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PAX AUS 2014 – BattleCry Hands-On Impressions

With multiplayer gaming being as huge as it is, it’s surprising that more developers haven’t tried to refine the frantic mechanics of character action titles like God of War and DMC into compelling multiplayer experiences. Bethesda’s BattleCry looks to do just that and the team-oriented competitive multiplayer action game had a big presence at this year’s PAX AUS. I spent a bit of time with the game and came away eager for more.

Set in an alternate history wherein gunfire was banned at the dawn of the 20th century, BattleCry see’s the Nationalist factions of the world battle it out over isolated battlefields known as war zones. Though the developers spent much of PAX AUS teasing the potential of the games third faction, they only gave players the chance to see and play the first two – The British Royal Marines and the Russian Cossacks.

On paper, BattleCry could be easily surmised by describing it as God of War meets Team Fortress 2 but in practice it actually reminded me a lot of Fatshark’s niche and long-forgotten Lead and Gold. Within the aforementioned Cossacks and Royal Marine factions, BattleCry will see players take control of one of five character classes – The Tech Archer, The Enforcer, The Duelist, The Gadgeteer and The Brawler – though the latter two were not available for play yet.

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I spent most of my time with the Enforcer and this heavy-hitter is the game’s tank class. I would use his charge ability to leap into the fray and then use his stylish spinning slash attacks to deal out tons of damage. Though I didn’t play them, the other classes all look to have their own fun playstyles with the Tech-Archer being the only ranged class – a massive advantage in a world without gunpowder – and the Duelist a choice for those who prefer a more stealthy approach.

Though the full free-to-play title will offer a number of different game modes, my time with BattleCry at PAX AUS only saw me try its take on the classic capture point game type. The big modifier here was the capture points themselves. Once captured, nodes would feed your team points but after a minute or so they would reset and respawn elsewhere on the map. This kept things interesting and mobile – skirmishes erupted all over the map and neither team ever found themselves bogged down for very long.

The game wears it’s shared heritage with Dishonored on its sleeve when it comes to its aesthetics. Everything has a crisp, defined look to it and there’s an impressive level of he tail to the environments which the game directly leverages toward establishing its own compelling steampunk-esque tone. On top of that, the character designs in the game were also quite distinct – and in the case of the female characters, refreshingly non-sexualized.

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Though it feels like BattleCry is definitely approaching its niche in a smart way, its longevity will definitely rely a lot on both community and developer support. BattleCry studios have promised progression systems for both the games classes and factions to mention emphasized their opposition to making the game pay-to-win in any way – and while these promises are all well and good, it’s up to the community that forms around the game to decide whether these offerings are worth hanging around for.

Be sure to keep an eye on Leviathyn for our impressions when the game hits beta early next year.

Click here for more previews from PAX AUS 2014!