E3 2014: Hunt: Horrors of the Gilded Age Includes Horrors, Hunting

There's more than one order in the late 1800s.

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Sometimes, people say that you should be the change you wish to see in the world. Hunt: Horrors of the Gilded Age aims to let you do just that, if, by "change," you mean "late 19th-century hunter of evil abominations." I was told that in this four-player cooperative third-person action game, if you have an archetype in mind that wouldn't seem out of place doing some old-timey monster hunting, you can play as that archetype. You can create a Sherlock Holmes type, or a sophisticated American city slicker, or a witch hunter from Eastern Europe; you have control over the clothing your character wears, the weapons he or she wields, and the abilities at his or her disposal.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to see the character creation system in action today. Instead, I saw a gameplay video in which a team of four players fought the minions of a witch in a Louisiana bayou before taking on the spectral sorceress herself. Team members wielded pistols, shotguns, crossbows, and flamethrowers, though even the flamethrower looked like something an inventive soul might have rigged together in the late 1800s. The weapons lent a deliberate pace to the combat; pistols need to be reloaded one bullet at a time, for instance, so you should be a bit more judicious in your attacks here than in shooters where you can shower your enemies in automatic weapon fire.

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There's a reason the game is called Hunt: you'll actually need to hunt your targets, be they werewolves or demons or witches or some other sort of foul abomination that must be eradicated. The terrain in an area is procedurally generated, and when you enter, you won't know where the boss is, but by completing missions in the area (which are also different every time), you can gather information that sets you on the trail of your quarry. The video I witnessed didn't demonstrate this aspect of the game, which is unfortunate, because the prospect of actually having to hunt down the game's many boss enemies sounds really interesting.

You can play solo, but the game is designed to emphasize cooperation, and in Left 4 Dead style, if a hero falls in battle, he can later be rescued and returned to the fight by other players. Surviving players might happen upon their fallen comrade in a wooden coffin, or tied to a chair, or hanging upside down from a tether. The boss battle I saw had players working together in a slightly different way from a typical boss fight. The witch dragged one hero into a shadow realm, at which point only that hero could see her. Only when that hero dealt damage to the boss did she become temporarily visible to other players, letting them fire upon her as well.

The hunting aspect of the game sounds intriguing, as does the opportunity to design your own type of late-19th-century monster hunter. A closed beta for the game is launching this fall, and the game will eventually be released on the PC and unspecified next-gen consoles.

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