At the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, appointments behind-closed-doors are the only place where you can really get a feel for a certain game, away from the hustle and bustle of the exhibit halls.
In this edition of our hands-on and impressions articles, Tripp, Nick and I had an appointment with Focus Home Interactive to see Streum One Studio’s and Cyanide Studio’s first-person space FPS, Space Hulk – Deathwing, in action on Wednesday (6/17).
We got to see a behind-closed-doors live demo of Space Hulk – Deathwing at the Focus booth.
Space Hulk seeks to give players a shooter-game version of Games Workshop’s Space Hulk boardgame. The boardgame is based on the universe of Warhammer 40,000.
Developed on Unreal Engine 4, the game title refers to two things from the inspirations mentioned above. First, Space Hulks are like the interstellar version of the Great Pacific garbage patch: they are the culmination of microgravity’s work on gigantic mangled asteroids, abandoned ship wrecks and other space debris, and can grow as large as a moon. They even sometimes have treasures and ancient technologies hidden inside of them. But they also often contain hidden dangers, such as Genestealer infestations.
Meanwhile, the other half of the title, Deathwing, refers to the name of one of the most feared Space Marine companies from the Dark Angels. The Deathwing soldiers players control don on their Terminator armor and, equipped with the powerful weaponry of a Space Marine, set out to conquer the challenges they will face in the Space Hulk.
Here’s exactly what we saw: After sitting down, we were treated to a slideshow of screenshots and concept art of the game before seeing the game in action via a live demo.
The live demo started with a story set-up, followed by how to choose your character and teammates’ weapons (primary and secondary). Each teammate has special weapon types depending on their class. They also mentioned that Space Hulk – Deathwing is playable as both single-player and up to 5-player co-op.
Once the actual mission began, the developers were able to switch weapon loadouts to suit the environment and enemies. However, in the actual final game, players have only what they chose for their character and their teammates and cannot switch during the mission. Thus, players must carefully consider what weapons they choose to bring with them at the start.
The developer playing encountered enemies who were able to use firearms in addition to the normal Resident Evil-style enemies who run up to you to strike you.There were several times when the developer had to break open a locked door (or a door he just didn’t want to have to push an extra button for).
Spacehulk’s game map and GPS uses the standard waypoint system on-screen pointing to where to go to get to an objective and other information. However, there is a critical defect in the maps loaded on the Terminator suits that the devs wanted to highlight: they are old and outdated, and the Space Hulk you are exploring has changed in terms of new passageways built, and old ones blocked or destroyed, among other variables.
Enemies are indicated on the minimap by red dots, while your avatar and teammates are indicated by blue dots, which was very nostalgic of the original Alien movie sonar/heat sensor.
[pullquote align=”right”]Space Hulk: Deathwing is playable as both single-player and up to 5-player co-op[/pullquote]
In Spacehulk, team members are able to die, so it is important to aid them when they are overwhelmed and make sure they stay alive. One of the benefits to keeping all members alive is that some of them have specialized equipment and weapons (as can be seen in the picture at the top of this post) that make killing certain enemies and accessing or fighting in some areas easier and possible.
There was a final section of the demo when the player had to fight off waves of Genestealers to get to the next area.
Unfortunately, the live demo player didn’t finish the mission due to time constraints for the next presentation.
What I Thought Of It[divider type=”thick”]
Space Hulk – Deathwing has that feeling of a jump-out-of-your seat FPS action-adventure-horror game. But maybe that’s just because I’m a scaredy-cat…
Anyway, embarrassing admission aside, I was impressed by the player UI and combat shown in the E3 build. My only scruple was with the clown-shoe-like avatar motion, but that’s to be expected realistically because of the giant suits of armor. Communications from teammates are printed next to their health bars, indicated by their name. Remaining total ammo and ammo in the clip of the weapon players are using is indicated by a virtual-reality-like bar pointing out of the weapon they are using.
Shooting is straightforward: just point at the enemy or direction you want to shoot and click a button. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a good feel for the sensitivity of certain weapons in terms of how easy it is to hit what you are aiming at if slightly off-target since it was a hands-off demo.
As for melee and/or physical weapons, I got a “T-rex” kind of feeling from how the dev struggled to hit some enemies. By “T-rex,” I mean that once the enemy is in front of you or around you, it is harder to hit them, and costly to the Terminator’s health.
I’m not sure why, but I got the sense that it’s hard to come to the rescue of your teammates. That difficulty is even more pronounced if surrounded by several enemies, and the part of the demo mentioned earlier where enemies came in waves was one such part that seemed tough for the live player. The player even had to use dev cheats that let him change loadouts to have a better weapon to use.
Based on what we saw, I can safely say that Space Hulk – Deathwing has the potential to be a hit action-adventure-horror, but might have some flaws in it that won’t be welcome for some gamers.
Space Hulk – Deathwing is scheduled for release sometime during the year of 2016 for the PS4, Xbox One and PC.
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