E3 2016: Attack on Titan Is Frighteningly Close to the Anime – Hands-On Preview

While I haven’t read the Attack on Titan manga, I’ve loved Attack on Titan ever since I first saw the animated TV series. Not only does the story have a wildly different concept, but the combat is also very unique and stylish. This anime really sets itself apart from the rest. I had the opportunity to play Koei Tecmo’s interpretation of Attack on Titan game at E3 2016, and I have to say that it felt just like I was playing the anime.

This is due to the authentic look and gameplay as well as the familiar storyline that mimics season one of the TV show. Thanks to beautiful cel-shading art style, this game looks exactly like the anime in regards to the city, its inhabitants, the various military groups, and the titans themselves. In addition, players can utilize the same types of moves and abilities they see in the anime, including OMD and visually-pleasing sword-based combat. There will also be additional gear as well as a storyline that progresses slightly beyond what’s seen in season one of the TV show.

For those unfamiliar with the storyline of Attack on Titan, it’s set in the future 100 years after a mysterious race of gigantic humanoids nearly wiped out humanity. These Titans range in size from around twenty to sixty feet tall, and their favorite meal is human flesh. The only survivors of this invasion created a gigantic city with three huge walls to protect themselves from the merciless creatures. Early in the story, a 120-foot tall Colossus Titan breaches the outer wall, letting in a swarm of smaller titans who kill many humans. Young Eren Yeager watches in horror as his mother falls victim to a Titan, and he vows to join the Survey Corps to eradicate every Titan in existence.

Two years later Eren joins the 104th Training Corps and eventually proves himself worthy of being in the advanced Survey Corps. He then joins his fellow soldiers on missions to protect humans from the monstrous Titans. One thing that sets these soldiers apart is that they have access to OMD, or omni-directional mobility gear, which is a fancy phrase for a gadget that propels them through the air using steel wires. This is the only way to get high enough in the air to slice through the back of the Titan’s necks, which is their only weak point.

I didn’t know what to expect when I fired up the demo, but I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to move through each level using OMD. The developers told me that they tried to incorporate a more complex version of OMD, but it was unplayable. As a result, the version that players use in the game shoots one steel cable out of each side and propels players forward. Depending on what they attach to, players will shoot horizontally or at an upwards angle. I think it’s really cool that players need to actually have something to attach the cables to for it to work as it adds a touch of realism.

Just like the anime, players also have access to a thrust button that can be used while jumping or when using OMD. This adds a lot of potential to the types of moves players can do as it’s possible to jump off of a building, use thrust, shoot out the cables, and then alternate between the two to quickly move around. I was also able to change angles when using OMD by thrusting and turning and then shooting out another pair of cables. Skilled use of OMD and thrust not only looks cool, but will also let players kill multiple Titans without touching the ground.

When players are near a Titan, they must press a button to change from movement to attack mode. This lets players target a Titan’s limb or neck and shoot one cable into its body. Players will automatically zip towards them, and timing the attack before the player reaches the Titan initiates a powerful slice that inflicts damage. However, super attacks can be made by using a thrust while zipping towards the Titan and then pressing attack. These super attacks can sever a limb and even take down a Titan in one move!

Thrust has a limited number of uses, and every soldier’s sword will wear eventually, so it’s best to keep an eye on their meters. If they need replacement, simply approach an engineer ally and players will be prompted to resupply themselves. It’s still possible to kill Titans without thrust, but it’s more difficult and, more importantly, not as fun.

Players begin their Titan-slaying adventure as Eren Yeager, but they will be able to control three other characters during the main story mode. Each character has at least one type of unique feature that sets them apart from the rest. For example, Mikasa Ackerman can initiate combo attacks when she zips towards a Titan while the others cannot.

After season one is completed in story mode, six other members of the Survey Corps will become playable, and it will also be possible to take them back into previous levels. Fans of the series won’t be surprised to learn that they can even play some levels as a Titan, but I don’t want to reveal the reason as some people aren’t familiar with the storyline.

Add in different types of upgradeable gear as well as optional missions to the mix, and the result is a truly authentic representation of the anime. Fans won’t have to wait long as Attack on Titan will be released on August 30, 2016 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.