Hellgate: London Updated Hands-On - Multiplayer, Cabalists, and Hunters

We get our hands on this upcoming first-person action role-playing game and try out the new character classes and cooperative multiplayer.

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The same creative talent that put together the insanely addictive hack-and-slash game Diablo is now hard at work on a new game that's all about blasting through waves of evil demons who have invaded a near-future version of our world. Unlike other action role-playing games, Hellgate: London plays from a first-person perspective, and the recently revealed hunter class actually plays a lot like a first-person shooter character. We recently got our hands dirty with the hunter class, and the spell-slinging cabalist, in both single- and multiplayer play.

Is that a blood zombie, or are you just happy to see me?

Even though Hellgate: London looks a lot like a first-person shooter, it's actually an in-depth RPG with all the trimmings--your character has ability scores, various skills and powers to unlock, and an inventory that includes various slots for armor items your character can wear, as well as weapons that can be equipped in your character's main or offhand. Both the templar profession, which specializes in hand-to-hand combat, and the cabalist, which uses high-tech weapons enhanced with eldritch magic, mostly need to point their weapons in the general direction of their enemies and attack using mouse clicks (the left mouse button causes your character to attack with the weapon equipped in his or her main hand; the right mouse button attacks with the offhand). However, the hunter doesn't automatically lock onto targets and must manually aim.

The hunter's basic statistics include accuracy, concentration, willpower, and stamina, which can be increased when you gain experience levels to improve your abilities as a marksman and as a scout. The class possesses several basic skills, as well as three primary skill trees: weapons (which include skills like increased critical-hit damage and the ability to make fired shots ricochet and damage nearby enemies), devices (such as automated drones and walking turrets that follow you to provide backup fire), and stealth (including skills that let you temporarily cloak yourself or reduce your chances of being detected on the move). While the templar class is based on the ancient order of the Knights Templar, the hunter is clearly the most technologically advanced profession in the game. Hunter characters start off wearing jointed metal power armor and look for bigger and better conventional armaments, like assault rifles and submachine guns equipped with explosive incendiary rounds.

The hunter profession likes to pack serious heat.

Though the game is not yet finished, we played with a working version of the hunter, which begins the game wielding a pair of powerful thermal blaster guns in either hand. Pointing and shooting at enemies seems as easy and responsive as in other first-person shooters, but things get interesting once you start experimenting with different weapons. For instance, shortly after we began our play session, we picked up a handheld grenade launcher, which tossed explosives a short distance but damaged all nearby enemies with the explosion. We were able to tag far-off enemies behind cover by lobbing grenades in an upward arc to bring them charging toward us. Unfortunately, while the hunter is Hellgate: London's ranged-weapon specialist, it's not equipped well for close combat, which is why you need a pile of health-injector items mapped to your nearest hotkey--or a good party of friends to come with you.

Hellgate's cooperative multiplayer has apparently been up and running for some time now at Flagship, and we had a chance to run with a small party, playing as a cabalist character. The cabalist, like the game's other characters, can wield a weapon in either hand, though this character class typically uses both ranged weapons and "focus items"--magical artifacts that channel the character's sorcerous powers into bolts of energy. You can tell when a cabalist is in play because of all the crazy projectiles that are flying around--these characters may be firing plasma weapons or hurling arcing bolts of purple lightning, or both at the same time. In addition to several base-level class abilities, the cabalist's specialized skills include focus (which gives cabalist characters power over elemental fire and the life force of those around them), summoning (which lets cabalist characters summon fire elementals, demons, and undead minions to fight alongside them temporarily), and shifting (which lets cabalists change their own shape into a variety of monsters).

Like hunters, cabalists seem to do their best work when fighting their enemies at range. Because they have an auto-aim feature, they seem to be excellent support characters that can continuously pound their foes with weapon fire while hanging back in safety to activate various special abilities, such as summoning magical creatures for support or siphoning off a portion of their own life force to heal their teammates. They don't look like the sturdiest folk, considering all the bizarre, twisted weapons and armor they pick up, which make them look more like modern-day wizards than commandos, but the shifting skill tree does let cabalists take on the form of tougher monsters and, in a pinch, get up close and personal with the game's many hellish inhabitants, such as a zombie form that lets them claw their opponents to death.

