The Haunted: Hell's Reach Q&A - Exclusive First Details

The Haunted: Hell's Reach will be a third-person action game that pits you against the forces of hell. Get the first details here.

The Haunted: Hell's Reach is a third-person action game that pits a team of human demon hunters against the legions of hell itself. This new action game is being developed by the most recent winners of Epic's Make Something Unreal contest--a homegrown project that will be brought to market as a full-fledged cooperative multiplayer game by publisher THQ for the PC, Xbox Live Arcade, and PlayStation Network. Game director Michael Hegemann and creative director Gerhard Weihrauch explain.

GameSpot: Give us an overview of The Haunted. What was the inspiration for making this game?

Michael Hegemann: The Haunted: Hell's Reach is a fast-paced third-person shooter/brawler that knows no compromise. All hell has broken loose, and the forces of evil are rising up. As one of four badass demon hunters, you make a stand against the hellspawn with a huge arsenal of deadly weapons and melee combat [skills] to send the minions back to where they belong. The game can be played alone or together with your friends in various multiplayer modes.

The Haunted: Hell's Reach will be a third-person game where humans are at war with the forces of hell.

Quite a few people said it looks influenced by the Dark Tower universe, especially the first book. And it is. That style is so perfectly described--it's so distinct and memorable that it sticks with you.

The scenario is also heavily influenced by horror and action films as well as TV shows that most gamers of our generation watched as kids. It's like Evil Dead meets The A-Team. There is a trash/grindhouse vibe to it, and we don't try to be uberserious. It's all about the fun.

Gerhard Weihrauch: In terms of gameplay, the biggest influence was definitely the games created by action mastermind Shinji Mikami of Platinum Games. He's one of my favorite developers!

Resident Evil 4, God Hand, and Vanquish (all praised for their fantastic design) served as main sources of inspiration for The Haunted: Hell's Reach. My goal was to combine elements of all those games into something new and interesting that fans of hardcore action games, like me, would enjoy playing.

GS: We understand that The Haunted is a third-person action game about a war between humans and demons. Where and when does the game take place? Who are the primary characters in the conflict?

MH: The game takes place in the near future when a demonic threat rises in haunted places that were once sanctuaries of evil. You play as a demon hunter who has to liberate these places, take them out of "hell's reach," and prevent the demonic apocalypse. The fight takes you all around the world--to ghost towns, high mountain castles, ancient excavation sites, and even to hell, where you face the demon lord Abaddon.

The characters (Bruce, Hector, Jacob, and Caleb) are four demon hunters who once bound their lives to soulstones and fight the purest form of evil in order to redeem themselves for their questionable past lives. They were villains in our world and are now heroes in theirs. Each of them has his own motivation in dealing with the demonic threat, which they express once in a while when killing minions. Jacob has found faith and sees himself as weapon of God; Hector is happy when things blow up; for Bruce, killing is not unlike professional engineering; and Caleb has his wisdom and deeper knowledge of what really goes on. Together they stand as one.

Inspiration comes from over-the-top-style action heroes from the 1980s and newer sources like 300, as well as game characters like Kratos. We try to get as far away from military-type characters as possible, since there are enough obedient soldiers already.

GS: Why go third-person rather than being a first-person shooter? What does this different perspective let you do that a first-person perspective wouldn't?

GW: One of the key advantages of a third-person perspective is that you can see your character and everything around him. This grants players a much better overview of the gameplay situation and lets him judge threats more easily. In first-person shooters, the field of vision is always the limiting factor in terms of information that you can give players about what's going on, unless you add a lot of additional "helpers" in the form of heads-up display elements.

Another important gameplay element in The Haunted: Hell's Reach is our melee system, which includes various attacks and executions. Following up a combat roll with an uppercut or combining a back elbow into a back kick just wouldn't work very well in first-person. At the very least, it would look pretty silly and feel disorienting. Take Mirror's Edge, for example--as awesome as this game was, the first-person melee elements just didn't work very well.

So from a design perspective, a third-person view just lets us do more interesting things with gameplay than a first-person perspective. Also, I think that players connect more with their characters if they can see them.

GS: We understand that The Haunted is going to focus primarily on team-based multiplayer. Will there be any single-player component? If so, could you tell us about it?

