E3 06: Huxley Impressions

Producer Kijong Kang walks us through Huxley, the online first-person shooter and role-playing game that allows up to 200 players to gun it out in each battle.


Huxley: The Dystopia

LOS ANGELES--There's a lot of interest in Huxley, and that's understandable. This online role-playing game and first-person shooter is from South Korea's Webzen, and its next-generation visuals have been impressing gamers around the world. It's due out for the PC and Xbox 360 in 2007, and we met with Kijong Kang, the producer of the Huxley Studio at Webzen, to learn more about this intriguing game.

Let's get this out of the way. Huxley looks amazing. Kang created a human character for us and zoomed the camera in so we could admire the pores in the skin. The game looks incredible thanks to the Unreal Engine 3 technology. Huxley is easily on par with Unreal Tournament 2007 and other Unreal Engine 3 games. The main difference is the scale. You'll have firefights with up to 200 people in Huxley, and this won't be standard run-and-gun deathmatch. Kang tells us that the battle zones in the game will feature objectives. For instance, your faction may be tasked with capturing and controlling four radar stations in a city, and that means breaking up in teams and working together to seize each station and defend it from counterattack.

Huxley can support 200 players in a battle because while the visuals are handled by Unreal Engine 3, the networking backbone and servers are all based on Webzen's proprietary technology, and the company is one of the biggest players in South Korea's massive online gaming industry.

Kang showed us around Nostalomia, the city in Huxley. We saw a residential area that has room for 5,000 players, and told that you'll be able to purchase your own housing in the game. The online role-playing aspects really kicked in at this point, as you can walk around the city and buy and sell stuff with venders. And unlike in other role-playing games where talking to a vendor is handled by text boxes, Huxley switched to a face-to-face conversation with the vendor, and he looked as good as everything else in the game.

There will be a level 50 level cap in Huxley, and the goal, of course, is to accumulate experience and level up. The three classes are the enforcer, which is a close-range combat class, the avenger, which is the midrange combat class, and the phantom, which is the sniper class. You'll be able to buy lots of weapons, and there are three armor types: light, medium, and heavy. Armor has sockets in them, and you can insert socket skills, such as cloaking ability, into them.

The big question is, how do you avoid the problem of a level 50 player absolutely destroying a level 1 newcomer? Kang had an answer. Basically, the idea is that the levels are divided by class. The first 10 levels are the basic class, while the highest 10 levels (41-50) are the elite class. Level 50 characters will have more socket skills at their disposal, as well as more weapons and armor, and they'll usually battle other players that fall into their class. Meanwhile, lower-ranked players will battle in their class, so the disparity isn't so great.

Huxley really looks like it takes the fast-paced, twitch-based combat of Unreal Tournament and applies it on a massive scale, as well as adding online role-playing elements and persistence. What's really cool is that PC and Xbox 360 players will be able to interact on the same servers, though it also sounds like the Xbox 360 players will have separate battle zones--otherwise, PC players might eat them for lunch, given their superior mouse and keyboard controls. We should note that a lot of these details are subject to change, as the game still has a ways to go. We're told it'll launch sometime in 2007.

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