Expect to see plenty of demonic carnage when Hellgate: London is released.

Though we played in a pick-up group that we assembled in a neutral train station (the game takes place in a postapocalyptic version of London, England--where the only safe havens are abandoned subway stations), our team members were able to quickly and easily grasp their roles. The templar class is best as a frontline fighter, but it also emits powerful "auras" within a certain range, indicated by shimmering circles around the character. We had no problem staying within range of our teammate's aura while repeatedly blasting away at our foes and occasionally summoning additional help or healing our teammates. Hellgate's bleak, beat-up environments look even cleaner and grittier than the last time we saw them at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo. Several of the game's early quests are now implemented, and we had no problems performing them with our group--at this time, once one group member completes a quest, the quest is considered completed for the entire group, and all characters can collect the rewards individually.

Hellgate: London's development seems to be progressing nicely. Now that the game has all three of its character classes created and a great deal of content built for it, it's looking more than ever like the game's fast pace, open-ended skill system, and piles and piles of different weapons and items will eventually make hopeless addicts out of anyone who gets a kick out of hacking and slashing away at monsters. The game will be released...when it's done.

Discussion

51 comments
Myriam_D
Myriam_D

DEFINITELY excited about Hellgate, mates. Six classes now (see later articles) but that's not the point-I want a cabalist. Summons and shifts are my favourite sorts of magics and so rarely do I see the latter. ^_^ Plus, out of all games, the most amount of fond memories I have are from Blizzard. Our family bonding time was tearing through the levels together over and over again on Diablo/D-2 co-op, for god's sake! (I miss my lvl 78 sorceress...) I STILL play WCIII and Starcraft, and me and my bro are eying Starcraft II. We're not buying many games these days (can't even afford next-gen systems...) but if any thing's sacred, we're putting our faith in Blizzard. Who's with me!?!? :D Best to ya, and later, Myriam D.

Dr4goN_PL
Dr4goN_PL

@Sheiko - How many classes there were at first Diablo? The answer is: THREE. And Diablo is still alive. To keep HGL alive Flagship will have to make identical way of feeling as it was in Diablo or just make it all the better.

salmanq
salmanq

take your time, just make it epic

HellsKing
HellsKing

I wouldn't fear hacks. I believe the multiplay sounds great. It's going to take some time for the old Diablo maniacs to get use to the FPS style, but it's going to be GREAT I SAY! ...And Ultra-Bigfoot, I'm confused on what your trying to say...maybe it's the wine that keeps me from reading it the way you intend, but...hell yes! This does look fun!

Jonnybiz
Jonnybiz

this is gonna rock most other pc games worlds@@!

Ultra-Bigfoot
Ultra-Bigfoot

World of Warcraft to expensive(i hope you don't have to pay!) Starcraft Warcraft and Diablo to lod and who plays those classic arcade games anyway This looks fun

grope2
grope2

This game doesn't look as promising as it did when it was originally announced, i'll buy it but i don't think it'll live up to expectation.

Flat_Line_____
Flat_Line_____

g8keyp Mmm, can someone dupe me a Hunter's Plasma Rifle of the Eagle? Oh lord, I fear the hacks. If this game can keep the online play honest, I'm stoked for it. =========================================================== Online play on the PC honest? Pfft........... give it a week after release and it'll be hacked, bet on it.

Sheiko
Sheiko

3 classes? hmm well lets hope they implement a huge tree for each otherwise as fun as it sounds it'll be short lived.

brhisawsome
brhisawsome

i agree partially with u chalonverse but i mean lets looks at a game like bf2142, that has 4 classes but each class can also double up on stuff, this mite be the case in hellgate in wich u have a guy thats a anti-tank medic sniper (pretty cheap but its an example.)

rugripper40
rugripper40

OZZY !!!!!!!!!...hell yeah...rock on dude...lol

2reddy
2reddy

Can't wait to kick demon butt!

