By Mohammad Abubakr
Nosgoth is a free-to-play competitive, team-based Humans vs. Vampire first person shooter by Psyonix and Square Enix. Though its hard to categorize into any particular genre, the Nosgoth is probably best described as a third person shooter, just with a much heavier emphasis on melee clashes with most ranged weapons offering limited effective range. This plays into its overall theme of medieval humans versus less technologically advanced but much faster and stronger vampires duking it out with nonparallel classes, all happening for the most part in small intense corridors to add a bit of horror thrill to their unique take on the genre.. The game has recently entered its open beta stages and continues to evolve rapidly, with new classes releasing on almost a monthly schedule. ApocaRUFF has recently covered the release of Nosgoth’s latest class, the Vanguard. Read on for my first impressions of Nosgoth’s open beta state.
Nosgoth is available on Steam and can easily be installed and played with just your Steam account. I really like this feature as I do not have to worry about creating another account and can simply link my Steam account to Square Enix and begin playing. At first I did have problems with the game complaining about my client being out of date and Steam not updating my game. However, a simple restart of the Steam client resolved this problem.
When I had finished updating and launched the game, I was presented with tutorials on both the Human and Vampire factions. These tutorials helped grasp the controls and functions of the human Hunter and vampire Reaver to a point that I was confident enough to jump straight into the PvP from there. There are additional tutorials available though to help you understand each class before going hands-on with them. These tutorials reward users with limited time equipment after their first completion as a bonus incentive to try to keep the uninitiated out of PvP. Not that it’s needed. The tutorials are very high quality and worth doing for every class to make sure you’re not missing any key nuances that might hold back your full potential.
Nosgoth features many tutorials allowing players to pick up and play the game with ease.
After having learned about the Hunter and Reaver, I was interested in what other variety the designers pulled from the Legacy of Kain IP. I quickly realized classes weren’t the only way to set yourself apart though. The in-game store allows players to purchase equipment, perks, skins, boosters, classes, and executions. All of these items, except skins and boosters, can be purchased with both in-game gold and artifacts as well as runestones purchased with real money. Items can be purchased permanently or rented for a week at a cheaper price. I am always against games that sell items with an expiration date, but this is not a big problem in Nosgoth with the option to purchase items permanently. It can be nice to try out items before committing to purchase them, especially when the rental prices are so reasonable.
If you are a frequent reader, you may know that I am also against in-game stores allowing players to purchase items that provide an advantage with real money. I hate to see free players start at a lower level due to not spending money, particularly in games fully focused on competitive arena battles. Games should rely on individual skill and not your willingness (and ability) to spend real money. Developers do need some return on their hard work, and I think that only selling cosmetic items (and boosts are also OK) is the ideal way to earn that revenue without destroying gameplay concepts. If you provide gamers with a fun and fair game, they will spend money.
While equipment and perks can be unlocked with gold, which is earned after every match, classes are only unlockable with artifacts. Artifacts are awarded to players every 5 levels. This system encourages players to spend their gold on equipment and perks instead of saving it all to unlock new classes. It is important to possess equipment and perks that resonate with your playstyle. These classes can also be unlocked with runestones, though you’ll be looking at spending roughly $15 per class. Classes are regularly released with the latest addition being the Vanguard. While there are some parallels between classes, rarely will gameplay on one faction feel similar to something from the other side.
You are able to change your loadout and class after each death.
Getting into an established MOBA type game can be rough if a proper matchmaking system isn’t in place. Thankfully Nosgoth features the New Recruit game mode. This mode ensures that only players under rank 15 play against each other, meaning that you will not have to worry about higher level and more experienced players being present with newer classes. However, users that rush their new class’ advancements and items by paying for them can still participate with a bit of an advantage. It’s not a perfect system but better than nothing.
Talking about game modes, players are able to play Team Deathmatch and Flashpoint in the open beta which pit four humans against four vampires. TDM is available for all players but Flashpoint unlocks at rank 5. Flashpoint is still in its beta stages and is similar to the traditional domination gamemode revolving around point captures. Humans have a limited amount of time to capture all objective points while the vampires work to prevent the humans from doing so. Unlike in TDM, kills do not contribute directly towards victory. In TDM, teams aim to reach 30 kills before the time limit, if no team is able to reach the target within the time limit, the team with more kills is victorious. Games are played in two rounds, allowing each team to play both the human and vampire side to ensure the most skillful team claims victory.