The game will let you use conventional firearms, experimental weapons, and bone-crunching melee attacks.

MH: We are a tiny independent team and don't really have the resources or people required to create a full-blown single-player campaign that can compete with actual big-budget productions. Therefore we set the focus on the arcade and multiplayer experience. A lot of games have "horde" and "play as the monster" modes these days, but we aim to be the definitive game that is really focused on these particular game types. We don't need to make any trade-offs since we are not working with a huge intellectual property, so we don't need to as be careful about what we do. We can take risks and try out new things.

GS: Give us an overview of the game's multiplayer modes. What will the game offer that's different from multiplayer team action games that are out there now?

MH: The game will come with four multiplayer modes in the initial release. Inferno is our default co-op mode. Up to four human players have to make a stand against the demons and send as many minions as possible back to hell while redeeming the souls of fallen comrades by destroying their soulstones. This mode offers intense and frantic action that doesn't force players to play cooperatively, but rewards them for working together. There's also a little built-in competition between the human players with regards to who can score the most points and kill the most minions--it's more like the friendly competition between Legolas and Gimli in the Lord of the Rings movies than head-to-head competition, though.

The game will offer four different multiplayer modes.

Survival is a variation of Inferno in which the humans need to survive as long as possible against an ever-growing horde of minions until all humans are dead.

Battle and Demonizer are modes where players can spawn and play as the hellspawn. Battle is a competitive mode that pits up to four humans against up to four demons, while Demonizer puts a little twist on the co-op formula. In Demonizer, each dead human turns into a demon who tries to hunt down the other humans. If you manage to kill one, you respawn as a human. The player that stays human for the longest time wins.

I should mention that hosting and joining multiplayer games is really easy and painless. Quite a few games make it feel like work to get into an online game, and we don't want that. [For the PC version,] you won't need to log into anything else than Steam--a few clicks and you're in the game. We also support dedicated servers.

GS: So you'll play as human characters fighting demon hordes in the game. Will all the weapons you use be conventional firearms? Any unusual or experimental high-tech weaponry, or magic powers?

MH: The humans rely on traditional firearms and close-combat weapons like a chainsaw or the infamous "witchhammer." There are 36 distinct weapons in total that you can acquire through upgrades you get after shedding enough minion blood. Each weapon has a unique feel to it. It's not just a bunch of full-auto weapons with different models. To make the two factions more distinct, only the demons use magical and arcane powers. Everything the humans can do is theoretically possible in the real world. For instance, one of the more unusual weapons is the nitrogen launcher, which can freeze enemies instantly and turns them into ice blocks that players can then smash.

GW: Aside from conventional weapons, the game offers a great variety of melee moves. The system is similar to fighting games, in which different moves have different effects. First, you melee a minion to stun it, and while your target is stunned, you can perform a brutal execution attack that not only kills, but also has the useful property of hurling away all nearby enemies to create space. Every melee attack can be charged up and turned into a more-powerful instant-kill move. However, some monsters become enraged when you melee them too often and will become immune to it. Other monsters are immune to bullets and can only be taken down by melee. This will constantly challenge players to adapt to new situations and guarantee some variety.

GS: We also understand that in some of the game's modes, players will be able to play as demons. How will demon characters differ from human characters?

MH: Playing as a demon is part of the Battle and Demonizer modes. Demons are the spiritual entities, similar to the smoke monster from Lost, while minions are the physical entities. You can also play as a minion in the third-person perspective as well. The minions are more like demonic zombies. They are just much more fun to kill than a bunch of tentacle monsters.

Each of the environments also has a cataclysmic event, such as a meteor shower or a raging thunderstorm, which provides another gameplay-affecting threat. These events can be triggered by demon players to cause even more havoc.

GS: When will the game be released and for what platforms? Any chance of seeing a console release?

MH: The game is scheduled for release on Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network sometime next year. We will keep updating the PC version, and all the improvements and extra content will be in the console releases as well.

GS: Finally, is there anything you'd like to add about the game?

GW: It should be mentioned that we will actively support mods and that we look forward to all the crazy things the community will come up with. If you have ideas or comments, feel free to visit us on our website.

Haunted is coming to the PC, Xbox 360, and PS3.

