Bethesda had a light portfolio at E3 2014 with only The Evil Within and a new IP called Battlecry being shown off on the show floor. The survival horror title had the focus of many gamers at Bethesda’s booth, but Battlecry also managed to attract the crowds thanks to its motif of brutality colliding with beauty, and its fast frenetic 32-player multiplayer gameplay. The game is from Battlecry studios, and it definitely pays off on the whole beauty and brutality tagline that they’ve used to market it.
Battlecry is a unique multiplayer experience thanks to the fact that it takes place in a world where gunpowder has been outlawed, and where nations use Warzones and elite squads of fighters to settle their differences in mini-battles rather than going to war. Today’s multiplayer landscape is predominately loaded with gun-based shooters, so Battlecry’s focus on melee combat and ranged combat with arrow-based weapons is rather refreshing.
Matches will feature 32 players in total, and will be between two opposing factions. In the demo the factions were the Royal Marines and the Cossacks, but the developer assured that there will be more. Within these factions players can choose from six different classes that range from pure brawlers to more precise duelist or archers. Each class will have battle tendencies that lie in ranged or close quarter combat, so players will be able to choose characters that suit their desired style of play.
The game’s visuals follow an animated style that are more in line with a Team Fortress than a Call of Duty, and they’re rather lovely to take in. It’s clear to see the “beauty” aspect of Battlecry thanks to the vibrant palette of colors that flesh out the maps, and the stylized look of the warriors. The game looked fantastic for a pre-alpha build, so I had no concerns whatsoever with its visual design and frame rate.
The gameplay itself is extremely fast and nimble feeling thanks to the ability of the warriors to jump dodge far distances and use grappling hooks for long traversals. I played as a Brawler so I got to experience the more up close and personal side of Battlecry and I have to say that I loved it. These days I don’t have the twitchy skills required to be a proficient FPS combatant, so it was great to be able to chase people around with a massive blade and hack them to pieces. The hacking to pieces aspect definitely feeds into Battlecry’s “brutality”, but it’s not over-the-top by any means. The gore is very stylized and tasteful, and it definitely features an animated look over a gritty display of blood and body parts.
In addition to standard attacks each character also has three special attacks that can be unlocked as the character progresses. These attacks have a cool down period, so they must be used sparingly, which adds to the strategic nature of Battlecry’s gameplay. As you fight and earn kills and hits on enemies you slowly build up adrenaline, which can be used for temporary power boosts, or if you want to save your adrenaline you can eventually use it for a super boost that makes you invincible for a short amount of time, so tactics once again come into play in Battlecry.
Battlecry’s Battlecry was easily one of the more fun experiences I encountered at E3 2014. The absence of traditional guns and firepower is refreshing, which fits well with the game’s beautiful visuals and environments. The 32-player multiplayer gameplay is tight and strategic, and it definitely feels fresh because it’s not all about guns and blowing stuff to pieces. The focus on melee combat offers non-shooter fans a chance to get in on some multiplayer action that they can actually compete in, as well as opening up different styles of play that don’t involve camping.
A beta will launch in 2015, but a firm release window hasn’t even been revealed yet for it, or the final game. Battlecry is PC only at this time, and it will employ the free-to-play model. If you’ve been looking for a change of pace in your multiplayer diet, then Battlecry is definitely a new IP worth looking into. Stay tuned for additional details as they’re released over the coming months.
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