Hellgate: London Updated Q&A - Details on the New Hunter Class

Flagship Studios CEO Bill Roper fills us in on the recently revealed hunter class for this upcoming fast-paced action role-playing game.

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Though Hellgate: London represents the debut game from Flagship Studios, the developers certainly have a lot of game-making experience under their belt. The studio was founded by the creators of Blizzard's famed Diablo series, and Hellgate: London takes some of the core concepts of Diablo (randomly generated levels and nonstop action) and transplants them into a new action game that's set in the gutted remains of a futuristic London overrun by a demonic invasion. The game, which can be played from a first-person or third-person perspective, will let you hack the demons apart with futuristic swords as a templar, which is a type of knight. Or, you can blast them with spells as a cabalist, which is a spellcaster. The company also recently revealed a third faction, the hunter, which lets you shoot the demons with high-tech weapons. To get the details about this new faction, we caught up with Flagship CEO Bill Roper. Hellgate: London is scheduled to ship sometime next year.

The high-tech hunter class lets you slay demons the civilized way--with firearms.

GameSpot: First, it seems like we've been waiting a while for Hellgate: London. Can you tell us where the game is currently in development, what's left to do, and what's the current window for release?

Bill Roper: We're in the final push for getting physical content into the game. This means that while we don't really have more systems or tools to code, we are still putting in as much character, monster, item, and environmental art as possible. Choosing some number to represent the percentage of the game that is done is very difficult for us since we don't design to a concrete list of features. The iterative nature of our development process makes for the best games possible but also means we may be 100-percent done in some areas and then realize that we need to add one more element to make it what it needs to be. It also means we may cut back on a section that works better as is, rather than adding on extemporaneous design. If you want a number to use, though, we'd say it is in the 75 to 80 percent completion range.

As for release, we do not have a window yet. We will be entering into our "friends and family" beta at the very end of this year or early 2007. This will then move into a closed beta, followed by larger and larger numbers of players until we end up at an open beta very close to the launch date. Basically, how well our beta program goes will be determining our ship date.

GS: The big news over the past couple of weeks is, of course, the introduction of the new hunter faction. Could you tell us a bit more about the class specifically? How does it compare to the existing cabalist and templar classes?

Bad news for anglophiles, but London is overrun with demons in the future.

BR: The hunter faction is designed to appeal to the first-person shooter-style player--someone that wants to be fully immersed in the world and battle demons with high-tech weaponry and gadgets. While the templars focus mainly on melee combat and holy rituals and the cabalists use the powers of the demons against them through magical rites, the hunters use bleeding-edge tech to fight for mankind's freedom.

The hunter faction appeals to FPS players in several ways. First and foremost, since they primarily use all ranged weapons, they are best played in first-person mode. Secondly, player skill is a factor as we eliminate the autolock and soft-targeting features that the templar and cabalist use. Hellgate: London is a role-playing game, however, so level, skills, and equipment do matter. The player who chooses a hunter, however, will gain benefits from having a degree of personal FPS skills.

GS: Was the hunter always designed into the game and kept secret all this time? What was the reasoning behind the class?

BR: As a matter of fact, all three factions were in the basic game design from the beginning. As with the cabalist, players were looking for this type of experience and it made for a great synergy between our design and their desires.

We introduced the templar first, as it was the easiest faction to "understand" while we were laying out our new world and game ideas. The cabalist came next because players were asking, "What about a mage class?" The hunter followed as the third style of gameplay mechanic within the game and also happily coincided with gamers' interests.

GS: What about the hunter's skills? The templar, for instance, focuses on special auras, while the cabalist's skills are in various schools of sorcery. What kind of skills can the hunter unlock?

With their cool suits, the hunters look like futuristic ninjas.

BR: The hunter classes will focus on the use of tactics, weapons, and gadgetry to battle against the demons. We'll be getting into more detail as time goes by, but at the GStar show in South Korea, players were doing things as diverse as using positioning tactics such as crouching and banking shots off of walls and constructing robotic drones out of weapons.

