Arkadian Warriors Hands-On

We hack and slash our way through a preview of this enjoyable XBL arcade game.

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Currently scheduled for release on Xbox Live Arcade later this year, Arkadian Warriors is a hack-and-slash fantasy action game in which you'll assume the role of one of three characters tasked with defeating the mighty Gorgon. The characters in question are a warrior, an archer, and a sorceress, and we had an opportunity to see all three in action during a recent meeting with Sierra Online.

Choose your character, then get to dungeon crawling. Gorgon awaits to crush you.
Choose your character, then get to dungeon crawling. Gorgon awaits to crush you.

If you're familiar with action-oriented role-playing games such as Diablo, you'll feel right at home with Arkadian Warriors. The bulk of your time playing the game will be spent battling your way through monster-filled dungeons either alone or with a friend, and there will be plenty of new weapons and armor pieces to pick up along the way. Weapons and armor for your chosen character can also be purchased in the town that you'll visit between missions, along with health potions and the like.

As you walk around the town, you'll have an opportunity to interact with its inhabitants, a number of whom will have quests to offer you. Arkadian Warriors will feature only 19 different quests for you to complete en route to your battle with the Gorgon, but the fact that the dungeons are randomly generated every time you play promises to offer some replay value. Typically, quests will involve killing a number of a certain type of enemy, killing a larger boss-style enemy, and/or rescuing townsfolk. Enemies that we encountered during our session included boars, a large boar king, snakes, goblins, griffons, and various other fantasy staples.

One of the gameplay features that should distinguish Arkadian Warriors from similar games--not that there are currently any on Xbox Live Arcade--is the ability to transform your character into a powerful "alter ego" form for a short time. You'll accrue a small amount of the energy necessary for the transformation every time you successfully strike an enemy, and when you have enough of it you can trigger the transformation at any moment. The warrior's alter ego is a lion, the archer transforms into a dragon, and the sorceress can turn into a phoenix. Alter ego forms are much larger than the regular characters, and their attacks target all enemies in a given area rather than a specific enemy.

In addition to their basic, class-specific attacks and alter-ego forms, characters in Arkadian Warriors will learn new abilities as they gain experience points and level up. The game's level cap is set to 20 (at least for the moment), and by the time you hit that level you'll have learned around five new abilities. For example, the archer can learn to set traps or to fire multiple arrows simultaneously, whereas the sorceress gains the ability to summon a pet or to charm enemies into assisting her for a time. Interestingly, you'll be able to equip only one of your abilities at a time, so even at level 20 you should find that the game poses something of a challenge.

As a player, you'll be able to have up to three persistent characters--one of each class--saved to your profile. You won't necessarily get to level 20 on your first play-through, and the main incentive to keep playing besides experience points (or achievement points) will be the promise of better equipment. We're told that there will be at least 200 different weapons and armor pieces to collect in Arkadian Warriors when it's released, and we'd be very surprised if the door hasn't been left open for additional items and quests to be made available for download post-release. We look forward to bringing you more information on this game as soon as it becomes available.

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