likely that more games using it will pop up. Oblivion game the genre a god as jrr tolkien gave fantasy books. looking forward to this game :D.

Conor_220
Conor_220

Hell yeah can't wait for this title. Nice to see that developer taking a new direction.

ord1000
ord1000

One of the highlights for the autumn schedule of games to be released, that's for sure. I like the fact that it's RPG "lite" and more action orientated, like a FPS only without the guns.

Ced_Quijote
Ced_Quijote

"kul" indeed... hehehe. too bad I can't afford a laptop strong enough for this game... guess it won't be coming to the 360 either? too bad...

Ol_skool_Gamer
Ol_skool_Gamer

If your machine can run Oblvion and The Lost Coast demo of HL2/HL2 Episode 1, your in luck because this game will be smoothe like a babys *** on your comp. xD

Ol_skool_Gamer
Ol_skool_Gamer

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

thakingrocka
thakingrocka

thank god for the elder scrolls. oblivion convinced me that rpgs are worth playing again. all those slow, boring, terribly designed japanese rpgs had me swearing off the genre. oblivion has brought it back and now this game looks just as much fun if not more so. i am crazily excited to play this game; i just hope my machine can handle it.

Rossuron
Rossuron

Looks good, I might just get into M&M

sCaReCr0W
sCaReCr0W

I hope it plays as well as it sounds. From the looks of it, Arcane isn't holding back. They're pushing for this to be an amazing game all around, not just a really slick action game that's over after a few hours. Can't wait, and I hope they release a demo soon.

FRoStYisGoD
FRoStYisGoD

i seriously want this game RIGHT NOW!!!

The_Code
The_Code

I loo kforawrd to this game cna somone tell me somthin tho. This game runs off the source engine right so if my comp runs HL2 just fine it should run this just as good right? Or did they inhance it?

clinton514
clinton514

Best on PS....oops.. I can't wait for this game :)

Truth01
Truth01

This is the most anticipated PC game for 2006

QSn_
QSn_

i need this game

Edward1211
Edward1211

i cant wait i want it now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!