GS: The templar looks sort of like a futuristic knight, while the cabalist is a bit more like a wizard inspired by the Mad Max movies. How do you describe the look of the hunter, and why did you go in that direction?

BR: The design for the hunter would be best described as a cross between [Splinter Cell's] Sam Fisher, the marines from Aliens, and the anime Jin-Roh. We wanted to have a faction that was firmly set in the technological side of our near-future world but had the edge of the mercenary and the mystery of the ninja.

From Hell

GS: The hunter seems like a very technology-heavy class, and we know the class is suspicious of magic. It's sometimes said that advanced technology could be mistaken for magic. Will that be the case with the hunter, or will the class actually use some sort of actual magic?

Some of the more advanced hunter weapons may seem magical.

BR: Arthur C. Clarke did indeed say that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. This is certainly the case with the hunters and is how they are able to battle against the resilient demons. They do not cast spells, but rather use Area 51-esque tech to their great advantage.

GS: With auto-aiming and target-locking turned off for the hunter, it sounds like this is going to be the class for fans of shooters. Will you play primarily through first-person when handling guns, or can you switch to third-person? And does this essentially transform the game into a shooter?

BR: We allow players to experience Hellgate: London from either first- or third-person viewpoints, and the game is designed to play equally well no matter how you want to look at it. The hunter's weapons definitely lend themselves to being played in first-person mode, and we do expect this to be a very appealing faction for FPS players.

It is important to point out that while the hunter does have many FPS gameplay components, Hellgate is still an RPG. The fundamental aspects of the game do not change in so much as you are still gaining experience, going up in levels, learning new skills, finding new weapons and armor and equipment, completing quests, and so forth. The mechanics of this, however, are very much driven from an FPS perspective when you play a hunter. While I don't know if it "transforms" the game into a shooter, we've had incredibly positive feedback from hardcore FPS players who have tried out the hunter.

Playing as a hunter offers more of a first-person shooter experience to the game, but it remains an RPG underneath.

GS: What sorts of guns will the hunter have access to? We see some fearsome-looking rifles and such in some of the early screenshots, including what looked like a shotgun and perhaps some kind of flame weapon. And what about melee weapons, especially since the hunter seems like it can also be played as some kind of high-tech swordsman?

BR: The hunter is focused on being a long-range weapons master who can use pistols, rifles, and heavy weapons. These all require a level of player skill to use and have a great many different types of effects. From more conventional-style weapons to Tesla tech-enabled volt rifles to massive HEAP launchers to flame bolt pistols, the list of possible weapons is large and the tactics involved quite varied.

We don't see the hunter as being a melee combatant. The templar, though steeped in ancient traditions, are swordsmen with access to some amazing technology themselves. Don't let the design of their armor fool you. With nanodyne servo systems and microfusion hydrolic systems, they are faster and stronger than you would expect.

GS: How are the system requirements looking right now? Hellgate was used to demonstrate the last generation of graphics processors, and it'll obviously run well on the latest hardware, but what about gamers with older systems?

BR: We are pushing in both directions in regards to the graphics and system requirements in Hellgate: London. We are a part of the Games for Windows, Vista, and DirectX 10 programs, so we're working closely with both Microsoft and Nvidia to make Hellgate: London as cutting edge as possible in that regard. At the same time, we are creating low-polygon versions of every art asset in the game and tuning our engine specifically to be able to support lower-end machines. We want as many people as possible to be able to experience Hellgate: London, whether they have a brand-new, state-of-the-art rig or an older computer.

GS: Finally, is the hunter the third and final class in the game, or do you have any other surprises in store for us later on? If not new classes, then new gameplay features or enemies?

Hellgate: London is due out sometime in 2007.

BR: The templar, cabalist, and hunter are actually factions. This means that they each represent different philosophies and beliefs, not to mention ways of combating the demonic threat, in the world of Hellgate: London. Within each faction will be different classes. This means that within the hunter faction there will be characters that focus on different aspects of their varied abilities. A way of thinking of this is if writer was a faction and novelist, poet, and journalist were its classes. All of them have a similar background and basic set of learning and skills, but their specialties are vastly different. The same will go for the classes within our factions.

