Legacy of Kain was a franchise that was ahead of its time. Its storyline was complex for the games of the time, and the writers, including future Uncharted scribe Amy Hennig, crafted a strange gothic world. Unfortunately a number of situations caused the final game in the series, Legacy of Kain: Defiance, to end with a cliffhanger. Nosgoth, named after the world in which Legacy of Kain was set, revisits the franchise. Die-hard fans may be disappointed that it isn't the conclusion they had hoped for, but there is room for a new fan base to flourish.
Nosgoth is set in the 1,000 years between the end of Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen and the beginning of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. Kain, the lord of the vampires, has begun a campaign to rule humanity. He and his vampire lieutenants are sweeping across the land to make humans submit to him. Only elite human soldiers can stand against him, and they're armed with special anti-vampire weapons. The two sides wage a war for the fate of humanity — and Legacy of Kain fans know the inevitable outcome.
Nosgoth is a team–versus-team deathmatch shooter that might feel odd to those who are more familiar with the action/RPG stylings of the original Legacy of Kain games. The two teams are the humans and the vampires, and each team has multiple classes. Humans feel more familiar; their weaponry is a recognizable mix of medieval anti-vampire and steampunk technology. Crossbows, flamethrowers, grenade launchers, pistols, shotguns and the like make up the bulk of the human arsenal. Each class also has specific weaponry. The alchemist can throw vials that blind enemies or set them on fire. The hunter has grenades and disabling bolas, and so on. Humans are a departure from modern shooters in that their health doesn't regenerate. Taking damage means you need to find healing items or be healed by another character, making you quite vulnerable to repeated attacks.
On the other hand, vampires have a lot of straightforward advantages. Unlike humans, they regenerate health when damaged and are far more welcoming to hit-and-run tactics. To match this, they're also capable of climbing walls and pouncing, giving them significantly more mobility than their human counterparts. They also have special abilities that can alter how they play, depending on their class. Titans are big, strong and capable of devastating frontal assaults. Deceivers can mimic humans or control their enemies' minds. The Sentinel has almost unrestricted free flight, so you can zoom around the stage and swoop down to grab an enemy, carry him into the air and drop him to his death. Targeting is pretty difficult, but if you manage a hit, you've almost certainly wrecked an enemy's day.
The core concept of Nosgoth is that the two sides fight to the death. Humans have the advantage of range and damage output, and their weapons and abilities allow them to work together to destroy any vampire in moments. However, they also have greater weaknesses. Individually, they're more vulnerable, easily damaged, and need to find weapon caches to resupply. Humans must watch each other's backs since the most powerful vampires can be lethal in wide-open areas due to their mobility and close quarters due to their strength and speed.
Character classes are customizable with different weapons and abilities, which are earned by leveling up. The alchemist may begin with a flashbomb vial but can get healing mist or other cool special abilities. Weapons also can be upgraded into new equipment, although the full extent of those upgrades wasn't apparent in our E3 2014 demo. Altering your abilities can drastically alter your play style. A vampire with mind-control powers may have to give up another strong power to use it. This makes them far more useful in a team but less useful on their own. For instance, a vampire who is controlling a human is vulnerable and can't do much damage.
In the demo, there's a noticeable imbalance between the two class types. Humans are strongly encouraged to work together and combine their skills, but each vampire is significantly more powerful and deadly on his or her own. The matches almost always went in favor of the vampires. It isn't impossible for humans to win, but they must rely heavily on teamwork. If you encounter a group of vampires who work together, they're almost unstoppable. The game is still at an early stage, and there is time for balancing to occur.
Nosgoth has the potential to be a solid shooter for fans of the genre. It brings to mind Left 4 Dead's asymmetrical humans-versus-zombies mode but with a more straightforward emphasis on player-versus-player combat. It may not be the Legacy of Kain game that fans were hoping for, but if you can overlook that, the gameplay has a lot of fun potential. It's scheduled to be released as a free-to-play title and is currently in closed beta. The exact release date has not been set, but interested players can keep an eye out for beta sign-ups.
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