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Nothing like accidentally blowing up your buddy with magic to help your friendship.
Gauntlet isn't a hard sell, with the love for the action franchise extending back to 1998's Gauntlet Legends, all the way to the coin-op 1985 original that pioneered the use of different classes in a local multiplayer game. Arrowhead's contemporary remake, exclusive to the PC, uses that 1985 game as its guiding light, following some early experimentation. Axel Lindberg, the game's director said what the game is should be immediately clear from just a screenshot .
When Arrowhead got the opportunity to make a game from Warner Bros. existing licenses, the developers jumped at the chance to make a Gauntlet game. Lindberg said they tried a number of different prototypes, including an isometric top-down look. However, this got in the way of the design working properly and having the right feel, so they went back to an overhead view.
Not that the game is without upgrades. While each class plays differently on a base level, they all also have major attacks with their own mechanic. For instance, the Elf has a sniper shot, the Warrior spins wildly while going berserk, and the Wizard can chain together different spell effects to create powerful combo attacks. In all cases, however, the special attacks can damage other players.
At one point, Lindberg told me they turned off friendly fire, but found that it just wasn't Gauntlet enough. "Griefing is a really important part of what made Gauntlet," Lindberg tells me, as a Wizard's fireball blows up the Valkyrie for what seems like the tenth time in a row. The Wizard is the primary griefing class, with spells a little harder to control compared to other special attacks (so watch out if your friend seems to enjoy that class).
Along the way there is plenty of finding treasure, keys to open doors, and life-restoring food that should not be shot accidentally. The game's floors are broken up into different types. Adventure floors are built in a traditional style and broken up with boss fights, which Lindberg tells me are "always a pain in the ass for us," but are important for breaking up the pacing of the game. Other floors include procedurally generated "Labyrinth Floors" where the goal is to escape from a floor with continuously spawning enemies.
Lindberg says that in this new edition of Gauntlet, the challenge is to create a game as compelling as the 1985 version without the quarter-popping model. Still in pre-Alpha, he tells me the challenge as they approach that benchmark will be balancing the game and classes. The Wizard, for instance, only had three spells when I played, but eventually will have nine that will have to be picked at the right time for the right challenge.
Gauntlet is expected to release later this year on Steam with full support for SteamOS for Steam Machines.