Perfect World Entertainment is best known for its strong lineup of free-to-play Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs), including my personal favorite, Neverwinter. This year, the publisher will release its first non-F2P, non-MMO game on consoles and PCs: Livelock from Montreal-based developer Tuque Games.
Livelock is futuristic co-op shooter in which a trio of android-human hybrids must prepare the ruined Earth for the return of the human species. The battle won't be easy though, as three malignant AI factions have taken over our former home world. At PAX South last week, we played Livelock and spoke with the developers about their sci-fi shooter. Read on for full impressions and video interview!
The end of humanity
Livelock's story was co-created by Robocalypse author Daniel H. Wilson. I haven't read that one, but this game's story certainly sounds intriguing. In the far future, a cataclysm threatens to kill destroy all life on Earth. Humanity has only ten years to prepare. It isn't enough.
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.
Their job is to return 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.
Battle for the ruined world
In Livelock, players will select one of three distinct characters with which to fight. Each of these has unique abilities, strengths, and personalities. Seeing as how Livelock is a three-player game, it would be unfortunate if everyone had to play as a different character. Luckily, more than one person can choose the same robot.
The character we got to test drive during the preview was Hex, the Marksman. He has three distinct powers that make him play differently from his fellow soldiers: he can dash, cloak, and temporarily go into "overdrive," inflicting extra damage. The dashing, in particular, makes Hex a very fast character to play. He can easily run from danger or position himself behind an enemy for assassinations.
Players can equip a variety of weapons before heading planetside, switching between them during the fight. We wielded a fast-action plasma rifle, a powerful shotgun, and a gun that lobbed explosive projectiles in an arc. Melee attacks help deal with enemies that invade your character's space.
Defeated enemies drop materials that players can spend on upgrades between missions. Potential upgrades include increased damage, ammo recharge rate, rate of fire, and more. The upgrade system should allow players to find weapons they like and continue to use them throughout the game, much like in Helldivers.
Characters will also level up as they complete missions. One of the game's development goals is to allow new players and experienced players to team up effectively. Even though a higher-level player will have unlocked more weapons and customizations, both players will have similar damage output and health counts.
An endless war approaches
The campaign consists of three distinct acts, each with multiple levels to fight through. Many levels end with boss battles – we faced off against a screen-filling robot monstrosity during our session. The campaign offers three difficulties with progress shared across difficulties. Progress also carries over to the "Open Protocol" mode, which offers an unlimited assortment of procedurally-generated levels. Thus, you get the endless replay value of Helldivers combined with an actual story mode – the best of both worlds.
Livelock will definitely support single-player and 3-player online co-op modes at launch. Perfect World can't confirm local co-op support yet, but hopefully that feature will make the cut as well. We'll find out when the game arrives on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC sometime in 2016.