GDC 07: Warhound First Look

We check out a work-in-progress version of Techland's upcoming first-person shooter.

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Tentatively scheduled for release toward the end of this year, Warhound is a ChromeEngine-powered first-person shooter in which you'll assume the role of a modern-day mercenary for hire. Members of the Techland development team are in San Francisco for the Game Developers Conference this week, and they graciously agreed to stop by the GameSpot office and demo a work-in-progress PC version of the game for us a couple of days early. We didn't get to play on this occasion, but after being treated to an action-packed demonstration and getting lots of new info, we came away from the meeting feeling suitably impressed.

Perhaps because there aren't too many professions that combine world travel with weaponry, being a mercenary is a competitive business. Your goal in Warhound is to become the best mercenary in the world, and so while dealing with the enemies of whoever is paying you, you'll need to keep an eye out for your business rivals, as well. Although Warhound will purportedly feature a strong storyline, your progress through the game will be anything but linear. After completing the first mandatory mission, as well as every mission thereafter, you'll be presented with a world map showing the locations of jobs that are currently up for grabs. Clicking on a job icon will open a window with more information in it, including mission objectives, how much money you'll be paid upon completion, and any skills that you'll need before being allowed to accept the assignment.

Warhound's environments look great, and offer hiding places aplenty for you and your enemies alike.

The three main skills in Warhound's role-playing-game-like character-progression system are alpinist, mechanic, and weapon specialist. Spending points on improving these will make you better at negotiating rough terrain, handling and maintaining vehicles, and using heavy weapons and explosives, respectively. Secondary skills will also prove useful on certain missions, though the only example cited during today's demo was an electronics specialization that will let you crack security codes, steal data from hacked computers, and the like. Quite how you'll earn the points necessary to level up your skills isn't clear at this time, but how you spend them will obviously have an impact not only on which missions you're permitted to take on, but also on how you tackle them. We're told that there will be at least three quite different routes through each mission in Warhound, and it seems reasonable to assume that each will favor a different specialization.

Since you'll effectively be running a one-man business in Warhound, it should come as no surprise that finances are going to play a large role in the game. You'll be able to augment the income that you get from completing missions by selling any weapons, vehicles, and other items that you obtain along the way, though it's worth noting that the amount you can carry will be realistic, so don't expect to be lugging your entire arsenal around and stashing extra rocket launchers in your pocket. You'll also have plenty of expenses to consider, of course. Weapons and ammunition don't come cheap, and it's a safe bet that buying and maintaining vehicles will hit your bank balance pretty hard, as well. More interesting expenses will be incurred during your preparation for any given mission, when you'll have the option to purchase additional mission information in the form of satellite photos showing enemy positions and such. The more money you spend, the more reliable the information will be, so you might get to choose between a photo that's a week old and one that's only a few hours old, for example. While preparing for a mission, you'll also need to spend some money securing an escape route for yourself, and, again, you'll get what you pay for. Having a helicopter meet you at an evacuation point close to the mission area won't be cheap, so if you're feeling thrifty, you might prefer to hike to a village on the other side of the map where some guy with a beaten-up old car has agreed to give you a ride.

Based on what we saw of Warhound today, your objectives will vary a great deal from mission to mission. Destroying weapon stashes and taking down drug lords were among the more predictable objectives that we saw, while more interesting examples that we were told about included rescue and escort missions as well as a trip to Africa to protect rare elephants from poachers. The enemies that we saw during our demonstration already appeared to be behaving quite intelligently, and when they weren't busy moving in and out of cover, they were putting their weapons to good use. In the finished game, enemies will purportedly work together in groups, and if you're close enough, you'll be able to hear them conversing and giving each other orders in their native languages.

During certain missions you'll have to deal with rival mercenaries as well as enemies.

Spicing up certain missions will be other mercenaries whose reasons for being in the same area as you might not become apparent until your paths cross. Every other mercenary in the game is essentially a business rival, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you'll be gunning for each other. Sometimes your objectives will clash--a good example of which would be your being tasked with assassinating a target that another mercenary is trying to protect. It sounds like there will be plenty of occasions when the presence of another mercenary will be beneficial, though, and we're told that in at least one mission you'll have a competitor providing cover for you with a sniper rifle. In other missions you might find that a number of your rivals are working on the same assignment as you are, so you'll be racing to complete the key objectives before they do.

