With the constant ups and downs of the videogame market, it seems like many publishers are attempting to diversify themselves. Generally, Perfect World Entertainment works closely with free-to-play MMORPG developers, such as Cryptic Studios, but one of their upcoming titles is a buy-to-play top-down shooter called Livelock.
I’ve been intrigued by Livelock since its announcement trailer in January, 2016, for a few different reasons. First off, it’s interesting to see Perfect World Entertainment step outside its safety bubble, but mostly because I really enjoy twin-stick shooters and action RPGs. So far, the public’s been teased with a character trailers, but there hasn’t been access to the game besides PAX East and now E3.
This was personally my first time getting to play Livelock and during the demonstration level I had the opportunity to speak with members of the Tuque team including lead game developer Kevin Neibert. The premise of Livelock is that it takes place in the 22nd century after the human race has technically been wiped out. In order to save a trace of humanity, the Capital Intellects were created by uploading massive robots with human consciousness. Of course, not everything went as planned and not all of the machines in the future want to play nice. According to the developers, there are three main factions of corrupted machines locked in constant war with each other, and it’s up to the Capital Intellects to stop them.
We’ve already been introduced to the three main Capital Intellects that players will have the choice of controlling: Hex, Vanguard and Catalyst. Each fills a niche role in the group but can also hold their own in just about any situation. Hex fills the role of the fragile, ranged damage dealer, Vanguard is the brawler and Catalyst is the support. For this playthrough, I grabbed Vanguard as I enjoy getting up close and personal with more durable classes. My teammates took Hex and Catalyst to demonstrate their abilities, but on launch players will be able to pick any combination of the characters. This could lead to some interesting teams, such as three tanks or three healers, but taking one of each does lead to a well-balanced squad. Additionally, it was noted that there are no plans to add additional characters beyond these three because the story is specifically centered around them.
One of the first things I noticed during my playthrough was how well-designed and easy to understand the controls are. Livelock is definitely best played with a controller, but it should also be viable with a mouse and keyboard if that’s your preference. During the demonstration, we were using Xbox controllers, which felt great in this type of game. There are the right amout of keys to easily map the three main skills, dodging, and weapon-switching controls.
Currently, the controls are setup so that players move with the left analog stick, aim with the right stick and fire with right trigger. This is all very intuitive and gives a great amount of control over movement and attacking simultaneously. As far as special skills go, dodging was mapped to left bumper, A and B were basic skills, left trigger was the ultimate ability, and Y switched weapons.
Even though there are only three separate characters, each can be played in very different ways. They all have a wide variety of skills and weapons that can be set before each missions. Vanguard, for example, was setup to use melee gauntlets, a close-range shotgun, and a mine launcher, which activated on impact or when enemies came into contact with the mines. His abilities included a front-facing shield, which blocked all projectiles, an area-of-effect blast, and his ultimate created a giant fissure in the ground.
Overall, the gameplay was very satisfying as the game threw wave after wave of varying types of robots at us. The enemies weren’t simply mindless automations that sacrificed themselves to our hail of gunfire, and they appeared to use at least a basic level of strategy. That being said, the demo was clearly setup with an easy enough difficulty so anyone could walk in and clear the mission. I’m sure it also helped that my teammates were part of the design team. Even though it wasn’t exactly what I’d call “challenging,” I still had a fun time with the game and the level boss was a well-designed mechanical monstrosity.
Livelock’s campaign is scheduled to span three campaigns with a total of 24 levels, and there will also be a survival mode with an endless number of enemy waves that are dynamically generated. Furthermore, players can make a team with up to two other players in co-operative mode or take on challenges solo.
The more players that take part in a mission the more difficult the enemies will be, but level disparity won’t be a problem. Technically, there’s no stat progression in Livelock. As players earn levels they will unlock new weapons, skills, and modifications, but a level 1 player and a max level player will still deal the same amount of damage and have equal hit points. I definitely see this as a positive because many co-op games have a problem where one friend will out level the other.
This is especially true for action RPGs where gear plays a big role, and this makes it incredibly difficult for an under-leveled character to catch up. Livelock bypasses this by taking equipment out of the equation. Neibert said that they wanted to create an experience where the action never stops and having to pick up loot and try on new gear only slows down the momentum. That’s why all weapon and skill adjustment takes place before a mission begins and can’t be modified until it’s finished.
Currently, Livelock is scheduled to release later this year, an exact date is expected to be announced soon, for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. We are eagerly awaiting the game’s final release in order to get our hands on some co-operative, robot smashing destruction.
Let us know your thoughts on Livelock in the comments below and stay tuned for more E3 2016 coverage.Related: Action RPG, E3, E3 2016, Livelock, Perfect World Entertainment, Shooter, Tuque Games