GamesCom 2009: Brutal Legend MP Preview - Metal Themed RTS Action

Dan Webb

Believe it or not, Brutal Legend in fact started out in the concept stages as a multiplayer game, Tim Schafer admitted behind-closed-doors in Cologne. “Brutal Legend was conceived as a multiplayer game first,” the famed game developer commented, “there’s an old SEGA Genesis game called Herzog Zwei which I’ve always loved... and that was a lot of the inspiration for it.” Obviously, things have changed since then and the game will feature a pretty vast single player campaign, but it’s always interesting to see the roots of a game.

For those that aren’t aware, EA and Double Fine’s Brutal Legend tells the story of Eddie Riggs, played by Jack Black, who was zapped into a heavy metal world where humanity has been enslaved by demons. Schafer and co are keen to push the image that the world is reminiscent of falling into a heavy metal album art. Players will have access to three weapons throughout the game; an axe, a guitar which acts as your ranged weapon, and a car – running down people and so forth. That’s where our single player campaign chatter stops, and we start talking about the game’s multiplayer.

If someone had said to me a few months back that Brutal Legend’s multiplayer was essentially an action-orientated RTS, I would probably have suggested you lay off the drugs and would tip the authorities off in an attempt to get you sectioned. My, how things can change in a few months thought and at this year’s GamesCom, we got chance to check out the Brutal Legend RTS style multiplayer in action.

The multiplayer is essentially a simplified version of an RTS skirmish. What do I mean my simplified? Well Schafer told us that there would be “no micromanagement because it really is an action game,” but you will however do the usual RTS things; gather resources, build an army and attack the crap out of one another. The game will feature 7 maps and will allow 1 vs 1’s, all the way up to 4 vs 4’s.

How does it work then? Well the multiplayer, which is actually derivative from part of the single player campaign, will feature stage battles. Players will each have their own stage and they must build an army, harvest resources and upgrade their stage in order to achieve the overall objective... destroying your opponent’s stage. As simple as that.

Players will have to start off by choosing one of three characters; Ironheade AKA Eddie Riggs (played by Jack Black of course) who can summon Headbangers and Razor Girls amongst others; The Drowning Doom AKA Ophelia who can summon Brides and Organists, etc; and finally The Tainted Coil AKA Lord Doviculus who can summon Soul Rakers, Soul Kissers and many more.

Like any RTS, you’ll have the chance to build an army by recruiting warriors but in a cool action orientated twist; your character can combine with them for double team moves by using the Y button. For instance, Eddie can combine with Headbangers and create a mosh pit that will knock back and inflict moderate damage on small infantry, and Ophelia can combine with Grave Diggers to go underground where she is untouchable and can burst out and cause a large explosion. There are unique double teams available for most, if not all, of the game’s different units. Controlling your army is simple and boils down to four basic commands – charge, follow, defend and move. Your troops will fight automatically, so there is no need to be too involved in that sort of sense.

Of course, in true RTS style, in order to build your army up to a decent size, you will need to harvest resources so you can afford them; in this case, fans are the game’s resource and can be harvested from any of the map’s Wild Neutral Fan Geysers. In order to take control of these geysers, your character will need to use infantry to defeat the leech surrounding it before taking control of it by performing a fan tribute guitar solo with your controllable character. A fan tribute guitar solo is essentially a Guitar Hero style QTE mini game (see image below). Some maps may have multiple geysers, but according to Schafer, some will have just one and as expected, there will be a lot of contention over it – sounds hectic.

Unlike most RTS titles, your selected character will be hands on throughout and be fighting down in the arena with your troops. You’ll obviously have full control over them, and they will also have the ability to fly round the map to speed things up a little. A cool feature of the title is how the game uses rally points. Sure you place them wherever you want, but your character can also carry the flag so new troops will automatically make their way over to you. Your main characters will also have certain special abilities at their disposal, a good example of this would be Ophelia’s special power that controls the weather which ultimately makes her troops fight better and her opponent’s fight worse.

At current time Brutal Legend’s multiplayer consists of just the one game mode, although Schafer didn’t rule out additions in the future and was open to ideas. The simplistic RTS multiplayer mode still places a heavy emphasis on the game’s action elements but will look to add a certain longevity to the title that it may not have otherwise had. Playing it to the game’s impressive soundtrack as well only seems to add to the spectacle. The stage battle mode is deep, well thought out and oozes creativity. Whether it will appeal to the action orientated masses though is a question that remains to be seen. I guess we’ll just have to wait until October to find that out.

Brutal Legend will be released on October 13th and October 16th in North America and Europe respectively. The single player Brutal Legend demo is coming September 17th.

  • [Comment deleted]
  • Been looking forward to this game for quite a while.
  • Yeah, me too.
  • rts? ill give it a try I guess
  • wow rts . thats not wat i expected
  • Hope the solo campaign is really really good now to make up for the online play.
  • I might get this game, not 100% sure though.
  • Already preordered. Should be good as i hope.
  • I really don't care about the multiplayer. This game's singleplayer alone makes me want to get this game. The multiplayer is just a bonus. :D
  • cannot wait for this!
  • did not see that coming...but nonetheless cant wait ^.^ jack black ftw
  • Hmmm. . . could be fun to play with friends but guess like the article says we'll wait for October. Regardless its a title I've been slightly interested in and imho it seems like it is a multiplayer game first.
  • Sounds like my kinda multiplayer.
  • I preordered this years ago when it was first announced and then then dropped by Activision. Same with Ghostbusters. The multiplayer isn't the main reason I want this game but it does sound like an interesting and pleasant addition.
  • Well so many games have deathmatch mode it's not worth it unless it's something truly groundbreaking. I quite like the idea of this rts thing, it reminds me of savage
  • Looking forward to this. There is a multiplayer gameplay trailer at
  • H-uh. I was already going to be getting this day one - the single player looks more and more impressive the more I see. I'm not usually a big multi-player person but this actually sounds interesting ...
  • Lookin badass
  • Wow, this game honestly looks really boring. RTS? Wtf?
  • This looks amazing, i didnt think they could do much more to add on to what i already knew about the single player.. but to add RTS to online just makes it a 100% defonate buy the units sound quite unique and very interesting, can't wait to play this. The only problem is i probably wont have enough money by then :( as Im going to get dirt 2 on september 11 then operation flashpoint on October 9 and then just one week later this is released :( DAMN SO MANY GOOD GAMES!
  • Seems interesting!
  • I was kinda afraid when I started hearing about this heavy RTS function a few weeks back, but this looks like my fears might not have been so well founded. The genre just doesn't move over to consoles too well, usually, though it seems like the simplification Schafer and the team have done will work nicely! Pumped for the demo, though!
  • Wait, RTS? I thought this was primarily an action game. Nevermind, then, I may try the demo but I doubt I'll end up buying this.
  • wait its gonna be an RTS like halo wars? that just makes me want to buy this game even more. Now this game officially has everything i want on this game. Action, goriness, Jack Black, lemmy and Ozzy, running over people with your car, killing people with the power of rock, and now a little bit of strategy. cant wait for Rocktober! Its also cool that theres a demo.
  • Interesting take on the multiplayer. I'm open to something new like this, and I'll definitely be playing this game no matter what come Rocktober.
  • I can't decide wether I hate this game or I like it... Since when was Jack Black a rock/metal icon? They should of made it Chris Barnes or something instead
  • #26 have you not watched Tenacious D (the show, the movie wasn't as good)?
  • I can't see anything but best new IP of 09 for Brutal Legend. Can't fucking wait :D
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