Darkspore Hands-On

We grab a squad of powerful alien creatures and explore the planet Cryos.

While the name of the game does share the word "spore," one thing that Maxis wanted to make clear was that this is not a sequel or an expansion pack for the PC game Spore, which was released two years ago. The idea for Darkspore spawned before Spore was even finished, and the new action role-playing game is meant to leverage the powerful editor that was created for Spore. Darkspore is a hack-and-slash RPG that is similar to Diablo but with a sci-fi theme instead of the traditional fantasy setting. We went down to EA at Redwood Shores to get some hands-on time with the game and found it to be easily accessible and quite fun when played with up to four players cooperatively online.

The area we were placed in was called Cryos, a planet with floating ice fields over plasma. Before visiting any new planet, you'll be able to check out what kind of non-player characters are going to be there and what kind of abilities they have. Each planet is vastly different from the others, so it's crucial to see what you're going up against and pick the best team to bring with you. We were able to play cooperatively with three other people and had our three creatures already picked out for us. Instead of playing through a game with just one hero, Darkspore focuses on a collection of heroes, so that you have plenty of variety and can create the best possible team before checking out a new planet. As we saw in our previous preview, the game will have five different creature types, each with its own resistances. Every hero that you play as will be unique, as you can customize it based on all the pickups you get as you progress through the game.

The controls are really easy, and if you are at all familiar with hack-and-slash PC games, then this should be a no-brainer. To move your creature, you left click anywhere on the ground and attack by pointing and clicking vigorously on an enemy. Numerical hotkeys are lined up for you to use your special abilities, which are unique to each creature. We played around with a stun attack, chain lightning, and a bubble shield, which came in handy when we faced the world's boss. You have an ammunition bar that drains, so you can't spam these abilities forever. Some of these abilities can only be used if all the members of your squad are alive, so it's important to pay close attention to your health. Using the Q, W, E keys, you can quickly swap out members of your team when your health is running low--but be warned that some foes can use an ability that prevents you from switching. As you pick up healing items, your entire squad will heal together, so you'll be as good as new in no time. There is a major focus on loot in Darkspore, so as you slash your way through, there will be plenty of items to pick up and catalysts to buff your heroes.

Our squad was like a balanced variety pack. We had one creature with long strong limbs that was a powerful melee fighter, a multiple-legged creature that was fast and nimble, and to round out the party, a flying buglike member that attacked from a distance. This came in handy when we faced the boss, which would constantly summon little critters that left a trail of flames in their wake. It was crucial to work together with the other players because the boss had a tendency to send its lasers after one person. Another thing to pay attention to is what kind of creature you're fighting against because you may need to swap characters if you're facing an enemy that is resistant to a particular creature type.

Yes, we get lasers too.

While our time with Darkspore was brief, we did get a feel of how the game will work. As far as control goes, it's fairly straightforward, making it accessible to a wider audience. There seem to be plenty of things to do that we haven't been able to fully explore yet, like finding out what kind of power-ups we can pick up and play with and customizing our own creature. We'll be sure to update you with more information as soon as it becomes available. Darkspore is set to ship sometime next year.

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Discussion

22 comments
tenaus
tenaus

Looks better than spore, and probably will unless the developers employees all fall dead.

feryfix
feryfix

Darkspore is almost Spore 2. It's great! Any ones know when beta release?

rapiergv
rapiergv

@hotrob2020 nope, it's not

River_Horse
River_Horse

I need to wait for more information before I say if this is good or not. Not forming an opinion based on a cinematic trailer.

Imadocoon12
Imadocoon12

It's meant to be an original game separate from Spore, but you will be able to upgrade your creature, Not necessarily create but definitely upgrade with armor and accessories. This game as we all know is going to be Spore's Successor, from which I've seen from RPG games such as the Warcraft 3 mod DotA and the similar one HoN, Darkspore will be sure to attract enthusiastic RPG fans and players alike. Be sure to visit my blog "Leb on the Web" for more Lebanon-related news.

Wolfsclaw99
Wolfsclaw99

"attack by pointing and clicking vigorously on an enemy." What does this sentence tell me? Need to get replacement mouse and keyboard before this comes out.

hellgothx145
hellgothx145

this game is going to be creatively fun.

Kronblom71
Kronblom71

wow I bet theres a fantastic backstory to all of this:)

JorundJ
JorundJ

Oh yeah! Now this is what spore had to be. Love the dark look of it.

ThePurpleBubble
ThePurpleBubble

@everyone saying that you won't be able to customize your creature Yes, you will - you just sart from a base creature, and then proceed to change everything about them. Their reasoning behind this is that starting with a basic creature and then working up is much less intimidating than starting with a blob. Makes sense, in my mind.

brian_13un
brian_13un

Hope you can create your own Squads and Creature because it will not look like Spore if it does not have those things

LionBeast
LionBeast

I dont get it will they deny us the option to make the cretures that will be our heroes? Because if thats the case spore will not be much of a diffrence from the other diablo like rpgs. I want to make my character and add the armor and weapons the way i wont but so far i only hear that we can choose the gear not constructing our characters.

pudgexd
pudgexd

WOW sci fic hack and slash.... Something different , hope it turns out good.

ralph2190
ralph2190

lol Maxis tried to do it like Blizzard's Starcraft 2 teaser

j0abell
j0abell

Sounds interesting, but I'm a little confused - will we still be creating creatures in some sort of creature creator at all? Or just using creatures that kinda look like Spore creations? If the former, that sounds interesting, but if the latter.. meh.

Bhemont
Bhemont

what is this, i dont even