In InXile's Hunted: The Demon's Forge, dark days have fallen upon the fantasy realm of Kala Moor. Nightmarish monsters have emerged from underground and are snatching up helpless townsfolk wherever they can. Few dare to confront them, save for two mercenaries--the game's heroes Caddoc and E'lara--who have been hired to put an end to these disturbing events. At Bethesda Softwork's BFG press event, we got the chance to test out both sides of this dynamic duo and revel in all the carnage that comes with being a sword for hire in this third-person action game.
First up in Hunted's fantasy duo was Caddoc, a grumpy, middle-aged brawler who was proficient at beating enemies to a pulp with his sword. When compared to his partner, Caddoc was definitely easier to control. The essence of this balding warrior was to get in close and not stop attacking until the enemy was nothing but a lifeless heap on the ground. Against particularity difficult enemies, such as a minotaur, we could swap out our warrior's sword for a magically charged mace for an extra bit of "oomph." If needed, Caddoc could also fight at range. However, his single-shot crossbow was much slower than the majority of our companion's weapons, so we reserved it for only picking off stragglers.
Second up was E'lara, a scantly clad elven huntress (aren't they all) and the duo's ranged specialist. Unlike Caddoc, E'lara required a lot more patience and precision. When we brought up her bow to fire, there was a yellow circle that got smaller and smaller to reflect our accuracy. If this reticle wasn't centered completely, our character would invariably miss her target time and again--even at point-blank range. We could speed up the rate at which the reticle centered by ducking into cover. However, by the time we had ducked into cover, lined up a shot, and fired, our teammate had already dispatched multiple targets and was moving ahead of us; we just couldn't keep up. E'lara can also fight in melee herself, but with such low heath, we were more often downing health potions than enemies.
Our hands-on time with the game took us through three areas--a jungle, desert, and castle--and each involved killing dozens of enemy troops. The highlight of the first area had to have been when, while playing as Caddoc, we had to cover E'lara on a narrow bridge while she mowed down reams of enemies with a mounted medieval minigun (which shot arrows). In the desert area, our teamwork was tested again when a swarm of enemy archers ambushed us while we were fighting an otherworldly horror. As Caddoc, we kept the main monster in check while E'lara made a lap around the battlefield and dispatched this new threat. Finally, in the castle portion of our demo, we encountered our first (and only) puzzle. Simply put, one of us had to stand on a massive switch that would open a door very slowly. While this was happening, the other player had to defend the person on the switch from an onslaught of attackers so that he or she wouldn't be forced off.
At various points along our path, there were purple crystals where we could swap characters with our co-op partner. Nearby one of these crystals, there was always a station where we could buy new upgrades for our character. Because this was a demo, we were given a healthy number of points to spend right out of the gate. By this point, we were playing as E'lara, so we ended up investing the majority of our points into maxing out her armor-piercing shot and purchasing a shocking lightning spell. Each ability or spell we purchased could be mapped for easy access--in this case to the directional pad on the Xbox 360 controller. The armor-piercing shot was a devastating single-shot attack that could dispatch even the toughest of foes with one hit (provided we didn't miss). The lightning spell was a bit more versatile in its ability to either stun enemies or buff our teammate, depending on how much energy we pumped into it.
As we felled enemies in Hunted, we came across an abundance of gold and weapons. The weapons could be switched out on the fly with our current equipment if we found something we liked, such as a sword that did more damage or a bow that shot faster. With Caddoc, we often had to switch shields because they would become degraded and shatter in our hands. The gold you collect can be spent in the game's dungeon creation mode, titled Crucible. Here, you can link together various areas and modify their combat conditions--such as adding a time limit or tweaking your character's health--or just hit the "randomize" button to jump straight into the action. Whatever your preference, grab a friend and get ready for Hunted: The Demon's Forge on June 1 for the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3.