Bethesda Softworks Shows Off “Hunted: Demon’s Forge” at GDC
During GDC, I got the chance to sit in a room full of journalists who were all about to be shown a new title by Bethesda Softworks that we hadn’t really heard much of anything about. Quietly, they started up their demo and we got pulled into the world of “Hunted”, a return to the Dungeon Crawlers of way-back when games were more about exploration than the “phat lewtz”. As the developers talked to us about how they each enjoyed the titles like Wizardry, Diablo and many others; they explained how Hunted would bring people back into the mindset of those titles.
To be released on PS3, Xbox and PC – the group wanted to make a heavy focus on Co-Op gameplay because they felt that Dungeon games were always much more enjoyable when you had someone else to saddle up with and bring into the mix. As true as that is, I was concerned that their focus on multiplayer would end up just a few thrown in maps and that the game’s strength would still be set on single player campaign. I addressed this and was glad to know that the game’s cooperative gameplay was first intention from the get-go and besides achievement in graphics, this title was MEANT to be for the union of gamers with one another. Featuring a new dynamic in gameplay called “Co-Op at a Distance”, the players can throw healing potions to each other and heal from far away and even assist with fighting from a distance. There’s no tether as you usually have in co-op games, where you can only go within the boundaries of their screen or within calling distance. Not happening here, whatsoever and that opens up the world for much more exploration than previously experienced.
The graphics are exactly what you’d expect from Bethesda Softworks and all the care they possibly could take was drawn in with beautiful dynamic lighting on the Unreal engine. The female lead’s clothing seemed to cling and depress into her skin and the male’s arm wraps seemed taut around his biceps, with the most gorgeous shading I’d seen in awhile. Rich in detail, the enemies also take on an almost wet and disturbing glint in the right lighting, resembling what Orcs looked like in the Lord of the Rings. Honestly, there’s nothing visually jarring about the graphics whatsoever and even though the game is still in-development, they had their visuals in perfect alignment.
Now, this is where I got a bit apprehensive. If this was anyone else, you’d probably not hear about the concerns that one would have for the title. Like I said, there were a lot of people in that small meeting room at the St. Regis and not many asked questions like where I went with it. Now, the two characters you meet are both a female and male lead and both are playable. From when they started out the demo, they wouldn’t tell us too much about the backstory of these characters and just why they were drawn to seeking out this fortune in these dungeons. I literally had no idea. The voice acting was not on-par whatsoever and not a hint of emotional resolve or even life was there in their tones of voice. I was quite disappointed with that, but Adam leaned in and let me know that he felt it might just be the alpha-testing voice work and not final. So, that was diffused. If though, they stick with those voices, be prepared to hear a lot of wooden acting that makes you almost not care if your characters keep going forward. The skill sets are all there though, the magic, melee and ranged attacks that your characters can slide back and forth between without missing a beat will be just as you imagined. However, while the female has the advantage with ranged attacks, your big brute of a guy has advantage over melee. You know, that old chestnut. Why they think females can’t rip people apart with a mace as well as shoot from a hundred yards away? No idea. A lot of cute banter happens while in-game amongst the chosen executions which from my understanding, have no effect on gameplay whatsoever.
As it seems at a glance, it’s a beautifully visual piece of cooperative gameplay that will be endless entertainment between you and your friends online. With a Matchmaker system that takes into account your play style and your requirements, it’s sure to be the most boasted co-op game in the season it comes out. However, don’t expect a deep attachment just yet and certainly don’t expect this title to be the answer to “Why doesn’t God of War have Co-Op?” because it’s not here to answer it. Hunted is here to be pretty and to play with your pals, not change the world.
But here’s to hoping it might just change my mind.