The gates of hell have reopened! We took a tour of the relaunched Hellgate to check out its gameplay and new pay structure.
In 2007, Hellgate: London was launched by Flagship Studios, a group formed primarily by Diablo developers from Blizzard North. Its post-apocalyptic landscape set the background for a battle between humans and demons in London, but its developers were also beset by financial troubles. Flagship filed for bankruptcy in 2008, while Hellgate: London ambled along for a bit before shutting down in early 2009..
Despite all of those hardships, the gates of hell have reopened. T3 Entertainment, Redbana and HanbitSoft brought the game back to North America and it recently entered open beta. Boasting 5 acts, advanced difficulty levels and a new pay structure, I had a chance to take a tour of the game's demon-invested landscape of 2038. Keep reading after the jump to find out I fared against the hordes of hell!
Now, I never tried Hellgate: London when it was first released, so I admit I was pretty much a newbie when it came to exploring the game. To help me along my journey I had Marketing Specialist Catherine Palma and Game Master Erycksson Manalo, who both did their best to explain the world of Hellgate to me. The plot of the game, Catherine explained, was best told through its cinematics: in the future, humans had become dependent on science and ignored both religion and prophecy. To punish their insolence, God opens Hell's Gates, releasing demons into the world. One of the main sites of this demonic invasion is in London, where the original Hellgate took place. The main character of the series (who is featured in the quests) is a woman named Jessica, whose grandfather was a Templar and originally fought the demons and saved the survivors of the city by placing them in an underground sanctuary. The players control one of these survivors, emerging from the sanctuary after years of building up strength, in an effort to retake their city and world.
Hellgate boasts both first-and-third person perspectives, depending on the class and weapons chosen; usually, melee classes are presented in third person view while ranged classes choose first-person (although this can be adjusted). Additionally, Catherine informed me that maps of Hellgate are randomly generated, allowing for replayability through varying locations and demons each time. There are also three levels of difficulty: Normal, Nightmare and Hell. Currently only the first two are implemented; the higher the difficulty, the more and more difficult demons become, but a player receives more experience and better loot.
Classes and the Tutorial System
Erycksson explained a bit about the classes and factions. There are six classes divided into three factions: Hunters, Templars and Cabalists. Hunters are the most scientific faction, encompassing Marksmen who specialize in guns and ranged damage, and Engineers who create bots and drones, unmanned mechanical creatures that auto-attack or heal. Templars include the damage-oriented, sword-wielding Blademasters as well as the more defensive Guardians, who battle with a shield and one-handed weapon. Finally, the Cabalists comprise the magical classes. Evokers are the more typically elemental casters, while Summoners can summon several demons at a time to heal or attack. Each of the three factions has its own particular bent to the main story, and each class has three specific skill trees that allow it to pick a particular area of focus. For example, an Engineer can focus on bots, drones or special ops.
For a new player entering the game for the first time, the game provides a hand-holding tutorial zone. This will teach players the basic controls of the game, some of which are non-intuitive. For example, in order to move a mouse cursor across the screen, a player must hold Alt first and then move the cursor; otherwise only the camera view changes. Luckily, all the controls are customizable in the keybinds menu, which I highly recommend. Another change from standard MMOs is inventory size. Players receive equipment that takes up space in their inventory depending upon the size of it (for those of a console-minded play style, think Resident Evil's inventory system). This is alleviated somewhat by the ability to dismantle equipment into smaller parts used to upgrade other equipment. It is further alleviated through purchases in the cash shop, which I'll get to later.
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