E3 has come, and is now all but gone again this year, and while there were certainly a ton of great games shown off throughout the week, the one new title that kept piquing my interest was the latest out of Volition Studios, Agents of Mayhem. It is with that in mind that I officially dub Agents of Mayhem my “Do Want” of E3 2016.
For those who do not know me, I have been covering E3 for several years now and each year I pick one new IP that is being shown off at its first E3 as my absolutely-must-have-day-1-or-bust title from the show. Reviewing everything that we’ve seen this week, this was a tougher decision than in past E3s. The new Mafia, South Park, and Watch Dogs games certainly impressed, hell, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild totally blew me away, but none of these are new IP. Detroit and ReCore continue to look amazing, but those were not new to E3 this year. Keeping it strictly to those rules, it really came down to 3: Steep, Days Gone, and Agents of Mayhem.
All three of these games had their merits. Steep looks like the SSX game we all wanted SSX to become and will be a hell of a lot of fun when it releases in the fall, and I’m curious to see how the playerbase chooses to share its experiences with the world. Days Gone, coming out of one of my all-time favorite studios Bend (makers of the Syphon Filter series and Uncharted: The Golden Abyss), looks to give us a gritty and hectic take on the zombie apocalypse, and knowing the horde is procedural and may or may not appear wherever you go will only add to the intensity.
However, it was Agents of Mayhem above all others that struck the biggest chord with me this year. I typically do not enjoy games that go heavy on the cel-shaded aesthetic but if you look at this like one of your favorite Saturday morning cartoons, it just works.
Built from the ground up for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC, The game is set in the future in Seoul, South Korea to give the universe a bit of a high-tech but semi-realistic feel in a city that currently exists (though not quite as we know it). You take command of a group of amoral super-agents known as Mayhem, and their single solitary goal is do “whatever it takes” to save the world from the super-villain group known as Legion, who are hell bent on taking over the world. Legion has just executed a global simultaneous attack on the world, and Seoul, the most technologically advanced city in this world, is re-building, and Legion is here to take all of that technology.
There will be 12 Super-agents to build your team with, though we’ve currently only been introduced to 4, and the spotlight is clearly on these colorful cast of amoral agents in this game, each is unique and has their own playstyles. The agents are not quite class-based but they are specialized based on their weapon loadout and special or Mayhem moves. The four introduced thus far include two mid-range agents: Fortune, a Sky Pirate who can dual wield pistols and unleash cannonball attacks as well as her “Mayhem” attack of having her drone, G.L.O.R.Y. fly around stun nearby enemies. Hollywood, who is the face of Mayhem, their acting Public Relations director and a former reality star who just loves the spotlight. A short-range agent, Hardtack, the burly and colorful dude who screams “Ahoy motherfuckers!” in the trailer and wields a Shotgun as well as a Teleportation Harpoon and can drop mines with his Mayhem attack. Finally, just introduced at E3, Rama, a long-range archer from India who has plague technology at her disposal and can shoot plague arrows.
For each mission in this open-world third-person action title you’ll want to build the best team available for the job to take back Seoul from Legion at any cost both in the streets, as well as in the underground clearing out “Legion Lairs”. Gameplay is exclusively single-player and a key component is switching characters on the fly (of a team of 3 agents at a time) so that you always have the best agent for the job at hand whether it be dozens of Legion’s Swarm Troopers or a much, much, much larger enemy to dispose. Swapping characters is as simple as hitting the d-pad, and you don’t need to worry about not getting the “right” combination of characters, or a balanced squad together as just throwing your favorite characters out in the field can still lead to success no matter who gets sent out there. Dialog and banter will change between the characters who are sent out as you’ll find some of the agents like and dislike each other to varying degrees.
In addition, each mission earns cash, which can then be spent on various gadgets and upgrades to then go back out and use against Legion. Each agent has unique upgrade paths including specialized Mayhem abilities, passive abilities, and other upgrades. Heading back to Mayhem HQ will bring you interactions with a whole host of characters like the leader of Mayhem, Persephone Brimstone or her 2nd in command Friday, but perhaps one of the most important in a world full of super-agents is Mayhem’s gadgeteer, Gremlin, who will build you all those wonderful toys.
Oh – and did I mention – the game is set in the larger Saints Row universe? While the Saints are (probably) not involved in this game at all (when asked if Johnny Gat would appear, it was responded with a long silence) this is a brand new IP entirely, but all of that Volition humor and over-the-top color you’d expect will make its appearances where it makes sense to fit it in the game. In fact, according to lead writer Jason L. Blair, “…in some ways [Agents of Mayhem] is even bigger and crazier than the Saints Row series…”
With this in mind, there is a bit of familiarity in the overarching goal of taking control of parts of the city away from Legion, and what kinds of weapons to expect. In pure Volition style, there will also be loads of things to do on the map of Seoul, from the main story missions and side-missions, including things like destroying doomsday devices that are made of dark matter and are sucking all the pedestrians and their cars into the abyss. Missions are not the only thing with Saints flavoring, as one example of the weaponry Gremlin can build you is called the “Ped Explosion”. This device attaches itself to pedestrians in the streets and well, explodes their heads to help take down any nearby enemies. What did you expect? They did say “whatever it takes”.
Agent designs are influenced from Marvel, G.I. Joe, and other comics and cartoons the devs wanted to sprinkle in there, with a whole lot of pop culture references thrown in for good measure. In terms of the trademark customization Volition is known for, there will be different skins to unlock over time for each of the agents, but they will always be true to the nature of the character, so you won’t see Hardtack running around in Fortune’s lingerie, for example.
While not shown off during E3, it has been confirmed that vehicles (both specialized for the agents as well as pedestrian cars) will be included, but there will not be any vertically moving vehicles (sorry VTOL fans). This was done as the game already has a good vertical feel on-foot and Volition wanted the player to experience that through the agents themselves.
As more comes out on this game we’ll be sure to keep an eye on it and let you know, but I for one cannot wait to get my hands on the game, whenever it comes out, currently due for release sometime in 2017.