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Platform(s): PC, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: comcept (EU), Armature Studio (US)
Release Date: Sept. 13, 2016


XOne/PC Preview - 'ReCore'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on June 28, 2016 @ 2:30 a.m. PDT

As one of the last remaining humans, forge friendships with courageous robot companions and lead them on an epic adventure through a mysterious, dynamic world.

Pre-order ReCore

ReCore is set on a grim desert planet known ironically as Far Eden. Humanity has come to Far Eden to terraform it into a paradise, but something goes wrong. The protagonist, a woman named Joule, awakens from cryostasis to discover everyone else on the terraforming team is gone, and the robots they brought along to assist have gone rogue and want to destroy her. Her only companion is a robot dog named Mack, the closest thing she has to help on the entire planet. Together, the pair has to figure out what happened to the other humans and why the peaceful robots have turned violent.

Interestingly, describing ReCore as a "third-person shooter" is both accurate and inaccurate. The game doesn't really have traditional shooter elements. Joule's gun locks on to enemies, and accuracy on specific body parts doesn't appear to be a significant part of the gameplay. The focus was on mobility and movement, so the goal is to avoid attacks while piling on the damage. Despite the massive difference in design, it felt more akin to Inafune's previous Mega Man Legends than traditional shooters.

In our demo at E3 2016, we only saw Joule's main weapon, but she can change the color of her gun: blue, red or yellow. Enemies in the game are color-coded by the color of their robot cores. If Joule changes her gun to match the enemy's color, she does additional damage. A fight involves rapidly switching between parts in order to make the most out of the enemy's weaknesses while avoiding their attacks. We didn't get to see any fights against different-colored enemies in the same environment, but we know they'll be part of the final game.

The same applies to her partners. Mack, the robot dog, is the first partner that Joule gets. He's pretty adorable and can seek out objects in the environment and dig them up. He also can use a lethal attack that coats his body with electricity and allows him to ram the enemy for massive damage. However, Mack's core is blue, so he is only truly effective against other blue enemies. There are red- and yellow-cored allies, too. The red partner is a giant gorilla-like creature named Duncan, and the yellow partner is a small stealthy bot named Seti. Swapping partners to deal with different situations is going to be as critical as swapping colors.

Cores are an important part of the game. For example, bosses have prismatic cores that shift between blue, red, white and yellow. Not only does the boss's weakness shift along with its color, but so does its attack pattern. We saw a fight against a robotic spider-like creature called Iron Fang who shifted from red (fast-charging attacks with fire bursts) to blue (laser beams) while fighting Joule. Enemies also drop loot depending on how they're defeated. Destroying enemies makes them drop upgrade material, but a weakened enemy can have its core extracted, which prevents it from dropping loot but gets you core upgrades. Cores must be extracted from prismatic boss monsters, or else they'll just regenerate.

Another interesting element of the combat system is combos. You build up your combo meter by quickly and efficiently attacking enemies with proper-colored attacks while avoiding damage. The higher your combo meter goes, the more damage you do. If your combo meter gets high enough, you can kill them instantly. It's an interesting twist because it really emphasizes fast, efficient combat. You can't beat up enemies and hope for the best; instead, you must focus on keeping your combo multiplier up for the most damage.

ReCoreis also significantly more of a platformer than a lot of modern TPS games. Joule's armor has built-in thrusters that allow her to double-jump and dash around, and this is used both in combat and traversal. The developers said they want the focus to be on speed and ease of play rather than fighting controls, so the game is designed to make platforming challenging and fair. For example, Joule instantly grabs a ledge if she jumps close to it, so there's no danger of falling. The platforming we saw in the demo and trailers looks fairly fast-paced, with hops between tiny falling platforms. Even your robot pals get in on the action, such as Seti being able to grapple on to certain objects in the environment.

All in all, ReCore has the makings of a really interesting game. It's easy to see both Armature and Comcept's heritage in the gameplay, but it isn't directly comparable to anything they've worked on before. There are elements of Metroid,Mega Man and all sorts of other games. If the final game can live up to the interesting gameplay seen in the demos, then it'll be a remarkably fun experience for players of all ages.

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