Dennis Rubinshteyn
E3 2011: Rusty Hearts Hands-On Impressions
We catch up with Perfect World and get some time with their latest title.
06.13.11 - 1:49 PM

During E3, editor Derek Heemsbergen and I were invited to sit down with Perfect World, where we took a look at three games they were showcasing. Standing out from the pack is a cel-shaded, anime-style, online dungeon crawler called Rusty Hearts. Though it is a free to play PC game like so many others available, it looks and plays like a console action RPG, and we got some hands-on time with it.

In Rusty Hearts, players cannot create their own character. Instead, they are given a choice between three preset characters, each with their own natural strangths and weaknesses. The reason for this approach is because the developers want to implement a more story-driven online game, and wouldn't work as well with a custom character. It's a strange setup for an online game, but to avoid players all looking the same, there is a lot of customization incoporated.

Customization comes in two flavors: functional and visual. Functional customization is equipment based, and will change the abilities a character will have at his or her disposal. Visual customization is a purely aesthetic one where players can decorate their character in all sorts of ways. The development team said there are hundreds of costume pieces to get in each category, some with theme sets such as animal, pirate, and others. Individual pieces of a set can be equipped to mix and match looks.

Parties can be formed with up to four players, and the party can enter dungeons through portals. Dungeons are split into sections with each section having an enemy level range, and from here players can choose from four difficulties. The dungeon crawling consists of venturing from room to room fighting hordes of enemies standing in the player's way - the player can't progress unless all enemies are cleared out. At the end of a section, a boss appears, and beating it allows the player to gain access to further parts of the dungeon. The player also gets ranked based on their performance, and gains EXP rewards depending on this ranking.

Rusty Hearts also sports an interesting and unique loot system. When a player finds a piece of uncommon or rare equipment, a slot machine pops up, and randomly selects the player that will get it. Also, when clearing a section of a dungeon, a loot deck is shown where players can pick from a deck of cards for an additional reward. By default, the rewards are a random amount of gold, but if players collect bronze, silver and/or gold cards from the dungeon, unique equipment is also mixed into the deck. Players can only choose one card, and have one retry.

A closed beta of Rusty Hearts will be available next month, and the game is scheduled for a full release this September. Feel free to visit their website for more information.