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Sacred Impressions

At E3, Ascaron gave us a look at its upcoming action RPG with six unique playable characters.


German developer Ascaron is working on a new action RPG that might appeal to those eagerly waiting for a new Diablo game. There are a number of unique features that set Sacred apart from other isometric action RPGs that take inspiration from Diablo. Ascaron put a lot of emphasis on making each of the six playable characters very distinct from one another, giving them all specific sets of skills that adapt themselves to a unique play style, as well as separate starting points with storylines to introduce them.

Some of the six playable characters are more conventional than others. The gladiator is a typical muscle-bound fighter, while the wood elf relies mainly on ranged attacks and defensive magic and the dark elf is an assassin trained in martial arts. But the other three are fairly original: the seraphim is a mystical angel, the battlemage is a very cool-looking hooded figure who's as comfortable with a sword as the six schools of magic open to him, and the vampires is a female knight by day and a wolf-controlling vampire by night.

The day-night cycle is one example of the dynamic nature of Sacred's world, which you can explore freely. Roughly 70 percent of the map is open to exploration from any point in the game--although the tougher areas would be best to avoid at first--and the rest has to be unlocked. The map includes a large number of individual towns, and each town features several subquests. If you complete them all in a particular town, the populace will regard you as a hero. This is just a portion of the game's expansive content, which includes more than 200 missions and a central quest that involves dealing with a demonic force that a sorcerer unwittingly let loose in the world.

Sacred will offer some other novel features. One is the ability to create combos, groups of up to four spells, attacks, and abilities that can be unleashed in one devastating series. These combos are completely customizable, but they aren't free--you must pay for the training necessary for each combination. Horseback riding is another unusual feature, and it will even be possible to engage in combat while mounted. The game's visuals feature nicely rendered 2D backgrounds, and the characters are 3D and have motion-captured animations. There are even three zoom levels that you can smoothly scroll between.

The deep single-player quests will be fully playable in the online multiplayer mode. Ascaron plans to put significant effort into balancing and testing the multiplayer component, and there's a beta test scheduled for July. Sacred is due out later this year.

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