If Saints Row
is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Volition, I'd say that's fairly normal. The franchise has become a staple for the developer, which made it a bit surprising when Agents of Mayhem
was announced as their next game. However, even though the studio is moving onto something new, their past still has a strong inspiration on the future. Agents of Mayhem
exists within the larger Saints Row
universe, meaning that there'll be plenty of call outs to the popular series. Set in a technologically advanced version of Seoul, South Korea, the third-person shooter's aesthetic is what popped out the most to me during my time with the hands-on demo. Writer Jason Blair told us that Volition was aiming to make the game more colorful than anything else out there and they're on the right track for achieving that goal. While the various smaller details jump out with bright and vibrant colors, even larger set pieces such as the buildings and infrastructure seem to be far more full of life than they are just bland inanimate objects. Agents of Mayhem
also draws a lot of inspiration from comics and that is evident both in the setting and with the over-the-top characters.
Agents of Mayhem's setting is bursting with color
The team of multinational agents of MAYHEM (Multinational Agency for Hunting Evil Masterminds) are not your ordinary action heroes. Their mindset is solely to stop LEGION (League of Evil Gentlemen Intent on Obliterating Nations) from taking control by using any means necessary at their disposal. They're anti-heroes by the very definition, and it goes further than that. Before even taking 10 steps forward, I was shown how pressing down on the d-pad activated something called Gremlin Tech, and this particular ability allowed me to set timed explosives on every civilian I sprinted past. Before I knew it, there were screams, explosions, and bodies flying in every direction I turned. It took less than a minute to get a sense of Agents of Mayhem
's wacky vibe and to see Volition's true colors proudly on display.
There will be 12 agents to use throughout the course of the game, but only three are accessible at any given time. Rather than picking an agent to control and having the other two handled by AI, you instead control one agent at a time and switch to the other two with a simple click of the d-pad. While it's a little disappointing that a team of three isn't tackling the enemy together, the game made up for it with just how simple and gratifying it is to switch between agents and bust out their unique abilities on the fly. This was especially handy when dealing with situations that called for a long-range approach to thin the herd, and an up close and personal attack to finish the rest off. The developer also hinted that picking your trio of agents will call for a little bit of strategy to ensure a balanced lineup. It was hard to fully experience that with a limited selection, but it will probably take more decision-making when the full team is on deck.
Pictured left to right: Fortune, Hollywood, and Hardtack
Only four of the agents were available to test out during the demo session, but even after time with just a third of the cast, it was easy to see how much each agent differs from the next. Aside from the obvious differences in physical appearances and personalities, each agent is equipped with different weapons, special attacks, and Mayhem abilities. The muscular shotgun-toting Hardtack, for instance, makes up for the limited range of his shotgun by throwing a harpoon that teleports him closer to the enemy. Meanwhile, Hollywood's special Mayhem ability turns the surrounding area into the set of a Michael Bay movie with explosions everywhere.
Even smaller attentions to detail, like Hollywood's ridiculous pelvic thrust that accompanies every grenade launcher shot, makes each agent seem unique in their own special way. That also translates to basic movement as well. The game's double-jump reminds me a lot of Crackdown
in the sense that it encourages a lot of vertical exploration with jumping from rooftop to rooftop, but the feeling of it seems directly connected with which agent you're using. While Hardtack feels more weighted down and sluggish, the dual-wielding Fortune and bow-hunting Rama propel through the air with far more ease.
Agents of Mayhem The animation of Hollywood's Mayhem ability suits the character perfectly
's open-world was described as being denser with content rather than being a massive world to explore. Outside of missions, you'll encounter different LEGION plots unfolding on the streets that will be up to you to sort out. It's hard to judge just how this world will feel to explore since the demo showcased a far more linear designed level. One thing is for sure, though, Agents of Mayhem
is fast-paced with in-your-face wacky action, and we should look forward to the reveal of the remaining agents.