WH40K: Inquisitor - Martyr Preview - E3 2016
We get to check out the upcoming action RPG from creators of Van Helsing
Neocore Games have been creating games for a while now, specifically focusing on strategy and RPG genres. Their most recent works is a trio of games that are The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing. However now, with the recent relaxation of licensing rules from Games Workshop, the studio have managed to grab themselves a license for creating titles in the Warhammer 40k universe. The first such project is Warhammer 40k: Inquisitor – Martyr. A long name, to be sure, so the developers simply refer to it as Martyr for now. We had a chance to learn more about the game and play a couple of missions at E3.
Our presentation was hosted by Victor Juhasz, the lead narrative designer on the game. Martyr is an action RPG that takes place in the Warhammer 40k universe. At the centre of the game are the titular Inquisitors: secret, powerful agents that travel the galaxy and weed out any threats. The galaxy that players will get to explore in the game is quite open – you will have a multitude of star systems and planets to visit, many offering points of interest. It's here you can choose to undertake missions of over 50 different types, from simply purging all enemies to rescues and specific creature hunts. Each of the planets you visit will have randomly generated layouts, build from pre-existing pieces such as puzzles and other areas. The developers say that players won't see the same level twice thanks to this system.
E3 marked the debut of the second character class to be revealed for the game – the Assassin; this follows the earlier debut of the Crusader class. A third class will be revealed in the future; all will have their own unique passive/active skill trees for great variety and replayability. The Assassin class that we looked at in detail was able to use a sniper rifle for long distance shots, or get up close and personal with a pair of blades. According to the development team, they have learned a lot during the creation and subsequent feedback from fans on their Van Helsing franchise gameplay, and will apply those adjustments to their future projects such as this one.
Martyr will offer a persistent world that won't scale to the players. That means some areas will remain challenging until you've got the resources to take them on, and early areas will become extremely easy. A system called Live Events will be in the game, as conflicts will occasionally erupt across the galaxy. Players will have a choice to ignore or participate in these conflicts and pick a side. Ignoring an event may result in more foes if you ever return to the area. If you choose to participate and pick a side, you may find it tougher down the road to deal with certain factions.
Players will also have Fortresses, a sort of home base. These hideouts can be upgraded and customized, though we did not see this feature in action. They also serve as the game's asymmetrical PvP system. Players will be able to attack the Fortresses of others, perhaps like MGS V, though again the details on this feature are forthcoming. Developers reassured us that players will be able to opt out of this PvP. Or, if you're in the mood for cooperative play, most of the game's missions will be playable with up to four others. Players will be able to jump between their single player story campaign and cooperative play easily and quickly, since it will just be a matter of picking a different planet to visit, keeping the same character and gear.
When it comes to gameplay, we first observed a demo of two levels from the game, and then got a chance to play for ourselves. First up was a mission for the Assassin, where the goal was to eliminate all enemies in the area. The controls were fairly typical for an isometric action RPG, as we used the mouse to attack enemies and also move around. The Assassin class was fairly deadly when up close, hacking away at the monstrosities that rushed her on sight. These weaker but numerous enemies were quicker to dispatch by using the secondary attack ability that struck in multiple directions. For the tougher and ranged foes, using the rifle was more potent. We pushed through the swamp-like environment, clearing groups of enemies at a time. The game was notably challenging, unlike typical E3 demos, so we had to be strategic about our weapon choice and engagements, with kiting often needed to stay alive. You can restore health by using combat drugs, which is more fitting to the setting than potions, but they still have a cooldown.
The second demo was a mission for the Crusader character, tasked with tracking down an important enemy. This level took place indoors in a more industrial setting. The Crusader also had a melee weapon, but felt much more flexible thanks to his other abilities. First up, we could simply fire rounds from our automatic weapon at enemies; we could also throw a grenade. Last, but not least, there was a ranged gun attack that allowed us to manually target a specific body part of an enemy. If you manage to damage it, the foe will lose the corresponding function – such as ability to shoot back if you blow off their weapon arm. During this mission we were also facing more humanoid enemies, who mostly used guns.
With so much firepower, the game was able to showcase some of the environmental destruction and breakable cover. Both the player and enemies will automatically enter cover when approaching it, providing a bonus to defence. Players must also consider that some weapons may overheat, or require reloading, adding more strategy to encounters. Having fought our way through the facility, we eventually reached the boss. Taking him out took a little bit of time, but with good cover use and utilizing all special attacks at your disposal – including targeting body parts – he eventually fell, and we got to perform a brutal execution. Perhaps the only questionable design choice when it comes to combat is this targeting system – it felt cumbersome and slow to bring up the menu of what limb you wanted to shoot, something that goes against the flow of a fast paced action RPG.
Based on our time with Warhammer 40k: Inquisitor – Martyr and the information provided, it looks like Neocore Games are in a fairly solid position to take this iconic license and produce a game that's worthy of the name. The action RPG concepts have been fairly fleshed out thanks to their experience with Van Helsing, and the open / randomly generated nature of the game sounds promising. The game is expected to arrive on PC in early 2017, and later on consoles.