Slicing and dicing with impunity
Whether you love or hate the free-to-play model, you better get used to it, because that's where a huge chunk of the gaming market's headed. Bethesda is the next studio to throw its hat into the F2P ring with Battlecry, a third-person brawler from the ZeniMax studio of the same name. And while its fast-paced arena battles might feel familiar to fans of old-school F2P games like Gunz, Battlecry's unique aesthetic sets the class-based team warfare apart from the rest of the pack.
That's because this battle royale takes place in a steampunk world populated by three contending factions, with a subtly cel-shaded graphical style that looks like the lovechild of Team Fortress 2 and Dishonored. Battlecry posits a war without gunpowder, so medieval-esque armor, metal blades, and reinforced arrows are the weaponry of the day. You choose from one of five classes: the Enforcer (a heavy bruiser whose sword can expand into a shield), Duelist (dual-sword, close-up melee fighter with stealth), Tech Archer (long-range sniper), Gadgeteer (support class with a magnetic gauss rifle), and Brawler (a melee bruiser build for crowd control). The latter two aren't yet in the game, but I got to take the rest for a joyride in a few rounds of chaotic, 32-player team deathmatch.
Like a classic game of Quake or Unreal Tournament, Battlecry delivers a steady stream of twitchy excitement. Whenever I wasn't charging sword-end first into the fray, I was speeding to the nearest clash with dodge-rolls and gap-crossing swings on grappling hooks. Every class has their own special abilities, including an Ultimate; as the Enforcer, that means going invulnerable and absolutely wrecking fools in droves. But it's not all conflict all the time--Battlecry also encourages good sportsmanship with an intriguing commendation ceremony post-match.
Check out the following screenshots for additional info!
The build I played was pre-alpha, so it's understandable that the balance isn't ironed out yet. Still, the Enforcer was EXTREMELY overpowered, with an unstoppable mix of damage and defense. That just made chopping up fools all the more fun for me.
Blood and gore are prevalent in Battlecry, as evidenced by this beheading. But the graphic novel-style look of the game ensures that the carnage is never too stomach-churning
This stage is just the right size: big enough so that you're not running into enemies nonstop, but compact enough to ensure that it's never too long before you're in a brawl
Despite the look of these screenshots, the levels (called WarZones) aren't just flat arenas. You can grapple to the second story of most structures--perfect for sniping as a Tech Archer
Though each faction has access to the same five classes, they all have distinct character models and animations that suit your faction's aesthetic. Eventually, you can even unlock a gender swap for your chosen class
If this shot is giving you flashbacks to the level desgin of Half-Life 2 and Dishonored, it's not just your imagination. Viktor Antonov, who worked on both games, also directed the art style for Battlecry