E3 2014: Nosgoth Hands-On Preview


Why can’t humans and vampires just get along? I mean, just because the latter need to feed on the former to survive doesn’t mean they can’t be friends, right?

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Okay, so maybe that’s exactly what it means. At least you can have some fun with it playing Nosgoth, the upcoming free-to-play multiplayer action game set in the Legacy of Kain universe by developer Psyonix and publisher Square Enix. I got a chance to give it a test drive on one of the brand new vampire maps at E3, and it’s certainly got the potential to carve out a niche for itself.

In case there’s any doubt, Nosgoth is not a MOBA. The only similarity it shares with that genre is that it involves two teams of human-controlled characters doing battle. It’s played from a third-person perspective with four players per side, and each player can choose between four different character classes.

Each class has its own unique abilities mapped to different keys, along with a standard attack activated by the right mouse button. Yet there are also broad generalities that can be made about each side: humans are slower, have ranged attacks and use shrines placed around each level to reload ammo and refill health, while vampires have more dynamic movement skills, can only attack from melee range and need to execute (by sucking their blood, essentially) defeated human opponents to heal.

Those differences make it pretty simple to figure out some basic strategies. As a human, you want as many sight lines as possible to be able to inflict damage on approaching foes. Playing a vampire, it’s a must to stay hidden until you can get in close and unleash on your target. As an extra special treat, one of the vampire classes can fly, which truly freaks you out when you’re on the human side and realize you have to scan the skies as well.

A couple of players expressed some dismay about having no melee attacks as a human and basically finding themselves defenseless once vampires got up close and personal. That’s kind of the point, though: Nosgoth encourages teamwork by limiting each side’s options, and if you have a vampire in your grill, you need your teammates to lend a hand by firing on your location.

And I haven’t even mentioned the twist, which is that each match forces you to play several minutes using one faction before you play an equal amount of time with the other one. The team that wins the overall match is the one that performs best overall, so it’s critical to either become good at human and vampire play or master one and at least be passable in the other.

Nosgoth is currently in closed beta, and Square Enix was handing out a bunch of codes at E3. Expect to hear more about this one in the months to come.