inXile Entertainment's Maxx Kaufman and Matt Findlay used to play a lot of tabletop roleplaying games and text adventures in their youth... but in their minds' eye, they envisioned a high-octane fantasy adventure that focused on visceral action and eyepopping vistas. Now they've got the chance to make it happen, courtesy of Bethesda and more than a little obvious inspiration from a few other intellectual properties out there. After enjoying their Eurogamer presentation and getting some hands-on time on the show floor, here are my impressions of Hunted: The Demon's Forge.
Hunted is being crafted with three key concepts in mind: cooperative play, cover-based action and reimagining the fantasy genre. Whilst there are plenty of third person shooters and dark fantasy brawlers out there, inXile are planning on merging the two genres and adding one of the most impressive cooperative modes we're heard about in a long time (at least on paper). Players have the choice of two mercenary characters: the burly Caddoc and the scantily-clad elf Elara. As you'd expect, Caddoc excels at shredding and bludgeoning foes to death with melee weapons while Elara specialises in ranged attacks. Well, she is an Elf after all- and some cliches never change.
The two mercenaries are directed to the town of Dyfed by a mysterious spirit who informs them that there'll be plenty of work to do and money to be made. Upon arrival, however, they discover the village in ruins and the abducted by hideous ghouls. Delving into the shadowy bowels beneath Dyfed, the action soon descends into tight corridors and spacious arenas that are strewn with plenty of cover to hide behind. As the sniper, Elara plays much like any standard third person shooter protagonist; needing to avoid close-range engagements and shooting targets of opportunity from cover. As a beefy fighter, however, Carroc can afford to break cover and brutalise foes at short range.
So far so standard. In fact, the action is jarringly reminiscent of Gears of War both in terms of basic mechanics and visual flair, with a selction of SWAT turns and cover rolls to call upon. The left trigger aims. X and Y deal with light and heavy attacks. You know the drill. Don't get too complacent though, because the theme of cooperation goes far deeper than most games we've seen before.
Read on for cooperation and exploration!