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Throat-ripping good time.
Much of our vampire-facing media likes to focus on how emotionally unbalanced the undead are and how each conflict effects “the human world” but if you ask me, they need to lay off the Mr. Sparkle and get back to sucking blood. I’m emotionally unbalanced too and you don’t see me flashing fangs in-between extremely shiny tears. No, I’m too busy sitting at home playing violent video games so it’s nice to see Square Enix and Psyonix take back the night with some truly gruesome third-person combat in Nosgoth.
While many gamers may groan at the words free-to-play, Nosgoth aims to offer really addicting multiplayer that pits two asymmetrical teams against each other, not unlike Left 4 Dead’s versus mode where one team of survivors try to progress through a level and defend themselves with guns while the other team control zombies with significantly different abilities. The same is true in Nosgoth which pits three ranged human players against three melee-focused vampires.
I went hands-on at PAX and tried both sides of the conflict in a gothic-looking map with plenty of opportunity to flank, take cover, and ambush though Nosgoth will have many more locales to play in and around. I started with the vampires and took on the Reaver class with the ability pounce on and run circles around enemies. Reavers will likely prove a favorite thanks to their increased mobility, though vampires can also lean on lumbering Tyrants to deal heavy damage and yet Nosgoth still managed to surprise me with a few more original ideas.
Where Reavers and Tyrants may remind gamers of Hunters and Tanks from Left 4 Dead, Valve’s multiplayer shooter certainly doesn’t have an option like the Sentinel vampire in Nosgoth. Sentinels can actually take off into flight and swoop around the battlefield at will either to escape enemy fire or to pick up an opponent and drop them from a great height. I failed to actually kill someone this way, even though I was impressed with Psyonix’s drive to create a totally fresh class out of some very old material.
I don’t personally expect a lot of originality from vampire movies or TV shows, so seeing such an unique idea for a multiplayer shooter pulled me deeper into the game. I would say that there’s potential for some terrible multiplayer balancing but the challenge in timing your use of the Sentinel’s flight and getting the virtual spacing between your character and an opponent will prove very difficult. In the end, Nosgoth’s squad of bloodsuckers offer some technical abilities with vicious damage.
The humans aren’t much different, though their ranged weapons will feel much closer to the shooter mechanics you’d expect in this competitive multiplayer arena. The Hunter’s cross-bow fires like an assault rifle and deals a lot of damage if you can keep it trained on a vampire. The Scout also fires arrows albeit at long-range and with great accuracy. Alchemists will let players mess with explosives in the heat of combat, though I spent my time as a human with the Prophet.
While I originally based my decision on the skull mask Prophets where in game, I eventually came to lean on a powerful ability that cleared groups of vampires. Prophets have dual pistols as a primary weapon, but they can also summon a hornet’s nest of bad blood that deals heavy damage and weakens opponents for teammates to finish them off. Prophets also come with sticky grenades that proved particularly powerful in eliminating the heavy tank-like vampire Tyrants.
I did fairly well in each match, though every victory proved a team effort either through close coordination of vampire forces or reliable back up from a human ally. With humans using ranged attacks, they’ll come to rely on vantage points though smart vampire teams will no doubt learn quickly and stick together in close quarters in order to gang up on humans. Nosgoth is currently in a closed beta, though Psyonix is offering a variety of founders packs on Nosgoth.com. We’ll have more on the game as we near release.