BATTLECRY – Hands On Impressions

The battle was set. My duelist seemed eager to take on the Royal Marines Tech Archer in front of me. I ran towards my enemy, using a nearby grappling hook to vault myself across a break in the terrain, quickly closing the gap. Out of nowhere, a giant blade collapsed upon me. Within seconds I had been picked apart by the Tech Archer as I tried to evade this new foe. To my dismay, escape was not in the cards and my Cossack Duelist fell to the ground in a lifeless lump, only to respawn seconds later to try it again.

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This is BATTLECRY, a new IP by the eponymously named studio BattleCry Studios. BATTLECRY is an alternate history game set in a world where there is no gunpowder. The World Wars have happened centuries before and the countries of the world decided in the aftermath to limit fighting to designated “War Zones.” During the time of BATTLECRY, these War Zones have become political tools for countries to resolve conflicts.

The game is a fast paced, frenetic 32-player combat game, featuring a painterly art style that really lends itself well to the overall feel of the world. The foreground is popping with detail, while the background fades into simply essential shapes. Really adds a level of depth to the world, making you remember that there is more out there than just the War Zone you are currently trying to stay alive within.

Thanks to a historical event in the world’s history known as the “Pansophic Revolution,” weapons are given more deadly power than before, taking the space normally left by gunpowder. The team at the studio felt that they really needed to create a rich history for the world, to give the game much more depth than your traditional battle arena game.

As I sat down at one of the Cossack stations, I noticed something that a lot of fans would really enjoy – native gamepad support. I tried both setups and found that I actually prefer the gamepad over the mouse and keyboard. Now when I was playing the Tech Archer, I did find my self gravitating back to the mouse, but mostly I stuck with the 360 pad in my hand and seemed to do well.

For not being a hyper-realistic, graphic intesive game, BATTLECRY is beautiful. The style is akin to what we see in games such as Team Fortress 2, but don’t let that fool you. the world looks great – the war zone is popping with detail truly showing the grittiness of the world around. Gritty, yet striking at the same time. The art style reflects a sort of “industrial” environment, but with a sort of melancholy that permeates around every corner. This is an area where you know you could die any minute, but yet the fighters seem to accept and embrace that thought. The art style reflects that as well.

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Though being a beautiful game, you won’t find to many light or bright colors around, with the exception of the occasional yellow from the Cossacks. Browns, tans, blood reds, oranges – all of these give the world a distinct look, and one the compliments it perfectly. The characters are also beautifully crafted, each faction having their own distinct style. The Cossacks dress in yellows and whites, and look and feel more rugged than the Royal Marines. The Marines represent the majesty and discipline of the British Empire, and their red and blue, neatly trimmed uniforms perfectly convey this.

The game developers wanted to make sure map flow was paramount. Movement is everything in BATTLECRY and if you find yourself standing around too long, you’ll likely end up dead. Fast, fluid motions really help you around the War Zone, and the hint of verticality really led itself well to manuevering around the field. I will say, this was by far the most impressive to me. This is not hyperbole by any stretch, but I honesty felt as if I was playing Titanfall, minus the wallrunning.

The combat was also pretty fluid. For being an alpha build, I was surprised at how well the game handled and felt, especially on the gamepad. Each character has two main attacks, as well as some special abilities. The enforcer, for instance, and turn their sword into a shield to block oncoming blows. The Duelist (which became my favorite pretty quickly) can use the technology from the Pansohpic Revolution to charge their blades and shock the enemy. The Tech Archer unleashes devastating attacks from range and uses her skills to get out of a hairy situation if the enemy can close the distance.

I played two games of BATTLECRY and was hooked. This was the arena style game I had been hoping for. There have been a couple of other titles here at the show that were along this same concept, but I honestly think Bethesda has struck gold here, especially because the game is Free to Play. With this model, anyone can jump in and join the fight quickly, and from what the dev team was saying at the show, the “paid for” features will be a long the line of skins, and not anything that will make you have an advantage over another player.

You can unlock items and gear using an in game earned currency called iron. You also have the chance to earn some extra iron at the end of the match. Instead of just jumping to a splash screen and showing off the player scores, you can go up to the other players and shower them with medals, iron and salutes in a show of good sportsmanship. After a few moments a newspaper reel will play showing highlights from the match before. A definite twist, and a refreshing one, on the typical post-combat experience.

BATTLECRY is shooting for a 2015 beta, but so far it looks great. Fast and fluid, pretty yet gritty; BattleCry Studios seem to know what their doing, which is no surprise with vets from all around the industry in their ranks. Look for more info regarding BATTLECRY as the year continues.

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