E3 2014: Humans And Vampires Fight To The Undeath In Nosgoth

Free-to-Play multiplayer games are all the rage now with multiple publishers throwing their hats into the arena.  Square Enix has placed its bets on Nosgoth, a third-person shooter/brawler hybrid in which humans do battle with vampires.  It sounds like a Legacy of Kain game, though the developers were quite clear that it has nothing to do with the franchise. Still, fans of that series should keep an eye on Nosgoth.

Nosgoth is an exceptionally inventive game that uses mechanics from shooters and action games to create a dynamic new way to play.  Human characters have access to ranged weapons and play like a typical third-person shooters. Vampires, on the other hand, play more like a beat-em-up with their ability use melee weapons and climb any structure.  Each race has four classes, and each class has numerous different special abilities to choose from.

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It’s Nosgoth’s gameplay that sets it apart from other multiplayer games.  Each class is truly its own character, and serves a specific function. You need all of them to work in tandem to have a chance at winning. For example, the vampire sentinel has the ability to fly and dive-bomb his enemies.  This ability makes him invaluable to the team as he can both ambush the enemy, and scout out their locations from the sky.

The humans and vampires function quite differently from one another, and the game keeps you on your toes by having you switch sides each match.  Humans fire projectiles from heavily modified bows and guns and replenish health and ammo at shrines littered throughout the map.  To win as the humans, players will need to stick together and work as a team. The vampires have some nasty tricks up their sleeves that’ll make short work of anyone who breaks rank.

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Vampires use melee weapons, replenish health by draining it out of their victims, and can climb any surface.  Playing as a vampire requires careful planning, as rushing into battle will result in death.  Players need to play to the strengths of each class, climb around the environments, and set up ambushes.  Getting a vampire team to work in tandem can be incredibly rewarding.

Getting to play as two different sides makes for more variety than your standard online arena.  You’re practically getting two different games, but the controls are designed in such a way that jumping between them feels natural.  No matter which side you’re on you’ll have a blast, and you’ll find yourself wanting to try every class on both sides.

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After my play session I was able to sit down with a developer from Psyonix to learn more about the game.  Nosgoth will be strictly multiplayer.  The developer wants to players to hit the ground running and won’t bog them down with a story, but snippets of lore will be released on the game’s website.  Psyonix also confirmed Nosgoth is a PC exclusive for now.  Console versions might happen down the line if the game is successful and Square Enix expresses interest in porting to other platforms.

We also got into a discussion about micro-transactions and how Nosgoth will make money.  Right now the game is on Steam Early Access starting at $20 (just $10 for the duration of the summer sale), which gives you access to the open beta and in-game currency equivalent to your purchase price.  Players can also choose to donate and help fund development.  Micro-transactions in game mostly involve different items that can be crafted, which you can in-game with a bit of patience.  Psyonix made it clear to me that they will never charge players to play, and will never adopt a pay-to-win model.

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Psyonix managed to surprise me with their polished demo.  What the developer is doing with Nosgoth is something that AAA developers haven’t done in a while; trying something new.  Nosgoth may not have the lavish presentation or breadth of modes you’d see in a AAA game, but its unique and inventive gameplay is definitely worth a look.  If you have the time, give it a try on Steam Early Access.