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Rusty Hearts, the anime-esque MMO hack-‘n’-slash from Perfect World Entertainment, is about to transform. With the Reborn expansion going live next Tuesday on July 24th, the game’s about to get a lot more appealing to newcomers and veterans alike with the game’s biggest update since launch. New jobs, new stages, new features, and the requisite new enemies and weapons - it’s all about “new” with Reborn, and now's the perfect time to join in the fray.

If you haven’t already given this free-to-play beat-‘em-up a try, Rusty Hearts feels like a classic arcade brawler - think Final Fight or Streets of Rage - set in a gothic anime setting riddled with showy character designs and their equally-impressive repertoire of moves. Developer Mark Hill likens the game to “Castle Crashers meets Full Metal Alchemist,” a formula which we can happily get behind. Playing equally as well with a keyboard or a gamepad, it’s sure to bring you back to days of plunking quarters into your local arcade’s best side-scrolling, thug-bashing fightfest.

 

Rookie players may not notice it, but much of the additional Reborn content has been catered to improve their quality-of-life when delving into the game for the first time. Revamped character creation helps novices get a better sense of what their chosen character is capable of - let alone looking infinitely cooler than previous iterations. A brand-new starting area has been designed to ease newbies into the game: instead of throwing them into the fray in the dark depths of castles and sewers, greenhorns will get to learn the ropes in a bright, outdoor forest zone. While the cheery-looking area is undoubtedly less intimidating, it also goes a long way towards diversifying your surroundings when first leveling up.

But worry not, Rusty Hearts experts - there’s plenty of content in Reborn for you to sink your teeth into, with new job focuses, PvP systems, and increased difficulty in the late game. The job focuses are chief among the exciting features in Reborn’s bullet-list, granting every current character an additional weapon style and bumping their variations from two to three. These are essentially as substantial as entirely fresh classes: with their newfound armaments and accompanying movesets, old faces will be busting out novel combos and flashy finishing moves that make playing an alt all the more appealing.

Case in point: Natasha, the femme fatale whose arsenal includes powerful muskets and dual pistols, will be getting an awesome new toy: an attaché case that transforms into a multitude of deadly firearms. Gatling guns, cannons, a Spartan-style shielding dome with myriad rifle barrels poking out of it - it seems there’s nothing this lethal briefcase can’t conjure up. Our favorite of Natasha’s new moves is a must-see: her magic case morphs into a full-on wheeled mortar launcher, which she then rides on top of to dash forward and bash any unfortunate enemies caught in its wake. Old favorites haven’t been neglected: resident badass Tude goes from a clawed close-range pugilist to a bonafide metal boxer with his dual steel gauntlets, which amplify his already-impressive melee bashing tenfold. As if the new job focuses weren’t enough, two previously-premium characters will now be completely free, so stingy gamers can look forward to giving them a go.

Professional-level RH players have been vocal about their yearning for more end-game content; with Reborn, their prayers have been answered. The PvP aspects are getting a complete overhaul in Reborn with the introduction of a welcome ladder system - instead of the outdated room-based system that could pit opponents with a 20-level discrepancy between them, a new auto-matchmaking system ensures that every fight is a level playing field. Better yet, it prioritizes a player’s ping first and foremost, so you won’t be able to blame lag for any flubbed combos or crushing defeats. The ladder should promote the kind of one-on-one, hardcore PvP community that the developers envisioned for the high-end gameplay, fostering competition amongst the experts who want the glory inherent in a prime spot on the new leaderboards.

PvE is also getting some much needed love for those who’ve worked their way deep into Rusty Hearts’ dungeons. A new “party gauge” will incentivize partying up with allies in the later levels to increase the stakes: enemies’ strength will scale to the party-size, but in exchange, slaying these monsters will produce the appropriate amount of loot. Drop increases have also been boosted, and an extremely helpful Dungeon Map now lays out each stage’s opposition and the gear they drop, so you’ll never have to consult a wiki in search of your ideal drop. Additionally, the introduction of Training dungeons finally lets players practice their most devastating skill combos against a docile punching-bag boss, so you’ll never have to risk death in a real dungeon run to try out a new skillset.

Top it all off with reduced XP requirements for leveling, an intriguing master/apprentice system that encourages pros to foster the new kids on the block, and some coveted new pets, and it’s official: with the launch of Reborn, there’s never been a better time to play Rusty Hearts. You can bet your britches that we’ll be jumping in to try out the new content - and with zero monetary barriers to entry, there’s nothing stopping you from doing the same.

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