BOOM! PYRO SHOT!
The introduction of player versus player (PvP) competition in RPG titles has been a concept with a world of potential since its inception. However, glaring issues such as class imbalances, less than desirable gameplay mechanics, and gear treadmills that leave new players in discord have kept it from being the fruitful archetype that it could be.
Enter Forge, a game built from the ground up for competitive players. Not only does it get rid of the distasteful grind, but it levels the playing field so player skill decides the victor rather than better stats.
Forge introduces endgame PvP from the onset of the experience with five distinct classes to choose from, including the high risk but high reward Assassin, the survival expert Pathfinder, the magical powerhouse Pyromancer, the supportive Shaman, and the heavily armored Warden. Unlike similar titles, you can switch which class you are before and during a game allowing yourself to cater to the current situation. That said, earned rewards such as stat modification, ability focus, and cosmetic armors are class-centric, so honing in on 2-3 classes and working to master them is going to be the best way to start and get ahead.
Gameplay utilizes a fixed camera that replaces the typical cursor with a crosshair in the center of the screen. As such, the game introduces several qualities that we typically only see in shooters; aim is extremely important and more than half the skills require you to have an enemy dialed-in when using attacks or the ability will miss entirely. You can also block an attack every 10 seconds so learning which abilities are more impactful than others is going to be priceless in competitive skirmishes.
Three maps in Forge are already playable although more are planned to be introduced post-release. The map layouts favor team battles on major chokepoints and player flow toward objective areas. Cosmetically speaking, the maps are rich and varied. The foliage-dense environment of Forest Ambush is an absolutely stunning place to battle enemies, and Ymil’s Throne’s Aztec-flavored design brings a tribal atmosphere along with it.
The game’s presentation is dark and detailed, powered by the latest build of Unreal Engine 3. Character models, animations, and environmental textures would lead you to believe that this is a full-priced game, but that isn’t so. Instead, Dark Vale Games plans to introduce the game at an indie price, and a pre-order is already available for a thoughtful $20.
Leaving aside the notion that the game’s still in beta, there are a few concerning elements. It’s challenging to tell when skills hit due to the subtle visual feedback and dry audio effects. Also, skill cast failure goes unnoted leaving you wondering why an ability didn’t execute. More understandably, several features such as guilds and companions aren’t in the game, yet. It’s safe to say the game will be polished up for release, but for now it has some room for improvement before its big day.
Forge is already Steam Greenlight-approved and will be ready for digital download once the game is published later this year. That means some time in the next 70 days a new PvP RPG will be on the market. Thank goodness.