MH: It's about kicking ass, and not getting your ass kicked. It's like "Resident Gears of Left 4 Evil Dead" turned up to 11! If you're into action games and want an insanely fun third-person shooter without restrictions, clunky movement, and too much military dude-bros, you should check out The Haunted: Hell's Reach!

GS: Thank you.

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Discussion

33 comments
OdinssonThor
OdinssonThor

Looks like something for adult crowd...blood and gore...all you toddlers go play LOTRO or sth...SO YOU DON'T HAVE BAD DREAMS!!!

Hellavation
Hellavation

I love the fact this game reminds me of a Quentin Tarantino movie similiar to From Dusk Till Dawn. And it's four player co-op!

G1-TailsOwn
G1-TailsOwn

this was a great mod for unreal 3. i think u still can get this mod at moddb.com, have fun and its a small community of gamers that still play this game.

RedJoseph
RedJoseph

Seems like Painkiller to me....

evilweav
evilweav

looks sorta interesting, if not very original

travisstaggs
travisstaggs

Didn't even know this existed until today. Will definitely try it out when released.

omarvision
omarvision

looks interesting from the trailer once again... just wonder if it will stand up in actual gameplay mechanics... and it better have alot of diffferent creatures and areas to keep you going through the levels. I'm just becoming wary because so many games are not as good as they seem anymore when they finally come out

Elann2008
Elann2008

I think people should buy Shadows of the Damned instead...

death_by_kungfu
death_by_kungfu

This reminds me of Shadows of the damned, only more brutal. That's a huge + for me.

jhonel83
jhonel83

Another action game across platforms? I have a bad feeling about this, PC gamers are bound to be thrashed again by poor controls, no-brain story telling and awkward camera angles... I wish they would go exclusive for one platform and make a decent game for once

Naktaraht
Naktaraht

How about a soundtrack featuring The Haunted and voice acting starring Peter Dolving? I think it would actually fit. Looks bloody fun.

xsonicchaos
xsonicchaos

dudes, this is an old but great award winning mod to UT3 made by some awesome moders. like The Ball was, that's why it looks this way. i can't believe THQ got serious about it and published it under their seal. not much of a comercial title, but for a downloadable game it should do fine.

1BaguM1
1BaguM1

Is it me or the graphic is like 2007???

chechak7
chechak7

yeaaah baby shOOOOt shooT.....BlooOD...demons

lipehique
lipehique

Gorefeast? You should play the mod first, before you can say anything. Gore, blood and violence are not the point they are trying to make. You cant judge a game based on violence. Resident Evil is violent. Both GOW (gears and god) are violent. Did they stopped being great games? No.

vivalatour
vivalatour

if it were up to me ALL GAMES would be 3RD PERSON ! this looks to be a game to look into , it's $20 new but , then again it could be a fast buck quick release scheem because all the Big name games will not be out for a couple more months yet ? WARNING : this could be bait !

Brakkyn
Brakkyn

The underlying plot of the four character having been "bad people" and are now fighting legions od demons for redemption sounds interesting to me, but I must agree that this does look like a game that will be sold on the amount of blood and guts you can paint walls with.

Frosty192
Frosty192

I loved this mod for Unreal 3. Sadly no one ever played online :/. Well it is nice to know that this is going to be an actual release it was fun as hell.

Fanible
Fanible

My love, and want for all games to start having CO-OP mode as a standard, is the only reason I may keep an eye on this. Although that trailer was just... awful.

Gliave
Gliave

Unoriginal, both the concept and the mechanics.....Stop recycling ya freagin losers....Wot's wrong with u ppl?!?!

darth_sedus
darth_sedus

Senseless , baseless, heinous, just another gore and blood pattern. I'll pass.

monowasp
monowasp

Looks like a gorefest, not interested...

ezjohny
ezjohny

I think "game developers" should put third person perspective in first person shooters for an option, that my opinion!

TheGreyArea
TheGreyArea

quote "It's like Evil Dead meets The A-Team. There is a trash/grindhouse vibe to it and we don't try to be uber-serious. It's all about the fun"... Added to tracked!

fang_proxy
fang_proxy

Stop making multiplayers and mmo's....

calevenice
calevenice

Improved mercenaries mode :D This one has earned a spot on my watch list.