DaRkNeSs2393
DaRkNeSs2393

This looks like a lot of fun. It really reminds me of Serious Sam.

chalonverse
chalonverse

I've played this game at the past two E3s, and while I want to be excited about it, I'm having a hard time. Three character classes seems like an extremely lean number, and it makes you wonder what precisely they've been working on for two and a half years if there's only going to be three classes and only some of the early quests have been implemented. It almost seems like Flagship just doesn't have enough people on their team, and as a result have had to cut content.

baiums_inferno
baiums_inferno

well im looking forward to this game! i would like to see a graphics update for weapons you carry in FPS veiw, and there's only 3 classes to choose from. but still, its definitely a game that im looking forward to.

siephanax
siephanax

Thinking of this game fills me full of goo...demon-slaughtering goo. Towels, anyone?

rugripper40
rugripper40

yeah...flagship...woohooo...this has got that old blizzard flavor written all over it...this looks so kool and fun.love the way that chick in tearing stuff up throwing purple stuff,firing,all kinds of action,awesome....the melee looks insane...very kool...im psyiked about this game.if i cant have diablo 3 or warcraft 4...lol...this will do just fine...killer artists at flagship...love those flying creatures...awesome.....cheers

cjcr_alexandru
cjcr_alexandru

I liked Diablo 2... a lot. And for now I see only one problem that this game has. Too few classes. Diablo 2 had, with its expansion, 7 (if I'm not mistaken), and this one has only 3. :(

ColdfireTrilogy
ColdfireTrilogy

hehe lets put it this way ... graphics dont mean jack ... D2 is still played by thousands almost 10 years after its release .... that games graphics are "utterly underwhelming" its gameplay 70% graphics 30% ... 1st generation games in which the graphics are the biggest aspect of the game usually dont do well...

wklzip
wklzip

This game will rock

foxhound421
foxhound421

wow. this doesn't look anywhere near as awesome as that video they showed at E3. i knew that video was just pre-rendered CG but these screens are pretty underwhelming IMO. then again, i'm sure they're nowhere near finished so i'll hold judgement for meow.

shadow_X_16
shadow_X_16

OH YEAHH CO-OP I LOVE THAT THING!! SOMEONE PASS ME THE PLASMA RIFLE!!! DUCK ANG OVER KILL MOSNTERS ALL OVER THE PLACE!!

aquinofgv
aquinofgv

this game will be freaking awesome

g8keyp
g8keyp

Mmm, can someone dupe me a Hunter's Plasma Rifle of the Eagle? Oh lord, I fear the hacks. If this game can keep the online play honest, I'm stoked for it.

peeweeshift
peeweeshift

character models are ok but explosions and evniroments look awesome

lnexus
lnexus

One of those games that I will look forward to in 2007, and hopefully I will have upgraded my PC by the time it is out

SnuffDaddyNZ
SnuffDaddyNZ

If it has the replayability and lootability that Diablo II had, then I am DOWN.

Deformer2
Deformer2

Been following this game for awhile now. Can't Wait!

asdfpo
asdfpo

this game is gonna rock!

CatPainTypo
CatPainTypo

I hope I can afford a new computer by the time this game is released. I can't imagine having more fun in a game than I have had with Diablo2... I hope they pull out all the stops.

xche78x
xche78x

me too! i would like to play this game. hope they deliver just like diablo 2 did with its expansion.

linmukai
linmukai

I am looking forward to this. When its done will be fine. I like my games well done. :-)

Truth01
Truth01

I'm soooo building my PC around this game. Most exciting game of 2007 hands down.

Alcotamaysees
Alcotamaysees

I love the diablo games, so this seems right up my ball park.

ArchfiendKing
ArchfiendKing

BAAA. I can't freaking wait for this game. Cabalist alllllll the way. So are these 3 trees going to be like WoW where you put points into by level, and can only really spec high in one tree? If so, it's gonna be real hard to choose....

bigmit37
bigmit37

I can't wait for this game...honestly this is the only PC game I am really excited about...too bad its going to be full year of waiting.

DukeEdwardI
DukeEdwardI

been tracking this for what seems like ages now...but still just as excited for its release.

ZodiakLucien
ZodiakLucien

this game is going to be so good. I highly look forward to this, all the classes sound good.

1valiantknight
1valiantknight

Definitely one of the games I am most looking forward to. It was a lot of fun to play at E3 even in such an early state and I have no doubt it will be fantastic when it's complete. These guys know what they are doing. I look forward to many hours in this game with my friends.