All of the locales that we saw during our Warhound demo had a natural feel about them and were devoid of all but the most basic manmade structures. The environments were filled with great-looking trees and foliage, and although not all of them are physics enabled just yet, those that were reacted quite convincingly as the player brushed past them or decided to use them for target practice. Other neat visual touches that we noticed during our demo included water lapping on a beach, stray bullets kicking up dust, and a great depth-of-field effect that blurs objects in the foreground when you zoom in and focus on something far away.

In addition to the single-player game, which promises to offer plenty of replay value with its nonlinear structure and randomized enemy locations, Warhound will support a number of different multiplayer modes for up to 32 players. The game's multiplayer content hasn't been finalized at the time of writing, but we're told that conventional deathmatch and capture-the-flag-style modes will be complemented by objective-based games that are somewhat reminiscent of the single-player missions. The maps used in multiplayer games will be smaller than those you get to explore when playing solo, and Techland plans to include an easy-to-use map editor with the game.

Warhound still has several months of development time ahead of it, and we'll be keeping a close eye on it. We look forward to bringing you more information as soon as it becomes available.

Discussion

94 comments
Cortana101
Cortana101

Is this game even coming out? I have seen the same information since last year and no release date. Hmm...

Meat_Bag
Meat_Bag

This game looks really promising... kind of like Jagged Alliance 2, only from a single mercenary's perspective. In other words, a dream come true, at least on paper. Let's just hope they don't mess it up, or cancel it.

MERGATROYDER
MERGATROYDER

Visuals look good, but so did FarCry 2. lol. Where did originality go? I'm tired of the same old games.

p-ryman
p-ryman

I think it has the potential to be great. Now if only it lives up to expectations.

johnryandaplin
johnryandaplin

sigh, same old same old, mercenary, shooting, bah, im not buying this game

sakaiXxX
sakaiXxX

.....far cry plus mercenaries?

MadSasquatch3
MadSasquatch3

It seems like far cry,yeah but i think this has the potential to be waaay better

HAL5000
HAL5000

Dam, I bet I already play it ...lol...a far cry from originality...

Derek1177
Derek1177

Looks like Far Cry 2 a bit. mite be good but looks like a cheap copy of Far Cry 2 if you ask me. but ill give it a chance.

TheClown24
TheClown24

ugh the fire graphics in picture 16 look awful

ParaBellum71
ParaBellum71

@H U R D How will the RPG elements ruin the game? Just because you dont think youve played a FPS with RPG elements doesnt mean you havent. Did the RPG elements in COD4's Multyplayer ruin it(And if you deny gun upgrades as RPG elements then whats Stalker ?)Progression didnt ruin Crackdown.... not that anyone realy gave it a shot.

connor52
connor52

i hope that it is better than call of juarez it looks like it wil play just like that piece of crap

valttu
valttu

Hopefully it will be good. I'm not sure yet if I'm impressed or not. Well anyways, at least Far Cry 2 will rockkk...

H_U_R_D
H_U_R_D

this game looks very good, almost like far cry, but lets hope the rpg-style points progression doesnt hurt the gameplay, b/c that seems out of place to me in an fps

firo999
firo999

i am impressed but everybody knows that it will not live up to games like farcry2, i will surely be buying this game when it comes out

scoobydoo19911
scoobydoo19911

warhound have very good graphics but the real chrome engine presentation is chrome 2 . chrome 2 have better graphics, gamplay, psyhics than crysis sorki za błędy ale mój angielski jest słaby-my english is weak

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

took obvious inspiration from FarCry, lets just hope its as good.