We'll be revealing the individual classes in the upcoming months, as well as all the other gameplay features, enemies, and other tricks up our sleeves.

GS: Thank you, Bill.

Discussion

54 comments
pookme
pookme

Where can you find that Hunter armor in the third screenshot where it says "With their cool suits, the Hunters look like futuristic ninjas."?

usy911
usy911

DOOM 3 LIKE GAME IN LONDON THIS TIME., INSTEAD OF MARS LOL

Bakakim
Bakakim

The first opening cinematic was great, but some how didn't interest me and with the second cinematic it blew me away and made me wanting this game now and also by reading the previews im definitely pre-ordering it. The cinematic quality and execution is up there with Warhammer and WoW opening sequence I beleive but thats just my opinion. This game could be a triple A RPG\FPS title pc gamers have been waiting for.

Haruhi_love
Haruhi_love

yay its set in london woot maybe i will see my house hehe

RaiderVC
RaiderVC

I'm looking forward to this game, seems to have some similarities, albeit minor ones, to Deus Ex.

huy11324
huy11324

Looks amazing, glad blizzard isnt a part of it. GO FLAGSHIP STUDIOS! dont fck it up.

semperfi3
semperfi3

Interesting RPG and shooter in one game. Looks cool. www.PlugComputers.com - Custom Intel and AMD gaming computers.

TacNuke_Tyger
TacNuke_Tyger

So its basically a diablo-ish/quake hack/frag fest....is this what they mean by rpg?

gabwa007
gabwa007

omg this looks so cool! FPS and RPG in one game, my dream! All games should have RPG elements.

Ol_skool_Gamer
Ol_skool_Gamer

Hahah thartist, we're on the same page there. roflmaowecadc The huntar class is lookin' good though. Keep up the good work Flagship.

peeweeshift
peeweeshift

i want this for ps3 or 360 also. it looks so sick

hades200621
hades200621

Looks awesome reminde me the painkiller style of game mass killer...

opollo
opollo

if you have seen the gameplay, you wouldnt be sayin that... It looks dire....

8NP4iN
8NP4iN

sweet...im looking forward to this game...

Goliathvv
Goliathvv

Looks the HELL(gate) good... 2007 will be a a very interesting year, both for games and gaming technologies... Nvidia is working pretty hard on its series 8 cards (8800 GTX and GTS are already being sold) and Intel is doing a good job with it's core 2 duo and the coming core 4 duo, but ATI and AMD haven't showed us anything that incredible yet, 2007 will really be very interesting... SURPRISES TO COME! ^_^

thartist
thartist

This game with hordes of enemies, and the designer throwing stuff and stuff to levels (they say so), will make GAMEPLAY (aside from other features) something as stupid as Serious Sam, a rushed-nonsensed-frag-fest. The RPG elements may be highly overshadowed or secondary if that happens to be true. We'll see... THIS IS BY FAR THE MOST N E R D THING I'VE READ THIS YEAR: "Don't let the design of their armor fool you. With nanodyne servo systems and microfusion hydrolic systems, they are faster and stronger than you would expect." HAHAHA, OMG!!!!!

gedassan
gedassan

Vegedus, I really believe it is a way of saying "you can turn down the settings". And that is good, because by choosing low settings, one can launch it on a low-spec machine. If there were no low-poly models, you couldn't turn down the settings and the game would be unplayable, or wouldn't even launch:) And I don't think it is only the models, some other things might have to be optimized for the game to run well on low-spec machines.

aquinofgv
aquinofgv

I just can't wait to play this game.

vegedus
vegedus

"At the same time, we are creating low-polygon versions of every art asset in the game and tuning our engine specifically to be able to support lower-end machines." Someone tell me, is that ordinary to do in games or is it a special way of doing it? To me it sounds really powerful and something that may indeed enable lower end to play it, but I'm not sure if it's just their way of saying "Yeah, you can set it to low detail too".

soundmonster
soundmonster

Q4 2007? Man, delays again? DNF will be out before this is released.

