LEIPZIG, Germany--Last week, Codemasters announced that it is planning to release a free update for the Xbox 360 version of Overlord. The update, which is currently scheduled for release "soon," will add split-screen functionality to the game's multiplayer modes, which at the time of writing can only be played online. We paid a visit to Codemasters' UK headquarters en route to Leipzig last week and, while meeting with members of the Overlord team, we were afforded our first look at the split-screen mode in action on a handful of previously unseen maps. We're told that the maps will be released as premium content on the Xbox Live Marketplace later this year, although it's possible that one or two of the eight currently being play-tested might be included in the free split-screen update.
Overlord's split-screen mode will be supported in the pillage, slaughter, and survival modes of play, and two or three new maps for each mode are in the works right now. For those of you who aren't familiar with Overlord's multiplayer modes, pillage tasks you with profiting more from the ransacking of a village than your opponent, slaughter is an Overlord-flavored deathmatch, and survival is a co-op game in which you and a friend are pitted against a never-ending stream of monsters until you inevitably die.
Based on what we saw of the new maps, Triumph Studios is having some fun experimenting with the designs. One of the new survival maps, for example, will see you and your partner being chased around a path by a huge rock giant--larger than any that you've encountered in the game to date. The rock giant is invincible, so your only option is to keep running away from it while avoiding or killing any smaller enemies that hamper your progress. The twist is that any enemies you choose to sidestep will still be there on your next lap of the level...in addition to any new ones that show up. Every lap will inevitably end up being tougher than the one before it, and your goal, of course, will be to survive for as long as possible.
Another of the more memorable new maps that we got to see being played for a short while was titled Grab the Maidens. As its name suggests, this pillage map challenges you to capture as many maidens as possible and return them to your base. You'll need to protect any maidens that you capture in case your opponent attempts to steal them, and there will be a number of map-specific features that you can use to your advantage once you know your way around. During our demo, one of the players opened a gate to release zombies from a graveyard, for example, and the shuffling undead headed straight for his opponent's base.
Given that Overlord is the first Xbox 360 game for which Codemasters has attempted to release downloadable content, the company is planning to experiment with it somewhat. The first download to be released will be the aforementioned split-screen update, which may or may not be bundled with a new map or two. Additional new multiplayer maps will be made available subsequently, and we're pleased to report that Codemasters' Overlord plans don't end there. Single-player downloadable content was talked about briefly during our meeting, with ideas currently under consideration including a superhard "challenge" mode, new story elements, new playable characters, and new bosses.
No release dates have been announced for any of the aforementioned Overlord updates at this time. We look forward to bringing you more information as soon as it becomes available.