Guns of Icarus Online Co-Op Defense
It’s been half a year since we had a chance to check up on Guns of Icarus Online’s ever evolving co-op mode. Upon approaching their booth my first impression was the game’s polish had advanced so far that this had to be a V2.0 I was looking at. To my surprise the Muse Games team pointed out that these with only a couple exceptions, these were the same ships I had played on at previous conventions. They had simply received overhauls, with the most noticeable being the brightening and polishing of their wood frames, making them stand out beautifully in the light of a setting sun.
But before that, a quick history lesson on the path of Guns of Icarus over the past two years, from a small time PvP only team arena battler to a near full fledged co-op MMO. After receiving hefty Kickstarter funding, Guns of Icarus began building out faction concepts, backstory, and plans for eventual quest hub cities. While the road has been long, the framework is at last in place to make this co-op “Online” edition of Guns of Icarus a reality, and there’s no better proof in the pudding than the hands-on demo of their new co-op mission, Defense and Retrieve.
Similar on the surface to the base defense we tested at PAX Prime, Defense and Retrieve puts you and another allied vessel in a gauntlet against a seemingly endless wave of enemy ships and now even planes. Yet unlike the stand your ground style of the previous mode, you’ll need a daredevil captain to push straight through the zerg rush to stop a series of explosive vessels from bee-lining to a distant base. If even one vessel reaches its destination, its lights out for your mission, so often its better to go down in flames a few times, then let the enemy progress unhindered.
Mere moments after getting into the seat of the only class I’m all that familiar with, Locke the Engineer class, I was blown away by the swarms of rickety new warplanes darkening the skies. I had imagined they would send one or two of these at us at a time, but a tight formation of eight right at the start was more than my ship was ready for. We barely managed to snipe two down before the remaining six circled so closely around our vessel that two more actually crashed into us, leaving our ship riddled with bullets and just about every interactive component on fire. My fellow Engineer was clueless, and I was far too out of practice to navigate the ship fast enough to react to this assault. Just when we thought we had some semblance of control on the situation, a massive vessel I believe to be a Goldfish class broadsided us. Honestly its hard to say as we went down in flames faster than I could take it all in.
After two more miserable pointless deaths, our captain, who happened to be a developer, went all Blackbeard on our scallywag crew to shape us into somewhat of a functional team. As soon as everyone had a grasp on their roll and their equipment, things went much smoother. By that I mean our fireball of a ship somehow produced enough heat to keep our bullet hole riddled balloons airborne long enough to cause some serious damage to the enemy fleet, and get hot on the tail of the four flying suicide ships we needed to crush. In a brief moment when most adjacent enemy vessels were down, we managed to get an angle where all four members of our crew could snag a cannon or turret to obliterate three out of the four targets.
That’s when the skies became a living hell, as was the style at the time. I remembered our talk at PAX Prime about Muse Games’ vision of co-op missions that scaled reactively to the performance of the players. Well apparently sinking three of the four targets in under a minute sent a big reg flag to the AI systems that we needed an armada on our ass to keep things interesting. Before we caught up to the final target, we found every nook and cranny in the wide canyon home to an enemy airship, slinking out of the rocks like a bunch of damned eels ready for prey. The sound or warplanes filled the skies, which I imagined was a horrifying sight. Though had I wasted enough time to take the whole scene in, our vessel would have exploded, as all hands on deck were forced to furiously slam our wrenches and spray our fire extinguishers at every inch of the craft to keep going.
I don’t know how, or when someone in our crew had the balls to make a dash for a turret and risk everything to fire on the final vessel, but to my surprise the victory screen flashed. Seemingly our allied ship had painted a target on themselves hard enough to draw enough fire away to give us the opportunity to end the battle!
Overall impressions of the new mode is it adds a much needed element lacking from the PvP battles in Guns of Icarus Online. At last the feeling of an airborn chase sequence can be felt, and ship Captain players should be overjoyed to get this ultimate test of their skill and ship customization. Gunners can join in for the pure rush of shooting at a sky where odds are more likely to hit a target than miss with each shot. And if you’re an engineer and love hitting things with a wrench like an angry escaped circus ape, well you are in luck. Guns of Icarus seemingly has yet another powerful adrenaline rush under its belt, and its journey to becoming a fully fledged MMO is one step closer.
Want to see the action yourself? Keep an eye on MMOHuts Youtube for a special demo of this hands-on battle later this week.