by Sergio Brinkhuis
previewed on PC
So far, the only multiplayer mode that is certain to make an appearance in the game is co-op. You can team up with your friends and go demon slaying together in the same fashion as Diablo. The game adjusts itself based on the size and level of your party, offering a fitting challenge every time you start a new game. Other multiplayer modes are being considered but nothing is definite yet.
Chances are that none of your fellow adventurers will have weapons and armor quite like yours. Weapons can be modified with all kinds of items to enhance or alter their effectiveness. Some modifications will increase the power, others will add another 'type' of damage so that you can affect a wider range of enemies. The cool thing about these mods is that they will not only change the way the weapons work, they will change the way they look, and even produce different effects. Picture adding a spectral damage mod to an electrical damage weapon and suddenly it pumps out a two colored ray instead of its original one colored one.
Cool no? With over a hundred base weapons, the number of unique weapons is truly unfathomable.
As you progress through the game, you'll be asked to take on a variety of missions. Along with a good number of 'set' missions that are part of the overall story, you will also be given a number of randomly generated quests. While the majority of the quests are available to all characters, the game will also contain a small number of quests unique to the individual character classes.
Finishing quests, first and foremost, will help to beef up your character through experience points that can be distributed to enhance your character, but there's more. Often these side quests will yield additional rewards. You may be given special items or weapons, or perhaps someone you helped might owe you a future favor instead. A lot of effort is being put into bringing a high level of variety to this part of the game.
One could argue that in a game like this, Artificial Intelligence of the computer controlled enemies isn't particularly important. Hellgate is meant to be a hack, slash and shoot kind of game. One of its main objectives is to deliver non-stop fast paced action and for that, having enemies throwing themselves onto your sword is the most satisfying kind of gameplay one could wish for. Just think of Painkiller and you know what I mean. Still, Flagship doesn't believe in half-baked AI, and is striving to provide a game AI that will be both surprising and refreshing. Each type of enemy will have its own specialty and will act according to its 'nature'. You'll see some of them actively working together while others show no inclination towards cooperative attacks at all. Some will prefer to use the environment as a shield - or even as a weapon - while their fellow baddies are hitting you full on.
All in all, I'm pretty excited about Hellgate London. It brings back the fast and furious battles of Diablo where battles could take surprising turns and not always for the better. Chaos reigns supreme here and it's just the kind of chaos that so many other games are missing. The developers are paying a huge amount of attention to details that are often forgotten or left out because of time restraints. Flagship is not cutting any corners for this one and if the game indeed comes out this year, I predict it will turn up in many 'game of the year' awards.