For those of you who have been stating your disapproval for the lack of split-screen multiplayer, guess what? Hunted: The Demon's Forge will have split-screen multiplayer. The entire game is designed around cooperative play with a friend or AI counterpart, so the addition of split-screen is a welcome one. We didn't actually get to play split-screen, however (we just saw it on the menu); but during our recent meeting with Bethesda, we were able to spend some time playing through the tutorial and partnered up with a developer from InXile for some dungeon-crawling action.
Described as a cover-based hack-and-slash or third-person shooter--depending on who you're playing as--Hunted is an action adventure that encourages cooperative exploration with lots of combat included. The story follows a pair of mercenaries: the more serious, mace-wielding Caddoc; and the sassy, silver-haired elf, E'lara. The tutorial felt familiar, especially because it was essentially the demo we've seen from last year. Although, it did give us a chance to play as either Caddoc or E'lara to see which one we preferred. Depending on your play style, Caddoc is your traditional brute that can get up close and melee. He's got a shield and a big club or axe, so you're pretty much set as long as you keep mashing those buttons. E'lara requires a bit more finesse to play as because her melee weapons are not as strong as Caddoc's weapons so she relies heavily on her bow. As E'lara, it will feel more like a third-person shooter, with limited ammo and everything. There are pick-ups and weapons along the way, but knowing that you can't just randomly fire one arrow after another will force you to come up with some kind of tactic. We preferred playing as Caddoc, mainly because he can take a beating when swarmed by enemies, whereas E'lara needed a more careful approach.
The cooperative play in the game has been described as "co-op at a distance," meaning that you don't necessarily have to be right next to the other person at all times. If you ever find yourself lost, you can push down on the left stick to bring up a blue light that will point you in the right direction. Depending on the situation, sometimes Caddoc is going to have to take the brunt of the assault, especially against heavily armed undead creatures that would make short work of E'lara. When one person goes down, the other has a chance to revive him or her. You can't carry multiple healing items, so you'll have to keep an eye out for potions and your health. There's no inventory to manage either, so when you come across something nice, take it and move forward.
It takes teamwork to solve the puzzles that you'll encounter, and the ones that we came across basically involved lighting every brazier and exploring all the dark corners. We should probably give E'lara more of a chance, as Caddoc's hack-and-slash routine can get repetitive. Luckily, there are checkpoints throughout the game where you can swap roles. Hunted: The Demon's Forge looks to be a solid cooperative experience if you've been itching to do some dungeon-crawling with a partner. For more information on the game, feel free to check out our previous previews here. We're looking forward to more fantasy action when the game ships on June 1.