I personally found the Human side more enjoyable. At first I was expecting to enjoy the vampires a lot more but the long ranged style of the humans suited me better. This opinion could change after unlocking more classes but for now, I prefer the humans. Unlike most shooters, the human faction is incredibly reliant on team coordination and combined focus fire. Watching each other’s backs to limit vampire surprise attacks is vital to gaining an upper hand. Unfortunately the open beta did not include functional voice chat, making it impossible to call out incoming attacks when running with a general pug group. Voice chat is shown in the game settings and I expect it to become available by full release.
The alchemist’s attacks remind me of TF2’s demoman.
As a vampire I tended to sneak around and pick off single humans or jump into the fray once they were focusing on other vampires. The available vampire classes were all close ranged but there are additional vampires available that offer long ranged attacks. In all games I play, I prefer to attack from afar and only approach when I see a tactical advantage. Unlike the turtle tactic the humans utilize, vampires work best with scattered hit and run strikes, and can sustain hefty damage so long as someone on the enemy team dies off, since you can feed on their fallen corpse to recover a substantial amount of hp.
Both sides offer different playstyles and surprisingly it comes off as pretty balanced. At first I did find some vampires to be too strong but once you learn their abilities and playstyle, you are able to adjust your own playstyle to combat them. As mentioned above, you are able to purchase new abilities and perks to modify classes. These abilities and perks can aid you in multiple ways such as making escapes, sneaking up on enemies, limiting enemy movement options, and dealing damage.
Reavers can pounce on enemies from great lengths. Their lunge makes them a living missile.
In a game such as Nosgoth, I was hoping to be able to use sound cues to locate and hunt down my enemies. However, I was disappointed as it is very difficult to locate enemies with sound, even with a good headset. The dialogue and sound effects are pretty spot on, but they clearly weren’t designed with improving gameplay in mind. Instead, you must rely on your knowledge of maps and communication with your team to locate and slay enemies.
Overall, the maps are well designed. You can tell that you are in a battlefield between humans and vampires. Health stations are available across the map allowing humans to heal and refill ammunition. As a vampire, you are only able to heal by executing an enemy. Overall the human heal is the stronger of the two options as it isn’t reliant on executing a foe or leaving your guard down while feeding. All maps have quite a bit of vertical elements to them, allowing vampires both surprising angles to launch their attack from, as well as sneaky escape routes that humans can’t efficiently follow. Currently the only downside to their map design is the static nature of them. Maps feel pretty lifeless. The simply addition of environmental sounds, animals, or even weather could make a massive difference in atmosphere.
Vampires can execute fallen humans to restore health.
Conclusion: Potential for greatness
Overall Score: 4/5
In conclusion, Nosgoth is great for a free game that’s just hit open beta. There are some issues present in the game such as lackluster sound, monetization decisions, and maps that feel so dead, even vampires don’t want to visit them. Since the game is still in its beta stages, I hope to see changes to the game before it hits the shelves. Overall the game is very well made and quite fun to play but little additions such as voice chat can make it a lot more fun for groups of friends. With the 4v4 gameplay, group communication can lead to both fun and success. All these improvements would add great support to the rock solid gameplay foundation already present.
I look forward to what Psyonix and Square Enix come up with for the game’s official release.
The game looks good and runs really well, especially for a free to play game. However, looking realistic is not everything when it comes to graphics. The maps could use some improvement in their environmental effects to make them feel more alive.
The controls in Nosgoth are very well done. Every action feels responsive, and I am never limited in my skill due to the controls. The game even offers the option for gamepad support if that is your thing, but the keyboard and mouse is best for these kinds of games.
In the open beta, Nosgoth offers a lot for players. It offers features such as replays and tutorials that are sometimes missing even in full games. Players are also able to view their stats to monitor their progression in Nosgoth. At the moment there are only two game modes which are found in most FPS games. It would be nice to see something unique to Nosgoth’s human vs. vampire combat.
Nosgoth offers a lot of customization for its players. Players can change their weapon, abilities, perks, and even skins. With the regularly added classes, players can play according to their playstyle. I only wish that customization options offering tactical advantages were not purchasable with real money.
In the open beta, it felt like I was playing with AI. Players never seem to communicate and only said “GG” at the end of each match. I think this issue is due to there being no voice communication available in an FPS game. It is very difficult to communicate by typing while in combat, especially since you often have less than five seconds to react to an attack before you’re dead on the floor. This issue should be addressed by launch.