Early Access: Core Blaze Part 1
By Darren Henderson (DizzyPW), OnRPG Editor-In-Chief
Core Blaze was left for the final hour of the final day of the Gamania Gameshow. You could tell from everyone within the company that this was supposed to be it; this was the game that would burn the name Gamania into the minds of the western gaming world. As we stood outside the red brick walls a river of over 100 Asian press came streaming out of the tiny building. It's still a bit of a mystery to us how so many managed to fit into the tiny room prepared for us!
When it comes to game immersion the team at RedGate Studios took the literal route. The circular walls around the gaming room were made of projector screen and we soon found ourselves right in the center of the action in a living world. For anyone familiar with the King Kong ride at Universal Studios, it was kind of like that!
After the dazzle and showmanship was over, we were thrown without warning into the game to experience it for ourselves. This game is built on the Unreal Engine 3 I have been making a big deal about on the website over the past couple months. For those who don't understand why it is a big deal, this is the same engine being used by Bluehole Studios to develop TERA Online, a next generation live-action MMO set to change the way people look at MMOs. Until the Gamania Gameshow I had viewed TERA Online as untouchable in the action MMO world. With the introduction of Core Blaze, it now has competition.
I was paired up with 2 members of the Canadian press and one of the beautiful showgirls to take on the challenging dungeon set up for us. Each of us took on a different role to make a balanced team:
I took up the sword and shield and fought on the front line of the team. By actively raising my shield with L2 (on the controller) I was able to absorb massive focus fire while remaining unscathed. I could also attack while defending, using great amounts of stamina to throw my shield into enemies and render them temporarily dazed. My one-handed sword also proved useful for landing finishing blows on enemies that my allies had weakened, though it would leave me quite vulnerable and had to be used sparingly.
My rivals in the press took up the bow and great sword as their weapons of choice. The bow provided devastating long range attacks but made him quite vulnerable if he found himself out of place on the front line. Still the bow was vital against the dungeon's bosses who used powerful melee range magic to completely negate any offensive charge on my shield and sword warrior.
The other member of the press with the broad sword was able to truly feel the weight behind his weapon. It was tremendously slow to wield but could bring a battle to a crushing halt with a single well timed attack. His riskiest skills involved daring airborn strikes that would leave him complete vulnerable afterward but, ideally, leave nothing left alive to harm him. This class in unison with the sword and shield warrior was a deadly combo as the offensive force of the board sword followed by the defensive stance of my character was too much for any foes in the dungeon demo to handle.
Our showgirl took up arms as the dual wielding swordswoman. This was by far the most agile of the characters and offered furious attack bursts and few openings for the AI. As a solo class I would imagine this is the top weapon of choice.
Class System.. Or Lack Of?
In fact there are no set classes in Core Blaze. You can take up arms and train yourself separately in any of the 4 weapons' disciplines at your leisure. Naturally if you focus on one weapon, you will become more adept in using it. However its perfectly viable to become a master of all of them and support your friends with your versatility. Currently there are no plans to allow you to switch weapons within an instance though, so once you select a weapon you are in for the long haul.
Some of the more astute MMO players will notice something missing in this line up though. Hmm..
Figure it out yet? There's no staff or wand wielder in this game. Yea no magic and no focused healer to watch your back in Core Blaze. Players are heavily reliant on hp potions and the sword and shield wielder's limited aoe heals to keep themselves alive. This made the combat incredibly dynamic as at no time do you find yourself only focused on damaging the enemy. Your hp bar is constantly on your mind and evading/blocking every attack is the difference between life and death.
Death and Teamwork
Death is a very looming reality in this game as well! Not only are the monsters cunning and calculated in their team oriented assaults, but environmental hazards like fire and pits loom around every corner. At one part of our instance run we were forced to navigate across a gaping hole by clinging to the side of a cliff and climbing across to the other side.
Unfortunately once we reached the half way point and were stationed upon a small ledge, undead archers began to open fire on us from the other side of the cliff face. One of my allies attempted to rush across the gap but was quickly shot off the ledge, falling to his death (fall damage is back. Deal with it!). The archers then focused on me, and I was able to use my shield to deflect numerous arrows while our broad sword warrior climbed across the ropes, jumped up a huge gap between ropes, and slammed the archers over the side of the cliff face, clearing the way for the rest of our team.
This is just one instance of team related content forcing players to work together. In another area of the world, players must scale a windy cliff face with a rickety old ladder. This is impossible to do solo but if one player steadies the ladder, the other can climb to the top. Then the player at the top can steady the ladder while the other player climbs up to meet them. Of course should someone stab the player on top in the back during this process, well, enjoy your free fall!
I got pretty carried away with writing this article and realized i was well over 2,000 words into it before I even started slowing down. So I'm going to leave you guys hanging and return tomorrow with part 2 of Early Access: Core Blaze!