rugripper40
rugripper40

sorry to hear that man...lol...cheers

earlthecannibal
earlthecannibal

Yawn... man by the time this game comes out the graphics engine will be old school ,and well to be honest.... i might be dead.

reya10276
reya10276

Oops let's see how this is going to look on the P$3, not nearly as good I bet so much for Kaz Hirai's comments about when next gen starts. The damn thing was already here for PC players that is!!

vengi
vengi

Looks Very impressive...I wonder If I can find my street :)

Kh1ndjal
Kh1ndjal

zomg shooting and role-playing, my 2 fav genres in one game, definitely cool

blackhammer77
blackhammer77

This is sounding REAL GOOD!!! An fps, and an rpg... can't wait

Sabooya
Sabooya

all i care about is shoot shoot blood scream :P

Greywind88
Greywind88

Oh wow, this new class looks really good. Now correct me if I am wrong, but I have been trying to keep up on this game. As far as I know, this game won't be online only or have a monthly fee. It is a terribly abused analogy, but it fits in this case. Think of Diablo. In Diablo, the game was entirely focused in a single player system, with a very good online separate. This hopefully will be the same. Single player and online play should both be options, but not required parts of the game. So for those who are sweating bullets over montly fees, or over strictly online only game play like me (makes rude gesture towards my dial-up modem), there should be no reason why we can't handle it, hardware strength issues aside. One big question that has been bothering me is the amount of a story that this game will have. Will it simply be a mindless level-grind or will it have a story to it? In Diablo (there is that darn connection again), the story definintely took a back seat to the gameplay, but still provided a nice background for the game unlike some more recent rpg's like Neverwinter Nights, whose story was not only bad but inhibiting towards the gameplay. I hope that Hellgate will take after its predecessor Diablo and not more recent endeavours in the rpg world. Anyway, all in all, this game looks absolutely superb and I can not wait for its final release.

rugripper40
rugripper40

yeah man... bill roper is blizzard,really.he and his crew made some awesome games....this game is probably going to look as amazing as it plays...i personally cant wait....thx flagship btw i cant stand mmo`s but im going to give this one a shot anyways.i hope we get a free trial before it lauches from my pals@gamespot.com......hint hint....lol

Butcherski
Butcherski

Too bad it will have a monthly fee :(

Nuclear_Kernel
Nuclear_Kernel

From what I seen in the movies playing with Hunter is like playing Doom 3. Hope that the factions won' t be based on : religious zealots (templar), hi- tech (hunter) and corrupted.

Amrikove
Amrikove

A third Faction ! ... Now I am hooked

Zeraquor
Zeraquor

OMG give me the game now I'm going insane here! :D

cjcr_alexandru
cjcr_alexandru

Q4 2007? That means I have to wait one more year. :(

predling
predling

Extemporaneous? Bleeding-edge? Bill has vocab in the extreme.

saugh
saugh

Looks great, hope it turns out well.

e1337prodigy
e1337prodigy

I can't wait, hope it plays as good as it sounds.

choto8
choto8

this game looks so promising, I hope I don't have to get a new gfx card to play this well =X

drollia
drollia

Cool, can't wait to see the finished product

Pinkyimp
Pinkyimp

MAN i hope this is good but they could have delayed it some more so it couuld be the second title to have DX10 and would look better but ya awsome!

Glordit
Glordit

Looks Amazing! too bad ill need a moster card to run it :( Wait I see... Q4... 2007 YES! I have enough time to save save save [or sell my car]! Helgate London you are gonna blow the other FPS/RPG/3rd Person Shoter Hybribs off the face of the EARTH!

sangoanuta
sangoanuta

serious hoping that's gonna be like an improved oblivion.

Ariketh
Ariketh

Hellgate: London is going to be one of the best games ever I think.

silentchain
silentchain

I think I'v just blow my wad over this news as an MMO RPG and FPS fan this news is great for me and I know a lot of my clannies(is that even a word?) will take a good look at this game now. I'v been stoked about this game now for a while and this news is just icing on the cake for me! :)

The_General2000
The_General2000

Looking extremely impressive, I'll definetly look into picking Hellgate up.