Wednesday, April 25, 2012

PAX East: War of the Roses First Look

My personal favorite game that I encountered at PAX East was War of the Roses. I intend to defend that statement now vigorously and convert at least two of the five people that will read this article to pay more attention to this title and pick it up when it comes out.

At PAX East I had the opportunity to sit down with the Senior Producer for War of the Roses by Paradox Interactive, Gorden Van Dyke. It was a great conversation and has me convinced that if I ever change careers again (inevitable) maybe I'll actually pursue journalism.

Essentially, War of the Roses seems like it's trying to be a deliberate skill based, first-person medieval meele combat game. I think that makes it a FPMMC, which might be a first for the genre! Even in this early stage of the game, the combat was both difficult and rewarding, and I'm happy to report that I managed to utilize strategies like attacking Mr. Van Dyke from behind or when already engaged by teammates to ruthlessly murder him at least 20% of the time that I attempted it.

To give you an idea of why I have an amazing amount of confidence in where War of the Roses is heading it's probably important to learn a little bit more about the Senior Producer's pedigree. Let me sum this up succinctly. Do you like Battlefield? Great!

Mr. Van Dyke has been a producer on the series since BF2142 all the way through Bad Company 2, the game that has forever solidified that I'll never play any verison of Modern Warfare again. Given Paradox's history with the PC for more niche games--particular in the genre of grand strategy--it was wise of them to bring in someone with those chops to work on a first-person combat game wouldn't you say?

War of the Roses will use the Frostbite engine and it looked pretty polished when I played it even though it won't actually be released for a little while. The game will emphasize team play and awareness of your weapons and the space that you are using them in. You can change the direction of your attack based on the direction you move your mouse in when you swing.

Want to come in with a right to left chop? Move your mouse accordingly. There's also a power meter that charges up when you hold the attacks down. It's worth it to use this to your advantage and that really slows the combat down a bit, making it more cerebral. Just flailing away won't help you much versus someone carefully selecting powerful attacks to pummel you with.

Once an enemy is down they can be revived by a teammate or you can execute them. The executions are brutal and satisfying little cutscenes, but beware if there are other enemies around as you are left pretty vulnerable.

I mentioned space being important. One of the coolest things about the game is the way that buildings and surroundings can absolutely affect your ability to swing a weapon. The game won't be forgiving and just clip through a building to finish the swing. If you hit a wall, your attack is screwed. I played with a sword and shield build, a lance build and a crossbow build. Archery is difficult and will take some getting used to, which is fine with me because kiting archers in a game like this are a giant pain!

Some of the other features that Mr. Van Dyke seemed to be excited about are the ancillary things to the primary gameplay. As you play you will unlock the opportunity to customize weapons with, say, different metal types. He stated that customization is usually one of those things he scoffs at in games, but he seemed excited about the lengths that War of the Roses has gone to with them.

While I couldn't pin down exactly how big the battles would be, he did indicate that he WAS a Battlefield producer for a while and large scale is what that game is all about. I anticipate there will be some frantic battles with at least a dozen or so players on a team going on.

While to my knowledge no official release date for the game is out I was told that it's pretty far along and a target date of somewhere towards the end of August or early September this year is the goal. Obviously this is far from an official release date and is subject to change, but I was excited that it could be out that soon!

I think that reasonably covers why I'm excited for this upcoming title and am really looking forward to trying it out when it finally hits Steam. Thanks to Paradox and Gordon for taking the time to speak with this modest author about your upcoming game. It was greatly appreciated and it completely justified my excitement for this title going in to the show.

Happy gaming...and reading! Oh, and by the way, the name of the third picture there is "Dagger to the Face," if that gives you any indication as to what to expect from the game. Check out the launch trailer below.

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