Gas Powered Games managed to tease everyone at the last Sega Gamer's Day just before E3 with the announcement of a new RPG, although they didn't actually give any hard information about the game. They've remedied that on the first day of E3, though, where we managed to get our first look at Space Siege, the upcoming continuation of the Dungeon Siege franchise.
Fans of Dungeon Siege will recall it as a romp through somewhat standard fantasy settings: the overgrown forest, the dank dungeon, and so on. In it, you guided a small party of adventurers on their quest, each of whom usually played a specific role in the party. Space Siege, on the other hand, takes place...well, in space. And you won't be attempting to control a large party of characters this time around: instead, you control one Seth Walker, the hero of the story and the man who's attempting to save all of humanity.
The story begins late in the 22nd century, as humankind has spread outward from Earth and begun exploring the galaxy by sending out ships to hunt for new habitable planets. The first world they land on, though, contains an alien race, the Kerak, who don't take kindly to humanity's presence. In fact, they manage to follow the colony ship's path back to Earth and proceed to wipe the planet clean of all life by cracking the planet's crust with powerful lasers. Bummer.
Luckily, Seth Walker commands another colony ship that was about to take off for solar systems unknown just as the aliens attacked. Although he manages to escape the destruction of the Earth, he doesn't manage to leave the solar system before the aliens locate his ship and manage to land a boarding team on it. As the game progresses, Seth's mission will entail tracking down the aliens before they manage to spread throughout the ship and eradicate humanity entirely.
Gas Powered Games is pretty straightforward about their goals with the game: while it will have a brand-new rendering engine, they're not intending to reinvent the graphical wheel. (Even though the game is early in development, it may not support DirectX 10, to give you an idea.) Instead, their focus will be on allowing you to inhabit the character of Seth and telling a deep and engaging story. One of the ways in which they intend to focus the player's attention is to eliminate the traditional large party of characters that you travel with in RPGs. Instead, Seth will be the only character that you're capable of controlling in the game, although he will be able to have a robotic friend named Harvey that will proceed with him and who can help out during combat.
Seth's story revolves around his experiences with cybernetic experimentation. As the game progresses, Seth will be capable of replacing body parts, such as his arms, eyes, or even his lungs, with mechanical parts that will make him better...stronger...faster. These parts will also grant him special abilities that will make the game much easier than it would be otherwise. However, as you increase the amount of Seth's cybernetic upgrades, his "humanity meter" will drain. This acts as a kind of default difficulty setting for the game; you won't switch from easy to hard mode as you get better, but will instead be able to set the level of challenge by either withholding upgrades or going for broke and attempting to make Seth into a walking robot. The other characters in the game will react differently to Seth depending on how freakish he becomes, as well, and we're betting that the ending of the game will depend on how far you experiment with these upgrades.
Chris Taylor and GPG also use the humanity meter as a way to bridge the divide between casual and hardcore gamers. Hardcore gamers will be able to compete with each other by attempting to complete the game with the fewest cybernetic add-ons, while players who simply want to relax and have fun will be able to upgrade themselves fully and enjoy blasting their enemies.
Beyond the basics, the developers aren't saying much about the enemy Kerak race in the game, and we weren't shown many of them besides some very basic spider-esque creatures, although we assume that there are many more varieties of enemies to face as you travel through the world. We're told that the colony ship will have a wide variety of environments to travel through, including a hydroponics garden, engineering, and various others.
We were also told a bit about the planned multiplayer features in the game. As in the first Dungeon Siege game (but not Dungeon Siege II), the multiplayer in Space Siege will consist of brand-new adventures; you won't simply be plopped down in a co-op version of the single-player world. Instead, short scenarios that range from 15 minutes to an hour in length will let you and your friends take on aliens in a much more visceral experience than in the single-player game. There's a basic story that ties the multiplayer missions together, but the focus is on blasting the Kerans with a few friends helping you out. Four players will be able to get together at the same time, each with a robotic helper, and the difficulty of these missions is scalable over different areas of gameplay.
Although Space Siege is still at the beginning of its development cycle, Gas Powered Games seems optimistic in the direction it's taking with the new game. The title won't be hitting PCs until late in 2008, but you can stay tuned to GameSpot for plenty of coverage in the future.