In January, Perfect World Entertainment (maker of Neverwinter) announced a sci-fi twin-stick shooter called Livelock for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Steam. The game has progressed nicely since then, with all three playable characters and a brand new level available at PAX East. Read on for our impressions and video with fresh interview and gameplay!

Future fight

Livelock Vanguard screenshot

Approximately 150 years in the future, a cosmic Gamma Ray storm threatens to kill destroy all life on Earth. Humanity has only ten years to prepare. That doesn't leave them time to save everybody, or even more than a handful of people.

After the cataclysm, humanity is indeed wiped out. Far above the Earth, a satellite activates a trio of humanoid robots. Downloaded into these forms are the minds of three humans – the last remnants of our great species.

The job of these cybernetic survivors is to descend to the planet surface and prepare it for life to return. But that won't be easy, as the machines left on the Earth have been corrupted by the cataclysm. They now rule as three factions, and our heroes will have to wipe them out if humanity is ever to be restored.

Lock and live

Livelock Vanguard screenshot

In Livelock, players will select one of three distinct characters with which to fight. Each of these has unique abilities, strengths, and personalities. Back at PAX South, only one character – Hex the all-around Marksman unit – was ready for play. Fast forward to PAX East and the remaining two heroes, Vanguard the Tank and Catalyst the Support class are both ready for action.

This time I played as the hulking Vanguard. He can switch between three weapons at will: a short-ranged shotgun with a wide spread, a powerful mine launcher whose projectiles explode on impact or when walked over, and a massive hammer. The hammer requires Van (as his friends call him) to get in close to attack, but it doesn't need ammunition like the other weapons.

Livelock Vanguard screenshot

Guard (as his step-relatives call him) also has three special abilities, each mapped to its own button. The most useful is probably the shield, which protects from frontal damage for a short time. On the offensive spectrum, he can shake the ground in front of him to stun enemies. And back on defence, the final move will aggravate enemies and boost his damage resistance in order to take the heat off the rest of the team.

Livelock's campaign consists of three acts with a total of 24 story levels. The level we played this time started out in a ruined city strewn with wreckage. As our team of three progressed through the area, we eventually reached a large industrial building. Inside, we battled evil robot forces, collected power cells from fallen machines, and knocked down destructible walls.

After battling a sizable mechanical miniboss, we reached the end of the level. There we spied the Collector, one of the game's main baddies and not be confused with Benicio Del Toro's character from Guardians of the Galaxy. So named because collects pieces from other machines to enhance his powers, the Collector sees himself as an agent of destruction. Our heroes will try to reason with him over the course of the game, but it looks like a physical confrontation might be required to stop his plans…

Upgrades and looking to the future

Livelock Vanguard screenshot

In addition to the campaign, Livelock features a sizeable Open Protocol Mode. The missions there will extend the life of the game without being bound by the story. An endless Survival mode will challenge players to destroy as many enemies as they can before dying. The enemies and minibosses players face in Open Protocol mode will be procedurally generated, so you never know just which challenges you'll face. Upgrade materials and cosmetic items should entice players to attempt these harder missions.

Up to three players can cooperative locally or online, which naturally makes surviving hordes of malevolent robots much easier than going solo. Playing with more or less experienced players shouldn't be a problem, either. Livelock's upgrade system works similarly to that of Helldivers. Upgrades don't necessarily make one character more powerful than another, just different. That way, even a beginner can hold his or her own alongside veteran Livelockers.

Livelock will come to Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Steam sometime in 2016. We'll let you know as soon as it secures a solid release date.

Marksman, Tank, or Support class – which one sounds like your class of choice, dear gamers?