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5 Things We Learned About Deathloop's Weird Take On Multiplayer And Time Travel

Here's everything you need to know about what we saw from Deathloop during a recent preview.

Explaining the concept of Arkane Studios' Deathloop simply as "two assassins stuck in a time loop" manages to answer and pose a ton of questions simultaneously. Have no fear because we got to see Deathloop in action during a recent preview, and we now have a clearer picture of what this time-bending thriller with dueling assassins is all about. Here's everything you need to know about Arkane's latest.

How The Time Loop Works

The two assassins in Deathloop are Colt and Juliana. You primarily play as Colt, who is trapped on a mysterious island named Blackreef and tasked with killing eight targets to break an unending time loop that he's trapped in. In Deathloop's online mode, however, you play as the other assassin Juliana to invade another player's game and eliminate them all to keep the loop going. If you fear your chances against a real opponent, you can opt for Juliana to be AI-controlled.

Essentially, Colt and Juliana being in this cat and mouse chase is the core of the game, but there's a lot more history to their relationship than Colt can remember, and that unfurls throughout the game. It's reminiscent of Hades: a roguelike that would tell its story on repeated loops. While they are at odds with one another, both Cole and Juliana will have occasional conversations between them, which will evolve as both are aware of the time loop, unlike the other inhabitants of Blackreef. Juliana will radio Colt to comment on a kill he might have just made, or if you run away from a fight, she will radio you to call you a coward.

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This time loop spans across an in-game day on Blackreef, but if you're worrying that you'll be rushing against a timer to get everything done, then don't fret; you can tackle everything at your own pace. Death also doesn't even mean the end of a loop: one of the powers we saw in action gave you three "redos" per loop, so if you died, you could return to the encounter, find and collect things from your body, and try again. If you die a third time, though, that loop is finished. You also won't be starting entirely from scratch each time you start a new loop.

One of the recurring resources you can collect is called Residium, which lets you hang onto your powers and weapons across loops. So not only will you restart with an arsenal with the aid of Residium, you'll also have more of Deathloop's most crucial resource: knowledge.

Blackreef is Split Into Four Districts, And You'll Visit Them Frequently

The game takes place on a mysterious island called Blackreef, inhabited by your eight targets and a band of cult-like followers called Eternalists. The island is split into four districts, and each can be visited one of four times during the day, changing significantly throughout the course of said day. You might be able to unlock a shortcut only at night, or maybe a Visionary will pass through, but only at a specific time.

According to game director Dinga Bakaba, the game starts with a broad look at each of Blackreef's four districts, then moves you into each one respectively. Once you've visited all four districts, you can then freely choose which one you visit upon subsequent time loop runs. Once you decide to leave, time moves on when you get to the next. If you go to a specific district at a particular time to do a puzzle or follow a certain subquest and fail, you can leap right back into that area and time period to try again. In a way, you are making lots of mini loops within the larger one. By visiting these locations repeatedly, you not only get the lay of the land and obtain key items like keys and door codes, but can build a plan to take out your targets as efficiently as possible.

Like all of Arkane's games, the setting and the world tell a lot of the story. The island of Blackreef is an alternate reality, loosely based on a 1960s aesthetic. Art Director Sebastien Mitton said that they settled on that era because of the carefree nature people had at the time: despite the anxieties of the Cold War, people wanted to party forever, and so that filtered throughout the game, informing the gadgets and weapons, as well as music. The Visionaries who live on the island in particular--who you are tasked with eliminating--are a group of artists and scientists who wish to live forever.

Intriguing Mission Structures Are Promising

You'll have to uncover the identity of one of your targets in a mission that's highly reminiscent of Dishonored's Lady Boyle's Last Party.
You'll have to uncover the identity of one of your targets in a mission that's highly reminiscent of Dishonored's Lady Boyle's Last Party.

We saw one Deathloop mission that deeply echoed one of Dishonored's mid-game scenarios, Lady Boyle's Last Party--an excellent mission that tasked you with killing Lady Boyle at her masked ball, but the problem was everyone is wearing masks, and her sisters are there too.

Deathloop seems to feature its own take on this form of on-the-fly problem-solving. One of the Visionaries is called Aleksis, who you've seen in trailers wearing a wolf mask. Like Dishonored's Lady Boyle, you need to uncover Aleksis's identity before you can attempt to take him out. Of course, not every Visionary encounter will be like that, but they will move across the map in similar ways, forcing you to get creative with the way you take them out.

Numerous Powers To Help You Eliminate Enemies

And gosh, are there plenty of ways to take them out. There are obviously many types of guns to use in Deathloop because, well, you're an assassin. Interestingly, there's no money in Deathloop: ammo machines distribute bullets freely because, if you're at a neverending party utopia, why would you need money? If, like us, you loved the powers from Dishonored, then you'll have lots to experiment with here.

Some powers look familiar to Dishonored. Shift is reminiscent of Blink or Far Reach, Karnesis is similar to Windblast, and Nexus works just like Domino from Dishonored 2. We mentioned Reprise earlier, which gives you extra redos, but there's also Aether which makes you invisible. All the powers use Mana, but you can use Trinkets to increase your maximum. Trinkets are slottable items that can also give you little perks like dealing more damage or a double jump.

It's interesting to note that when you kill an enemy, whether by power, gun, or kicking them off a ledge, their body doesn't lie around, just waiting to give you away--it disintegrates. So while we're not sure just yet if there's going to be an incentive to do a "clean hands" or "ghost" run like in Dishonored, we wouldn't be surprised if that playstyle ends up being accommodated too, given Arkane's signature design philosophy across their legacy of games.

Multiplayer Is A Part Of The Single-Player Campaign

When it comes to Deathloop's multiplayer, it's weaved into the campaign. Arkane's approach to designing it is that they want to incentivize creative play, and hopefully, the mode will be seen as something of an "anecdote generator," according to Bakaba.

Arkane is hopeful that Deathloop will be something of an
Arkane is hopeful that Deathloop will be something of an "anecdote generator."

As Juliana, you can invade the games of random players or your friends, and the game gives you a list of feats to accomplish: doing so gives you points, which you can use to unlock new powers, trinkets, or weapons. They unlock randomly, so you'll get different loadouts every time you play.

By playing the multiplayer component, you can unlock new appearances for Colt and Juliana. One of the big incentives is the costumes you'll unlock, but Arkane devs seem genuinely excited to see the clips and hear the stories of how players interact online.

Overall, Deathloop is some parts a natural evolution of past Arkane games and something else altogether. It's a PS5 console exclusive for a while that's also coming to PC, and we'll continue to cover it in the months ahead of its September 14 launch. In the meantime, be sure to read our in-depth Deathloop preview for more details about the game from our time chatting to the developers.

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Lucy James

Lucy has been working for GameSpot for the better part of a decade as a Host and Senior Producer. Her favorite games include Red Dead Redemption, the Mass Effect trilogy, and Okami. Ask her about the Lord of the Rings at your own risk.

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