by Sergio Brinkhuis
previewed on PC
Open World action RPG
It is no secret that success as a game developer does not come easy. Neocore worked hard for theirs and the Hungarian Studio has come a long way since releasing their first game back in 2009. During its early years, Neocore focused on strategy titles such as Crusaders: Thy Kingdom Come and King Arthur: The Role-playing Wargame. These titles most resembled the Total War games but innovated where Creative Assembly settled for simply doing more of the same and both games were well received. Not resting on their laurels, they took the same approach creating The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing, an action RPG in which the designers went all out in creating some of the most imaginative adversaries ever to grace the genre. Their work on Van Helsing opened the door to Games Workshop, landing them the rights to develop Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor - Martyr, the first ever open world action RPG set in the Warhammer 40K universe.
Themed content seasons
Watching Martyr in action for the very first time, it is hard not to notice its pedigree. Like Van Helsing, the game is a thoroughbred action-slasher in which all kinds of weird and wonderful creatures are trying to cut your life short. You also have a similar role - instead of hunting monsters in and around Borgova, you are now rooting out heresy around the galaxy for the Imperium. If you have played Van Helsing, you’ll remember that character and object animations felt like there was a certain slowness to them, almost as if the air had a resistance, like water but a lot less. Even that is present here.
But this is pretty much where the similarities end. For starters, you are in a vast galaxy made up of planets and sectors. At launch, not all of these will be filled with content. Neocore is planning to release what they call themed content seasons, each season adding new content of various types. A season could unlock a sector or planet, introduce a new race, and add missions. Each season will conclude in a major event that sets the scene for the season that will follow, usually coinciding with changes to the starmap. An event may for instance revolve around the final days of a planet at war before it is completely destroyed by the warring factions. The next time you visit you may find it uninhabitable, or even split into pieces, its gigantic shards floating lifelessly in the emptiness that is space.
The demonstration started off with a presentation of the crusader class, a deadly class which favors its 10 ton armor over speed. The slow, lumbering character on the screen packed quite a punch and could take it equally well. Martyr will feature a cover system, not only for you as the player but also for your enemies. This means that ranged combat is only partially effective. I figured the demonstrator would have to resort to cornering tactics instead. But then he started hacking away at the enemy cover, turning it into rubble with brutal efficiency and exposing those behind.
Boss fights are promising to be particularly entertaining, and gory. As you would expect from a boss fight, figuring out the weak spot of your adversary is the key to defeating them. To help speed things along, you can shoot off limbs. If a limb happens to have featured a rocket launcher or machine gun, well, then you don’t have to worry about it again. And when you are ready to move in for the kill, the game will treat you to a wide variety of awesome looking finishing moves that would cause Tekken fans to blush from jealous anticipation. The unholy end boss in the presentation had his head ripped off as the crusader climbed onto his gigantic armored body, stuck his hand into his face and yanked on the skull in a single fluid motion.
Martyr is shaping up to be a very solid entry into the Warhammer universe. Neocore is (or should be) famous for their ability to create diverse adversaries with surprising moves and - knowing them a little - I think working within such a vast and well known universe is a big inspiration for the team. The content seasons are right up their alley too. In some ways, the three Van Helsing games were content seasons - each too big to be DLC, each with a vast new story and tons of new creatures to crush. Warhammer and Neocore are a really good match and I’m keen to see how this marriage will pan out when the game launches sometime next year.