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Hunted: The Demon's Forge
Gamescom 2010: Hunted: The Demon's Forge Hands-On Preview - Co-Op Adventuring
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Last March, inXile’s CEO, Brian Fargo, told us that the developer was looking to create one of the true great dungeon-crawlers with their early 2011 title, Hunted: Demon’s Forge. After inexplicably slipping through our fingers at E3 this year, we managed to finally get some hands-on time with the title at this year’s Gamescom to see whether it really had the legs to be a truly great dungeon-crawler. With little to no competition in this specific genre on consoles, inXile should be primed with a great opportunity.

We kicked off our hands-on taking control of the meatier of the two main characters, Caddoc, as we played through the opening moments of the game with a co-op buddy who took hold of the spritely E’lara. After stopping for a moment to take in the sights of the epic vistas that surround our two on the surface of the planet Dyfed, we work our way through the basic controls before we enter our first arena. Incidentally, the game is designed in that way, with arena after arena standing between the pair and their road to victory.

Not only do you learn how to aim, attack and recharge your mana - which simply requires you hit a batch of the blue crystals that litter the surface of Dyfed - in the opening moments, but after a short investigation of a key item of interest - the Death Stone - the two main characters can now speak to the dead, which becomes a source of various side quests along the way.
 
 
The first arena looked to show off the strength of the battle charge, as a skeleton warrior sat on a turreted weapon that began to overwhelm us with fire, making it abundantly clear that ranged weapons were the way forward here. The battle charge is Hunted’s way of keeping the co-op gameplay at the forefront of the proceedings, as it allows you to make one another’s attacks a lot more powerful, adding all kinds of magic effects to them. A quick charge of E’lara later, with Caddoc keeping guard, and the barrage of electrically charged arrows was enough to clear the first stage of the arena, leaving just a frantic finish to be had. It was Caddoc’s turn to shine here and taking up the reigns of the turret, we obliterate the undead skeleton army that starts to swarm out of a few of the arena’s portals. A few carefully placed shots later with the large turret though and the portal spawning endless waves of foes were closed and it was time to move on.

Moving into the swamp area, the players are greeted with the chance to partake in a side quest by talking to a sprit who offers clues to find a lost weapon that was lost in the area many years ago. After scouring the swamp area and seeing off the various beasts that attacked us, we came across the Axe of Delaine, a powerful unique weapon that’s only usable by Cadddoc.

It’s clear from the opening moments of Hunted: Demon’s Forge’s combat scenarios that the game has been designed as a co-op experience from the ground up. From the off, if you don’t work together and play to your character’s strengths, you may come unstuck, after all, there is a reason why Caddoc and E’lara are a brawler and a ranged specialist respectively.

“Co-op at a distance” was a line that inXile were keen to push back on its first showing way back in March and it definitely excelled on that front here, with both of us reviving one another from the other side of the level should we get downed and using a battle charge to add special abilities to one another’s attacks - charging E’lara for instance means her ranged attacks will provide shock damage as well as normal damage. As long as you can see one another, then you can assist one another; that’s the general mantra. Something that other co-op developers should really take note of.
 

On the face of it, Hunted is your traditionally developed third-person Unreal driven game, but this time, you’re trading bullets for arrows and Caddoc trades chainsaw-Lancers for a whole host of monstrous melee weapons. The melee combat unfortunately isn’t very complex and so those controlling the testosterone fuelled Caddoc may find themselves button mashing in no time, which is hardly an enthralling experience. After you’ve mashed the light and heavy attack buttons a few times, you start to realise how shallow it really is. E’lara on the other hand, is a little more entertaining to get hold of, using the cover, plenty of magic and her bow - which locks on ever so slightly, when you use the iron-sight - to dispatch the undead armies. Being able to seamlessly switch characters with your partner at various intervals though will come as a welcome change, especially for those controlling Caddoc.

I find it interesting that inXile are keen to label it a dungeon-crawler, when I was under the assumption that looting was a key ingredient of said genre. The inXile rep on hand did state that there were indeed many unique character specific items to collect along the way, but only being able to hold 2 of each weapon type makes it seem like it doesn’t know what it wants to be. According to the rep on hand, there is now more character customisation woven into the game, which is fantastic news considering that a few months back it wasn’t looking good for this aspect, so let’s hope they truly assess the looting aspect and revamp that further.

At present time, there isn’t anything truly awe-inspiring about Hunted’s combat, which inXile puts so much emphasis on, but we’re still intrigued to see more of the exploration and puzzle aspects, something which is said to make up 30% of the overall game. That for us is still the title’s unique selling point. The Gamescom 2010 demo gave us a brief look at the combat, but I fear on that alone, the title will be nothing more than a generic hack-n-slash title with a very rudimentary combo system. With huge sprawling environments though and plenty of puzzling, it could well be enough to make Hunted: Demon’s Forge an essential purchase for early next year. With the competition it will have though during that release period, it’s really got to deliver on those fronts or it could be destined to fall by the wayside.

Hunted: Demon’s Forge is scheduled for an early 2011 release.



 
 

User Comments

Forum Posts: 18
Comment #1 by S q u e e t l e
Sunday, August 29, 2010 @ 12:00:48 PM
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Looks promising!


Forum Posts: 150
Comment #2 by TheZombieReaper
Sunday, August 29, 2010 @ 12:01:18 PM
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Can't wait even though I just heard about it


Forum Posts: 128
Comment #3 by dark wing
Sunday, August 29, 2010 @ 12:03:47 PM
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I forgot about this shame about the combat but it does sound quite good.


