If you've stuck with .hack this far, you'll undoubtedly want to witness the resolution in the episodic series' seventh installment--and the final third of the current //G.U. trilogy--called Redemption. In addition to bringing closure to the storyline featured in this latest trio of games, Redemption will offer gameplay improvements and new features across the board that sound like they'll fit the bill nicely for diehard fans of .hack. This one seems as though it's being crafted specifically for those fans who have stuck it out thus far, since they'll see upgrades in just about every category.
The biggest new feature that we saw during our demo was a new "Xth" form for main character Haseo. This form comes about when Haseo's character data within the World (the fictional massively multiplayer game in which this series takes place) is accessed and modified by a mysterious hacker. The result, of course, is a new set of powers for Haseo that should be unattainable for normal players of the World. In practical terms, the Xth form will give you a pair of sizeable pistols with blades on their barrels that will do more damage the closer you are to an enemy when you attack them. You can also use these pistols to perform a "double trigger" attack after invoking one of your special abilities, which adds on just a bit more damage.
As an episodic series, .hack has always been big on reusing environments from one game to the next, but Redemption will offer a few new locales for you to adventure in. A couple of new root towns, Breg Epona and the Net Slum, will serve as the World's seedy digital underbelly. There will also be a couple of new dungeon types. One will be a junglelike environment, while the other, an "outer dungeon," will have a high-tech, Tron-like appearance. Finally, once you've approached the end of the game, you'll find a 100-floor dungeon that only the best players with the most powerful parties will be able to survive.
Luckily, the level cap in Redemption is moving up from 100 to 150 and the total number of playable characters will move up to 22, so you'll have plenty of room to expand your combat prowess. The developers are also adding a new awakening power, called the "avatar awakening," that you can use when your party is in dire straits in battle. This one actually serves as a data drain, extracting virus cores from your enemies that you can cash in to upgrade your weapons. All these gameplay upgrades will be joined by a new steam bike (along with new riding missions), new cards for the Crimson Versus game, and one new arena battle.
Redemption is slated for release in the fourth quarter, so fans can look forward to seeing .hack's latest multigame story through to the end at that time.