E3 2014: First Look
Dave Yeager Dave Yeager

PC, Xbox One, PS4



Action RPG


US 2015

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Lovely spot for a picnic.
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Buy something or get out, this isn't a library.
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Another nature walk gone horribly wrong.
"Hellraid clearly borrows a lot of standard fantasy and RPG elements from a variety of other games."

"Open world" and "next year" have been the buzz words of E3 2014. TechLand, makers of Dying Light, are looking to buck that trend with Hellraid, a so-called "first person hack and slash game" that they are hoping will hit Early Access this fall.

Kyle and I got to sit in on a demo of Hellraid given by Marcin Kruczkiewicz, the producer. "We're trying to implement brutal and immersive combat as the core of this gaming experience," he said. That goal was evident very early in the presentation. The look and feel of Hellraid has an awful lot in common with Elder Scrolls games, but with vastly more emphasis on fluid combat as opposed to exploration. "This is not an open world game," Kruczkiewicz explained. "We wanted to keep to the formula of mission-based games."

We watched literally dozens of skeletons get blown to smithereens by a standard but delightful array of medieval style weapons including (but not limited to) swords, hammers, shields, and staves that shot lightning, fire, and ice. Mixed in with the skeletons were some goatmen, ghouls, and even an undead creature that pulled off chunks of itself and threw them at you (my personal favorite).

Loot is randomly generated and scales with you, as does enemy difficulty. There are no "classes" per se, but like many other familiar RPGs you can customize your character through skills. "The skill system is like a web," explained Kruczkiewicz. "You can invest all your energy into becoming a warrior, or you can mix it up by adding a little bit of magic."

The game has three distinct modes. The demo we saw was an early portion of the story mode, estimated to take between 6-8 hours of gameplay. However, the team is very focused on the other two modes, mission and arena, to provide enough replayability to make the game worth the purchase price. "Because of the way we scale loot and enemies with you, if you have a map you really like you could play it a thousand times and it will remain a challenge," said Kruczkiewicz.

Hellraid clearly borrows a lot of standard fantasy and RPG elements from a variety of other games: I mentioned the immediate visual similarities to Elder Scrolls, and even the font on the loot looked Diablo-esque. But it looks like Techland is trying to appeal to the possibly underserved first person action RPG player by boiling their game concept down to the essentials of crisp battle. Techland is hoping to make the game available for early access with serious emphasis on getting feedback on the aforementioned mission and arena modes in the Fall of this year.

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