Forum Posts: 2
Comment #4 by shawnkarl_05
Sunday, August 29, 2010 @ 12:10:57 PM
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thats a must buy


Forum Posts: 41
Comment #5 by piedudething
Sunday, August 29, 2010 @ 12:16:48 PM
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This used to be a must buy for me but then I saw actual gameplay of it. They claimed it to be a Dungeon Crawler like Baulder's Gate and it looks and plays nothing like it. I'm pissed as hell because I was looking forward to another Dungeon Crawler. Figures this would come from Bethesda.


Forum Posts: 12
Comment #6 by Epic Gamer Will
Sunday, August 29, 2010 @ 12:29:22 PM
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Mr Webb when will you learn :D


Forum Posts: 49
Comment #7 by II IcE RiflE II
Sunday, August 29, 2010 @ 01:18:08 PM
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When will Bethesda stop creating new games and concentrate on a new elder scrolls?


Forum Posts: 20
Comment #8 by SHIMA 41
Sunday, August 29, 2010 @ 01:30:39 PM
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I'll be watching this to see how it turns out :)


Forum Posts: 18
Comment #9 by CKresAIX
Sunday, August 29, 2010 @ 01:39:19 PM
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@7 Bethesda isn't creating The Demon's Forge, Bethesda is the publisher. The studio who is creating the game is InXile. It's the same with Brink. Splash Damage is the developer, Bethesda the publisher. And I'm pretty sure Bethesda as a games developer will very most certainly bring us a new Elder Scrolls installment, it's just a question of time when it will be announced/released.


Forum Posts: 18
Comment #10 by Vasilij Zaitzev
Sunday, August 29, 2010 @ 02:06:59 PM
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Publisher or developer, Bethesda's got alot going on right now!


Forum Posts: 6
Comment #11 by Bash Callihoo
Sunday, August 29, 2010 @ 02:22:16 PM
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Well that's a damn shame, I was looking forward to seeing how this was going to turn out. Well anyways, thanks for the preview Webb.


Forum Posts: 35
Comment #12 by Hobbes.
Sunday, August 29, 2010 @ 02:36:25 PM
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oh come now they make this but they wont announce elder scrolls V. this might be good but i really want esV


Forum Posts: 0
Comment #13 by Acid Mother
Sunday, August 29, 2010 @ 03:04:32 PM
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I was genuinely interested in this game until I realized it's a HACK-N-SLASH, not a dungeon crawler like they originally said. Not once in the article does "skill tree" even come up, LOL.

So, in summary:
Hack-N-Slash
2 playable characters
Not a whole lot of loot

Anyone else thinking "pass"? I can wait for Diablo 3 anyway, reading up on the crafting systems makes my brain ooze. Yes, ooze.


Forum Posts: 0
Comment #14 by Acid Mother
Sunday, August 29, 2010 @ 03:06:25 PM
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Just realized that it's scheduled for an early 2011 release as well. LOL. So now it's looking more like it was shoved out the door so it doesn't interfere with that OTHER big, badass dungeon-crawler that comes out that year, hahaha.


Forum Posts: 584
Comment #15 by Captain Urahara
Sunday, August 29, 2010 @ 03:49:13 PM
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Agree with #13

I'm going to pass.


Forum Posts: 7
Comment #16 by TaulPaul15
Sunday, August 29, 2010 @ 05:46:09 PM
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sounds interesting. i hope the combat turns out better than they make it seem. ill check it out anyway


Forum Posts: 0
Comment #17 by CheesyToast111
Sunday, August 29, 2010 @ 06:20:52 PM
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@9 If you look Bethsda have got little actually in development themselves, as Fallout is being developed by another company, hinting that maybe they could have started on Elder Scrolls 5, but I highly doubt it will be announced or released for a long time.

This game could be good, wait until I see some gameplay, and when a release date is decided


Forum Posts: 14795
Comment #18 by Webb [STAFF]
Sunday, August 29, 2010 @ 07:34:08 PM
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@#13 - In Hunted's defense, in a relatively short hands-on that starts from the beginning of the game, it's hard to show off the skill trees and such - if there are any, I can't quite remember tbh (it'll probably say in the preview we ran in March if anything, check the archive).


Forum Posts: 19
Comment #19 by glitch12
Sunday, August 29, 2010 @ 11:58:17 PM
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could be one to at least watch for


Forum Posts: 1
Comment #20 by Knazt
Monday, August 30, 2010 @ 02:39:54 AM
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I also played the Demo on Gamescom in coop with a frient, we both are no Fantasy fans but after the Demo we´ve put this on our must have list!
Don´t know about the AI but for coop players this will be fun


Forum Posts: 3
Comment #21 by Skar46137
Monday, August 30, 2010 @ 06:29:03 AM
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Big swords, big boobs, big ugly monsters to slaughter. I like. Will at least rent it.


Forum Posts: 52
Comment #22 by Blud
Monday, August 30, 2010 @ 08:11:55 AM
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From the review, it seems like this game needs some changes to make it really good. Since it's co-op, I'll keep it on my list of games to watch for. Not first day material, but I'll likely get it when the price comes down.


Forum Posts: 291
Comment #23 by ViNyLek
Monday, August 30, 2010 @ 02:35:00 PM
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It's like you said. Sounds okay, but does not really stand out at this point. Will have to wait and hope they can deliver on all the promises clsoer to release.


Forum Posts: 25
Comment #24 by dunderdolt
Monday, August 30, 2010 @ 11:50:53 PM
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I might still be busy with Two Worlds II, Arcania: Gothic 4, Fallout: New Vegas and Fable III.

It seems less like a Western, open-world RPG than I had imagined based on earlier descriptions.


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US May 31, 2011
Europe June 03, 2011

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