A new adventure awaits
Announced during Sony's PlayStation 4 reveal event in February, Capcom's Deep Down is still something of a mystery. It's got armor-clad heroes fighting grotesque monsters with swords but it takes place in the future. It's an online game--mostly? It's hard to explain.
But at the Tokyo Game show, Capcom has finally begun lifting the curtain. Now, we've talked about it, we've played it, and we've found out that it's going to be free-to-play. We even know when you'll be able to play it! It took a while, but we've started to grasp exactly what Deep Down is. Curious about Capcom's upcoming PS4 exclusive? Read on.
It will be free-to-play, with a beta launching next year
After playing Deep Down we thought it felt and looked as good as anything else we'd seen coming to next-gen, but never in a million years would we have expected to hear that it's going to be free-to-play. At the Tokyo Game Show, Capcom revealed just that--the game won't cost you a dime when it releases in 2014 (well, unless you want to buy stuff in-game, that is).
We don't know how the monetization plan will work just yet, but we assume it'll pull from other successful F2P titles that put an emphasis on customization over letting people "pay-to-win." We'll know more when the game's beta releases in February, near the launch of the PS4 in Japan.
It's a fantasy RPG
In Deep Down's reveal trailer, a band of armored adventures cautiously made their way through some shadowy ruins before facing a giant fire-breathing dragon. The battle that ensued was a glorious display of next-gen particle effects (you can thank Capcom's new Panta Rhei engine for all the pretties).
For a more accurate representation of Deep Down's gameplay, however, you need look no further than Capcom's presentation during Sony's pre-TGS conference. Here, you can see a lance-wielding warrior fight a few ogre-looking creatures. Notice the crosshairs in the video? You can actually aim your lance thrusts (and, presumably, the strikes of other weapons), perhaps allowing you to cripple enemies by attacking their appendages. Every time a strike lands, floating combat text details your damage output. Judging from brief glimpses of the UI, it appears you can equip different types of weapons and items, allowing for quick swaps on-the-fly. The whole thing has a sort of Dark Souls vibe, especially considering the reveal trailer ended with the tagline: "Conquer your fear or die a coward."
The controls are very physical and precise
Fighting monsters in Deep Down isn't about spamming combos and button-mashing. Instead, it's a more strategic, methodic approach to melee combat--more like Dark Souls than The Legend of Zelda. Different attacks take different amounts of time to execute, so you'll want to think before you start stabbing that big ugly monster.
This leads to strategic battles that make for impressive, weighty combat. Where you hit is important, too, and after having our faces caved in by a monster we realized that aiming at their legs or knees would cause them to stumble. Once they were down we'd stab in with a more powerful blow to the head, knocking them down in no time flat.
Online multiplayer is a major part of the game
Capcom's Yoshinori Ono repeatedly mentioned that Deep Down is, at its core, a multiplayer game. By banding together with other players, you'll be better equipped for overcoming the challenge presented by its many dungeons and the monsters that inhabit them. According to Ono, dungeons and creatures are "automatically generated," and the appearance and difficulty of monsters will change depending on the "time and place" you encounter them. As for dungeons, we're not sure if Ono means they're randomly generated, or if they adapt to provide an optimal level of challenge depending on the number of players (or both).
According to a Japanese interview with Ono, it appears as though you'll be able to play at least parts of the game solo, though it's unclear if Ono's referring to a tutorial or a complete offline campaign. In any case, the only multiplayer footage we've seen is of three players attempting to slay the dragon from Deep Down's reveal trailer.
It takes place in the year 2094 in New York
Here's something you might not have seen coming: Despite all of its medieval armor and weaponry, Deep Down actually takes place in the future. Specifically, the year 2094 in New York. You might be wondering, then, why people don't just fight monsters with insta-gib plasma rifles. Surely that'd be easier than smacking them with swords?
As far as we can tell, monsters don't actually exist in 2094--and if they did, you probably wouldn't see people running around in full suits of plate armor. So just what the hell is going on? Well...
Many of the next-gen games we've played look like last-gen games with more stuff floating around. This isn't the case with Deep Down--Capcom's dungeon-crawler is definitely a next-generation experience. Sure, it still meets its next-gen mandated "crap floating in the air" quota, but it steps well beyond that to create a more impressive, realistic experience.
Enemies have meaty, gross gashes in them after you stab them with a spear, and fire effects look great as they spew from traps. Most impressive was the lighting effects, though, which made the already well-rendered enemies look all the more realistic as they stomped around the dungeon.
Your character has the ability to travel back in time
Your player character has a very unique ability: By "reading" the memories of objects that exist in the real world, he (or she, if character customization is a thing) can travel back in time in an attempt to understand said object. And, based on this Deep Down trailer in which a woman can be heard saying, "I hear you're quite the researcher," we're guessing your character makes a living solving the mysteries of ancient artifacts.
Again, it's not exactly clear if you'll actually be traveling back through time, or instead living out the memories of people who made contact with the objects you're researching (akin to the Animus in Assassin's Creed). If nothing else, it at least explains how Deep Down's various time periods are connected.
...and is a member of an organization called the Ravens
Of course, if you were the only person with the ability to travel back through time, Deep Down probably wouldn't make for a very compelling multiplayer game. That's why you'll join up with other players from the Ravens, an organization that specializes (pure speculation here) in artifact research.
For those who can understand Japanese, Ono talks about this a bit in this interview. At the very least, the Ravens provide context for Deep Down's multiplayer component. Still, we're hoping that the organization plays a bigger role, perhaps serving as a sort of guild in which you can obtain higher ranks by completing missions.
Way up high
While we'll certainly be finding out more about Deep Down in the coming months, these are all the details we've got for now. What are your thoughts on what you've seen of Capcom's PS4 exclusive so far? Is it something you're excited for, or does the emphasis on multiplayer turn you off? Let us know in the comments below.