is setting up to be unlike any other title in the series and moves away from the well-known RPG set-up to something more closely resembling a MOBA. The demo on show at EGX tasked a team of four heroes to work their way through a verdant dungeon, while a fifth player, acting as the villain, selects locations for enemies, bombards areas with artillery strikes, and places traps and gates to block movement.
Each of the playable heroes has a different role that clearly fits into the well-established RPG roles of tank, damage dealers and healers. The tank’s aim is to give the damage dealers room to breathe using taunts and pulling enemies away from allies, while damage dealers do as their name suggests. The healer in the demo, Leach, wasn’t your typical healer and instead draws health from enemies and then passes it off to friendly targets, meaning that even as a healer you are required to be in the midst of combat and not just sit back in relative safety.
Playing as the villain feels like a completely different game. Essentially, it’s a simple RTS set-up with the four units set to the main face buttons with the triggers changing the actions that each unit performs. It’s a little confusing to begin with, but after a short time experimenting it becomes second nature. Corralling the heroes to a specific location, closing gates to split them up from each other and picking them off one by one is supremely satisfying, especially when it all falls into place. Of course when trying to outwit four real people - rather than an AI - actions tend to be less predictable and quick reactions are required to keep them occupied.
Selectively targeting specific heroes, or planning the order in which to take them out is vital. Separating the healer from the rest of the group will help to whittle the group’s health away, though aiming to take out the more damaging characters first might help your units to survive longer. It’s somewhat like a fast paced game of chess, having to plan a few moves ahead, making sure you have a fall back plan in case things go wrong, and being careful not to overextend your forces.
The level on demo was split into three waves, as the heroes progressed through the arena they had to defeat all of the villain’s creatures before being able to move into the next area. The villain on the other hand had to weaken the heroes as much as possible during these initial encounters in order to make the final stage a simpler affair. This final stage is (of course) a boss fight, and as seen in some of the earlier footage, featured a massive troll. Despite its size and power, the troll won’t survive for long against a full team of heroes and using the environment is key to success for the villain. Closing gates to single out a desired target and distracting the rest of the team with artillery strikes and sneak attacks seemed to work quite well. These distractions don’t last forever, though, and heroes can quickly turn the tables.
The balance between the heroes and the villain does seem quite fair, at times it can seem like either team is going to be victorious and it can all boil down to one or the other making a mistake. As long as the team of heroes works together, the chances of them surviving the encounter is certainly higher than if someone decides to go it alone. For the villain, the key to success is being as merciless and relentless as possible, though issuing the wrong order at a critical moment, such as bringing ranged units into melee combat, can be disastrous and cost you dearly in the long run.
The demo on show was of on early build and wasn’t as fully featured as the final game aims to be, but we were told that the upcoming beta
will feature more heroes, creatures and arenas. From what has been seen up to this point, the game shows a lot of promise and may appeal to a greater audience with its unique blend of role-playing and strategy, even if it's not the Fable
game that fans of the series were hoping for.