HANDS ON: First look at Bethesda’s arena brawler, Battlecry

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Playable on the show floor was Battlecry, the upcoming free-to-play third First person brawler by Bethesda Softworks, which puts up to 32 players in a warzone, fighting for area control. The game focuses on team-based combat, combining fast-paced brutality and competitive multiplayer to bring you an interesting mix between Team Fortress and Smite.

Following a cataclysmic world war at the dawn of the 20th century, the most powerful Empires left standing came together to ban gun powder under The Black Powder Treaty. The short peace that followed gave birth to the Pansophic Revolution – a golden age of industrial manufacturing and design.  As technology advanced, old tensions reignited and soon the world faced the scourge of war once more. Fueled by technological Pansophic advancements, the face of warfare has changed.

All disagreements are settled head-on by elite teams of chosen warriors from all over the world, with each member specializing in either high-tech ranged gadgetry or sophisticated melee weapons. Trained and bred for battle, they meet each other in sanctioned WarZones to face off for their share of glory.

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There were 3 classes that were playable, each having their own style of play and special abilities. The Enforcer wields a huge sword that can transform into a shield, letting you inflict and absorb damage; the Tech Archer is more of a ranged character that fires arrows from afar, also having sonic and explosive arrows; and the Duelist, a stealth character that can turn invisible and wields two blades that can electrocute enemies. Two more classes, the Brawler and Gadgeteer, were shown in the selection screen but weren’t playable, but with this initial character lineup, the game looks to create unique play styles.

The gamemode we played at PAXAus was called Land Grab, a territory-based game where players must take control of 3 zones to earn points for their team, these sites will change location over time, which leads to dynamic arena play. It’s great to see games utilize the whole map, especially in Battlecry as the game looks amazing, using a comic art-style and having over the top blood effects, like Team Fortress. The game’s design is directed by Viktor Antonov, who also worked on Hals-Life 2 and Dishonored, with the characters and environment having a highly-stylized steampunk vibe.

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The Battlecry setup at PAX let you play with keyboard and mouse, but I used a controller, which in the end was not the best choice for playing a game like this. Gameplay is fast-paced, and using thumbsticks to focus on your opponent is difficult, aiming with the Archer especially. I was able to get a few kills switching between the Enforcer and Archer, each having their strengths and weaknesses. The gameplay was hectic, even at 8v8, the game doesn’t only test your skill, but your strategy, teamwork and communication.

The game will also include more classes, factions, and a progression system that will let players create their own character builds as they rank up. The Battlecry Beta will launch first in Australia and New Zealand in early 2015, and will be open to everywhere else later on in the year. PAXAus attendees were able to sign-up for the beta with priority access codes, but you can also sign up for the Beta HERE. What are your thoughts on Battlecry? Could you see this game in e-sports?