GDC 2009

GDC 2009: Huxley Preview

Emily Balistrieri | 6 Apr 2009 20:42
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When was the last time we heard from Huxley the MMO-FPS? It's been a while that is for sure, but the pre-alpha showed off during GDC was looking fine, despite the whole war-torn, future dystopia thing.

A rather large moon accident (think a zillion pieces) showers the Earth in space rock, causing untold ecological damage and chaos among the human population. It seems that some of the survivors ended up going into evolution overdrive - mutating - and hence we are given our two factions in the game: Human (Blue) and Alternative/Mutant (Red). Frankly, it's a little too cut and dry for me, but hopefully the storyline will add some depth, as you're tracking down the MIA Dr. Huxley, who proposed that the mutants were actually a new species.

Players choose between three different classes once they've settled on their faction: the all-around Avenger; the heavy armor, close range Enforcer; or the light armor, long range Phantom.You can see how these strengths would encourage certain role behaviors, but apparently there is enough wiggle room for the creative types. For example, you can tank as a Phantom using a decoy skill. As you approach the level cap of 30, you gain license points to stick into your skill tree, but there are some skills that work like jewels in many games - socketed straight into your gear (although here they aren't permanently placed, so you can mix and match as the circumstances dictate). The highest skill ranks are reserved for those who have proven themselves in PvP.

That brings us to the main gameplay triad: punking around your faction's city where you can accept PvE quests against hybrid creatures, competing in virtual combat PvP, or participating in the ongoing faction war on the battlegrounds.

We got a taste of Nostolonia, where the humans will do their shopping and teaming up. Lots of noob quests actually take place underneath the city in the sewers, since there is a pretty nasty hybrid infestation going on. It's an old school town on the Italian peninsula (the name doesn't resemble the word "nostalgia" in a couple different languages for no reason) kept that way by the inhabitants, so despite the fact that you can get around on hover bikes, it still looks like a pretty classic European city.

Virtual Combat gains you some handy experience as you play FPS-style game modes (yes, much death match) cross-server against other players. In case you didn't catch that, it means that when they have clan tournaments, you can win best in the entire game, not just best on your server.

Of course, the battlegrounds between Nostolonia and the mutant city Eska in the North East is where PvP will really be focused. After queuing non-invasively a la Warhammer Online, you'll be teleported to a site where you'll have battles (including the capture and hold variety) to win map points. So theoretically, one side can "win" for a while and essentially own the other race as well as enjoy some relief from the economic recession (no, not that one, but it's still on even in your gamer escapism).

We didn't get any hands-on, so it's hard to tell how good the FPS will feel, but if we learned anything that day we learned that Huxley is really more of an FPS-MMO than an MMO-FPS, so I'm crossing my fingers that they've nailed it. The graphics are impressive, but use Unreal Engine tech to keep the specs down; hopefully when Huxley finally releases we won't all have to run out for new PCs.

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