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Think Call of Duty, but with fewer Russians and more vampires.
Set some time in the fictional past, Nosgoth is a fast-paced multiplayer third-person shooter developed by Psyonix and produced by Square Enix. The primary game mode is a four-on-four deathmatch between two factions: vampires, who have inhuman strength and covet the now absent throne of Nosgoth's Emperor Kain; and humans, who failed to extinguish the vampires many thousands of years ago and only now have the power to smite them once and for all.
Both sides tout three classes, all of them having swappable weaponry, abilities, and passive perks. The human class composition embodies the principle of using the right tool for the right job, whereas the vampires are all-around terrifying. The grunts of the human resistance are Hunters who wield automatic crossbows and heavy bolas that can temporarily put vampires in chains. Deadly accurate at great ranges, the Scout class uses a precision longbow to indulge fans of the FPS sniper class. Alchemists are close range, explosive-launching maniacs who incinerate their adversaries with volatile mixtures of who-knows-what.
Vampires are all similar in that they require being within melee range to assault their opponents. Reavers are the counterparts to the human Hunters and are the foot soldiers of the vampire hordes. Their most horrifying ability is a sneak attack, which slowly charges and upon release sends the Reaver flying through the air, pinning down and tearing apart the first unfortunate human they come into contact with.
But who needs stealth when you can be an unstoppable abomination? Tyrants thrive in the middle of the fray thanks to an active ability that reduces incoming damage. The final class is the epitome of a vampire-phobic's nightmare: Sentinels can soar through the air for a limited amount of time, picking up humans and dropping them from great heights.
Maintenance of balance between the two forces is relatively simple. Human players rely on longer range weaponry and devices, while vampires use stealth, agility, and brute strength to hunt them down. The vampires’ need to get into melee range is offset by their high mobility, whereas humans are less hearty but terrifying at longer ranges and in groups.
Most of the current maps, while somewhat small, provide many angles for vampire players to lunge from walls, as well as ample open areas for vampire players to pick off unsuspecting humans. One imbalance I’ve noticed between the two factions is that given the vampires obvious advantage in terms of mobility and speed, human players tend to stay closely together. This often results in dense grouping in map corners and edges, as the humans put their backs to a wall to defend against their fast and healthy vampire pursuers.
Playing this game for the first time felt somewhat like Left for Dead, like a simple game of cat-and-mouse as a disgusting vampire monster. Hunting humans with lunging, charging, and flying abilities will feel very familiar to those who have played L4D’s multiplayer. The human arsenal consists mostly of ranged weaponry, bows, repeating crossbows, explosive-lobbing hand cannons—the arsenal you’d want in any vampire hunting kit. Even though actually hitting the bastards can prove challenging, nothing quite beats the feeling of sinking a volley of crossbow bolts into the chest of an undead monstrosity.
Given its simple controls, Nosgoth is a good pick-up for anyone craving something fast-paced with little time commitment. It’s a different take but highly entertaining, almost like a cross between the Call of Duty series and L4D. Hopefully available in open beta some time later this year on PC, Nosgoth will be available for Microsoft Windows through digital download. By the time the developer finishes applying criticisms from its small alpha community Square Enix might just be able to put forth a popular deathmatch-centric action title with Nosgoth.