Developer Counterplay Games
Publisher Gearbox Publishing
Platforms PS5, PC
Release TBC 2020
What should we expect from the next generation of video games? That's something of an open question at this early stage of the cycle. We have an increasingly clear understanding of the tech and components being crammed inside of the consoles, but we are yet to see how any of it will influence or impact play. That's why Godfall is such an intriguing prospect; not only is it the first officially-announced PS5 game but it just so happens to be our first look at a PS5 game in action too.
Godfall comes courtesy of Counterplay Games, the studio behind Duelyst – the Kickstarted CCG that has quietly proven itself as a welcomed alternative to Hearthstone and The Elder Scrolls: Legends over the last three years. As impressive as that is, a collectable card game Godfall is not. In fact, it is being positioned as the next generation of action-RPGs, a co-operative focused fantasy game that'll keep you and your friends engaged long after the launch of the PS5.
The first confirmed PS5 game
Counterplay is looking to bring third-person, mastery-driven melee combat together with a focus on loot-driven progression. Godfall is being described as a 'Looter-slasher', which the studio's CEO believes should be an intriguing prospect for any and all prospective PS5 owners. "Imagine a co-op looter-shooter experience like Borderlands," Keith Lee tells me over email, the development team hard at work on its most ambitious title to date, "but instead it's a co-op looter-slasher experience set in a more serious and brand-new fantasy world filled with heroic knights and ancient magic."
That world that Lee is teasing is one with its roots in high-fantasy. It's a mysterious universe being consumed by the convergence of ancient realms and arcane magic, as the realms of Air, Earth, Fire, Spirit, and Water begin to overlap on the eve of an impending apocalypse. You'd have seen a hint of two of these realms in the debut in-engine trailer, as the last remnants of the Knight's Order – the faction that your playable character belongs to – stands beneath the towering Skybreak Monolith on Earth realm, preparing for a coming storm as creatures of the Water realm pull through a dizzying maelstrom overhead.
Fighting back against these warring factions will take three things: skill, loot, and a couple of buddies by your side. While Godfall can be played solo, it is being built with co-op in mind. It's an offensively-driven action game, always pushing you to act aggressively and decisively, with Counterplay promising that enemies will respond dynamically to your party size – with mutating behaviours and attack patterns shifting the challenge as necessary.
That's a much-welcomed feature, especially as Godfall attempts to put melee combat at the forefront of the experience. Lee explains that the loop is easy enough to grasp, as you "gear up with close-range melee weapons to vanquish foes and team up with friends to hunt for awesome powerful loot", with the challenge stemming from a combat experience that takes the stress and precision usually attributed to "one-off cat-and-mouse challenges" and broadens it out to encompass "one-against-many enemy encounters along with challenging head-to-head boss fights".
The Godfall trailer also gives us an early look at three character builds. You'll push through the game as an avatar of the Knight's Order, a blank-slate of sorts that can be tailored to your personal playstyle by acquiring weapons (you'll have two primary melee weapon slots to cycle between, as well as a variety of other abilities and ranged attacks attached to cooldowns) and new gear. In fact, a big part of the loot chase will be in hunting for Valorplates, which are effectively armour-sets built to give you flexibility over your prowess in combat and your primary class selection.
Counterplay has teased that you'll be able to swap roles in the middle of missions and that each of the Valorplates can be further augmented by to give you new offensive abilities, powers, and the capacity to use elemental magic to support your group in the tougher encounters. While we've only caught but a glimpse of what combat looks like in action, an easy comparison would be Lord of the Fallen meets Diablo, with the camera clinging closely to your character's shoulder, with a focus on dishing out measured melee attacks and crowd-controlling large groups of enemies. Counterplay says we will have to wait until later this year to see more of it in action.
One thing we haven't gotten into just yet is how stunning Godfall looks. That in-engine tease has given us but a taste of what to expect from the PS5, already impressing with its dense and detailed environments, huge scale, dynamic lighting, and screen-filling particle effects. For Lee, however, it isn't the graphical prowess of this PS5 console exclusive – Godfall is also launching on PC, with 12-month exclusivity to the Epic Game Store – that we should be focused on, but rather other advancements being unlocked by the console's tech. "The exceptionally powerful SSD on the PlayStation 5 offers a new level of detail for each individual object as well as seamless loading of our expansive world. Our combat is kinesthetic in nature, so the new controller's 'adaptive triggers' and haptic feedback will make moment-to-moment combat feel exhilarating and visceral."
We're excited to see it in action and to experience what might be the first co-op game of the next generation. Given the success of titles like Destiny, Diablo 3, and The Division this past decade, it's clear that these types of loot-driven, community-focused, dynamic and evolving experiences are going to be at the heart of the ninth-generation of gaming. We'll get to see more of Godfall on PS5 in action later this year, and for now, we'll have to be content playing that gorgeous trailer on repeat as we count down the days.
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