BattleCry: Does Bethesda’s visceral brawler have what it takes?

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Our impressions on the recently announced free-to-play action game BattleCry.

What is it?

Bethesda just announced BattleCry, a game in development at BattleCry Studios. While many were initially hoping that The Elder Scrolls Online was going to be a free-to-play game, this announcement is testimony to the studio’s interest in the ever-growing F2P market and commitment to leaving a strong impression.

BattleCry isn’t an MMORPG though; it’s described by the developers as offering “brutal, high-action, 32-player battles”. The reveal trailer wasn’t enough to give a clear idea on how the game would look and feel, despite the great design and the fact that it works perfectly as a teaser, getting action fans excited about the potential of visceral battles in a steampunk universe. Mission accomplished, the game is getting out there and word of mouth is a reality.

BattleCry is shaping up to be a third-person team-based action game in the same way as Forge or ArcheBlade, to name just a few. But does it feature anything that can make it stand out from the competition? What can we expect of the game?

Unlike the aforementioned examples, Bethesda has all the necessary resources to make a AAA game experience and support it for years to come, adding content to keep players interested in supporting it, with microtransactions for sure (hats?).

Graphics

The first impression is always a strong one and the fact that the art style is directed by Viktor Antonov, of Half-Life 2 and Dishonored fame is a really, really significant plus. Most players already know just how talented he is and how he can create architectural masterpieces in videogames – who could ever forget Half-Life 2’s dystopian City 17? This alone will help get many players onboard. It’s a highly-stylized world with hints of steampunk and one where everything seems to be carefully placed, set to work both as a visual pleasure and as a relevant gameplay element.

The characters sport this cartoonish-but-not-quite look that doesn’t go as far as Team Fortress 2, but also doesn’t stray too far, or at least enough to avoid comparisons. Apparently they fit well with the world design, which is also stylized in a way that makes it look like a perfect mix between cartoon and reality. However, what stands out the most in the first batch of screenshots is just how bloody and visceral the game is. The ground is regularly splattered with blood and there are even brutal decapitations, so this is a game that makes no concessions, despite the initially pleasant look of it.

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Gameplay

BattleCry is announced as a violent action game with elaborate combos and dynamic movement, including evading and grappling. There’s also an adrenaline system for limited time special powers or a lethal ability – probably something like an execution. The first screenshots reinforce the idea that the verticality will indeed play an important part of the game, but we’re yet to see how acrobatic the movement is and just how well the characters respond to our commands.

The use of transformative weaponry could be fun but this isn’t likely to be the game to beat Loadout and its in-depth weapon customization. Having alternative attacks to a weapon can add some depth to the gameplay but hopefully it won’t turn combat into some kind of rock-paper-scissors system where you just have to know which class is more suited to beat the enemy. BattleCry also seems to have a nice focus on melee combat, so let’s hope that the swords and blades clash perfectly and that impact sensations are well rendered. Of course, there are ranged weapons such as crossbows and steampunk machine guns to add to the mix.

What we expect

We’re not expecting BattleCry to be a revolution – there’s only so much you can do with a team-based action game – but we’re expecting it to turn up extremely polished and addictive. Needless to say, we have high hopes for it, but let’s wait for some gameplay footage to see if our guess was anywhere near the target.

What do you think of BattleCry based on the first details?

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