Mage Knight Apocalypse Exclusive Impressions--Character Creation and the First Multiplayer Details
We get some of the first details about the multiplayer game, as well as an updated look at this fast-paced action RPG.
Mage Knight Apocalypse is the upcoming action role-playing game from Namco Bandai Games America and is significant for a couple of reasons. First, it will represent Namco Bandai Games America's first PC game once it is released this summer. And second, it will try to turn the Mage Knight miniatures game into a viable PC-gaming franchise. It's a fast-paced, good-looking game, and we recently got a chance to take an updated look at Mage Knight and get the first details regarding its multiplayer.
According to Namco Bandai senior producer David Georgeson, the Mage Knight universe has a lot of appeal to it because "it's an approachable fantasy world, but it has a lot of unique, different weirdness to it." In other words, you'll see elves, dwarves, orcs, and other fantasy archetypes, but at the same time, there's also gunpowder, steam technology, and other things that you don't regularly see in fantasy settings. Also, the game benefits from the rich history of the Mage Knight world. It's not so much a battle between good and evil as it is a battle between separate nations, each of which has its own point of view.
The game starts out with you picking a character, based on one of five options. There's a stout dwarf, a graceful elf, a sleek vampire, a female barbarian, and a human/dragon hybrid, and each of these characters has his or her own backstory, which will play a role in the game. You can customize your appearance (picking from different hairstyles and colors, and such) and choose your own name, but each character has their own history that you'll discover throughout the game. Though you start out on your own, the characters that you didn't select will eventually join your party throughout the course of the game, and while you'll only control your specific character directly, you'll be able to issue limited commands to your party members. The idea behind this feature is to not make the game too complicated, so you won't have to worry about micromanaging each character or their personal inventories.
Of course, much of the game revolves around combat, and depending on your character type and playing style, as well as the skills and weapons that you equip, you can go about wiping out your enemies in countless ways. The barbarian is, naturally, a perfect frontline warrior, while the vampire is more of a stealthy scout that can sneak up on someone. The human/dragon hybrid is a powerful wizard, while the dwarf likes to play with explosives and gunpowder. The skill system is quite deep, and each character has three available skill trees to explore. You can max out one of the trees to unlock some powerful skills or spread your skills out among all three skill trees. If you spread your skills out, you won't have the uberskills, but you will have a good variety of powers. For example, the vampire has access to the necro (death) tree, which lets her raise the dead. She also has access to the physical tree, which she can use to improve her weapons skills, such as dual wielding. Finally, there's the vampiric tree, which gives her abilities such as charming an enemy to fight for her.
You'll battle in six different lands in upward of 30 or so missions, most of which can be replayed with different objectives. We saw a temple in the jungle and battled hordes of imposing orcs. The sense of scale in the game is impressive, as you'll encounter all sorts of beasties that easily dwarf your character. In fact, the end boss is a dragon so large that you're reportedly the size of one of its toes. It's so big that the designers are still trying to figure out how exactly you'll fight it. The single-player campaign is supposed to have between 25 to 30 hours of gameplay, but the game has three difficulty settings, which dynamically ramp up the gameplay based on your character's strength.
We also have some of the first details regarding multiplayer. Namco Bandai is focusing on cooperative multiplayer this time around, which means that you'll be able to play the entire campaign with up to four other people. The game dynamically balances itself to raise the difficulty based on the number of people in each group, as well as their combined abilities. In addition to the regular campaign, there will be all sorts of other modes, such as a last-stand-battle mode where you and your friends have to hold out against incredible odds. Fans of player-versus-player combat may be disappointed that you won't be able to battle other players, but we're told that if the game does well, look for PVP to be included in future products. And given the collectible nature of the miniatures game, it's a no-brainer that there are tons of potential expansions for the PC game.
Mage Knight looks good, and there's some great character modeling in the game for both your characters and the monsters. Some of the environments we saw still had placeholder art in them, but there was a good sense of immersion, especially when the camera lowered closer to the ground, bringing the action up close. There will be plenty of destructible objects in the game (we saw wooden barricades being torn apart), as well as lots of lighting and spell effects. Mage Knight looks like a promising debut from Namco Bandai Games America, and the game has quietly progressed over the past year. Things are looking good in terms of the schedule, too, so Mage Knight Apocalypse is on track to ship sometime this summer.
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