Epic hasn't really revealed any information on Unreal Tournament 2007 that we didn't already cover in our exclusive preview last week, but the difference between our first look at the game and what Epic and Midway are showing off at E3 is that this time around, we've actually seen a bit of gameplay.
The segment of gameplay we were shown was of the mode that's currently being called conquest. It's a combination of the onslaught game type that appeared in UT2004 and the classic assault mode. The basic goal is to overrun the other team's facilities, but there are many objectives to complete along the way, as well as resources to be guarded. Many of the objectives take the form of optional assault-style missions that will benefit your team in some way, usually by securing some additional resources that will let you spawn further into the fight or by making vehicles spawn more quickly at facilities controlled by your team.
The city map we were shown looked pretty amazing, but what really stood out was just how chatty the bots were. Your artificially intelligent comrades will shout out more specific information about their statuses in UT2007. We heard one bot shout out, "I've got the redeemer," which also serves as a confirmation that the nuclear superweapon will make a return appearance in the upcoming game, along with other UT standards, like the shock rifle (complete with a really nice-looking new shock combo effect), flak cannon, sniper rifle, and rocket launcher. Bots will be better about keeping you informed, not only about the status of the match, but also about their current courses of action. Voice recognition will also be in UT2007, and it will be fleshed out a bit more to make it easier to order your bots around.
Improving the bots ability to give information and take orders is just one part of the improvement plan. The game's AI is getting overhauled and improved as a whole, which should help to make the bots feel more lifelike. This should make the single-player game, which will again be a series of tournament ladders (but probably with a little more of a storyline), play even better than UT2004's. But, of course, the game will still have a pretty strong focus on multiplayer.
Matchmaking is going to be a big part of building the UT2007 community. Finding games in UT2004 was never a problem, but now the game will take the player's skill into account and attempt to match him or her up with players of similar skill levels to ensure that even novice players can have a good time. Clan support will be built right into the game, too, and this will dovetail nicely with the game's statistics, which will let you track a ton of your individual achievements, in addition to ranking clans.
Graphically, Unreal Tournament 2007 looks just about as impressive when being played as it has in all those Unreal Engine 3 demos that have been shown in the past. The environment looks fantastic, and the game's character models and weapon effects really stand out. All of it was running nice and smooth, though (of course) the demo was running on a pretty powerful PC. Though it's going to be aimed at higher-end machines, Unreal Tournament 2007 should still scale down to more-modest machines fairly well. UT2004 even had software rendering support, but there's no guarantee this support will remain in UT2007.
With its new technology, a focus on building out its community, and maintaining all the gameplay modes and options that have worked so well in the past, Unreal Tournament 2007 definitely looks like it's on the right track. The game will appear on the PC in 2006. The company hasn't announced the game for any next-generation consoles at this time, but with Unreal Engine 3 already up and running in various forms on both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 development hardware, it seems possible that the game could eventually make the jump.