Lightworks
Lightworks

Sure looks neat... also watched the 'environment interaction movie' on the website. I'm sure I'll get it anyway, since Techland also kind of 'announced' the free-roaming FPS genre with Chrome (long before Far Cry). And then there's of course the unequaled western shooter Call Of Juarez! I have confidence in the guys that they once will make one of the greatest shooters ever as they have it in them.

shifty_saint
shifty_saint

Looks like a farcry hybrid, however, the graphics concept remind me of Operation Flashpoint ( obviously improved), but you never know this game could turn out alright.

ppau08223
ppau08223

im just interested in this game for its graphics. ill have to see more of it though

foritxxar
foritxxar

Looks like a good rental when it comes out, or, if it does really well, maybe I'll buy it...

Ravi_1900
Ravi_1900

Call of juraez is a good looking game but it had some stocky animations and bad textures at certain places. I hope if this game removes those things and comes out with a innovative gameplay then it could be a surprisingly good game.

Glordit
Glordit

@ "juxax" Chrome was crazy! I loved the weapon mods made it IMO GOTY! As for Crysis nothing ca beat that yet... ;)

conkertheduke88
conkertheduke88

how strange...it is not always wise to judge a game based on ratings....i have plenty of games that i love that were given under 5s or 6s and crappy ratings.... based on personal taste

bern20
bern20

If it gets a 9.0 and above I will get it.

WarGameJunkie
WarGameJunkie

I'm very interested in this game. I hope it is released in the US in time for Christmas this year. The environments sound cool as do the objectives.

NikoInfa
NikoInfa

This game looks pretty cool, but i'll probaly rent it, instead of buying it.

TigerGuy06
TigerGuy06

It looks decent from the first impression. Hopefully this will pan out well.

juxax
juxax

I dunno why everyone here is saying it looks like crysis, it looks more like Chrome, 'yknow, the engne it's running on, didn't you guys play chrome?! that game rocked, it was everything unreal 2 should have been, with nice guns and realism.

maxfire45
maxfire45

I think this game seems cool. The competition with other mercs, The only thing I think that will make or break it is the assiging different mercs for different things. But I guess what it comes down to is it probably dosen't matter to me My comp probably wont run it :(

Sanguis_Malus
Sanguis_Malus

So then, another generic, by the book fps then. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. Still, lets wait and see I suppose ........

dennis8
dennis8

only time will tell........

chemeleon_789
chemeleon_789

I don't want to play another third rate f**king jungle/desert based ego stroking gun humping commando game. Pleaaaaaaaaaase, no more. Crysis, Gears Of War, Countless WW2 shooters, enough is enough. Make something ORIGINAL. The fun is in the SHOOTING, the fact you add some dumb chauvinist just gives gamers a bad name. Nobody cares. I don't care if I play as a 80 year old woman or someone who cleans toilets. That's actually a good idea. Honestly, gah... it's like a bunch of 30 somethings playing with their G.I.Joe's. No that's not sexual. G.I Joes have guns, not organs.

tboss
tboss

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

mtecher
mtecher

Well I dont think ill like it the scoped shot was alsmot worse then no sitting what the hell is that bull #*$Y#. Well anyways it looks ok i really dont care how it looks though, I would rather play a game that has some skill.

mtecher
mtecher

Well I dont think ill like it the scoped shot was alsmot worse then no sitting what the hell is that bull #*$Y#. Well anyways it looks ok i really dont care how it looks though, I would rather play a game that has some skill.

sirius4k
sirius4k

Looks like a copy of Crysis.

canelasr
canelasr

I like the way how we are supposed to enhance our profile as well as our finances. Graphics look good. I also like the rivalry that will build up with our "fellow" mercenaries. Like it so far.

the_keebler_elf
the_keebler_elf

Possibly better then Far Cry, can't compete with Crysis.

CaribouLou5
CaribouLou5

It's sounds interesting, as long as the gameplay is good.

Grechin
Grechin

This game looks alright. I don't have much to say on it though.

cjcr_alexandru
cjcr_alexandru

It sounds good. Especially because of its "nonlinear structure and randomized enemy locations".

smokingzen
smokingzen

This game looks excellent. It's certainly not a bad thing that this game looks like Farcry and Crysis. I doubt it will be as good as the later, yet if it is anywhere near as good as the former i will be happy. It looks like it will be a good solid FPS with nice graphics and plenty of replayability.