Hands-On Preview: Nosgoth - It's Got Teeth
Vampires suck. As you may have heard Nosgoth is a free-to-play online game where vampires and humans duke it out to prevent each others existence. Every time Nosgoth is mentioned my brain immediate recalls a rich jerk who is killed by bandits then turned into a vampire who later rules the world with ruthless efficiently and a great English accent, such as in Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen.
Even though this isn’t the Legacy of Kain game I asked for, I’ve still found something fairly enjoyable about Psyonix interesting approach to team based multiplayer deathmatches.
While the preview build I got to play didn’t have much in story department, I did find out when Nosgoth takes place. In case you’re wondering, this falls in the Legacy of Kain timeline, it’s the few hundred years between the execution and resurrecting Raziel.
Kain, the vampire ruler of the world of Nosgoth and the main protagonist of the Legacy of Kain series, mysteriously vanished from his kingdom of people-eaters and half capes. In his absence, warring vampires clans attempt to usurp his throne. Meanwhile humanity, who’s had enough with being treated like cattle in the eyes of vampires, launch a war to wipe out the blood-suckers once and for all. This of course forces the vampires to band together to prevent their extinction.
What makes the combat pretty awesome are the two wildly different angles both sides take for battle. Humans are well equipped with bows, guns and fire, where as vampires take a more claws to the face approach. Team Deathmatch actually has you take turns as each race in two first to 30 rounds, which works really well since it forces players to play both races. Starting off, the vampires always seem to steam roll through the humans. The humans don’t really stand chance until the other two classes are unlocked, either through progression or cash.
When you start as a fledgling combatant, you’ll have access to only two classes for each race. The humans get a Hunter, a great all-round classes with a repeater cross-bow, and the Alchemist, who’s devastating area of effect weapons and abilities really do a number to foes stupid enough to cluster together. The vampires end up with a crazy agile Reaver, that can pounce down from a very generous distance, and the lumbering Tyrant, who can literally run over opponents. The vampires mobility, damage and ability to strike from any direction give them an obvious advantage early on in the game at lower ranks.
The advanced classes is where you have the most fun playing. The human Scout has access to some pretty gnarly bows and crazy traps. The Prophet wields dual-pistons and cast curses that impair a vampire’s movement. As cool as traps and witches sound, I think the vampires win in the advances classes with the Sentinel and the Deceiver. The Sentinel is a unit meant to harass and split the other team, and they also can fly. The Deceiver is by far my favorite though — these jerks can mind control humans or even disguise themselves as them! When advanced classes come into the play, the matches are more even-footed and a lot more tense since sloppy play can really cost you the match.
Personally, playing the vampires is a lot more fun. Stalking a human from the rooftops of a burnt out city feels pretty epic. Humans on the other hand feel more like your typical third-person shooter where traditional “stick together” mentality will do you just fine.
A quick side-note, I really enjoy how health is handled. Vampires can slowly regenerate health but can also suck the blood of fallen humans. Humans on the other hand don’t have the luxury of super healing and need to use these stations that are sprinkled throughout each map. Since vampires can be attacked while feeding they have the ability to drag the future corpses so they can dine in peace. The first time seeing a massive Tyrant dragging a fallen comrade away by the leg really does something to team morale — that and losing.
What Nosgoth requires from you is constant communication with your teammates, especially when your playing the vulnerable humans. Wandering off on your own as is an easy way to get nabbed by a flying Sentinel like a hawk preying on a mouse. The vampires work best using hit-and-run tactics and should do anything possible to get the humans to separate. Even as vampires, your team will want to figure out who to try to isolate first and who to avoid. I’ve been in one too many vampire crews that have gotten torn apart by turrets, acid bombs and light grenades.
Like most class-based multi-player games, the trick is to figure the role of your class early and stick with something you like. More support? Stick to a Prophet or a Deceiver. Wanna play like a jerk? Sentinels and Scouts are right up your alley.
You may be curious to know exactly how “free” this free-to-play game actually is. So what’s available? New weapons, skills and skins can be purchased with either your time or your wallet. Similarly to what you would find in something like Blacklight: Retribution, all the items in Nosgoth’s shop are available with seven day or permanent access, which is good if you want to try out a weapon or skill but are too scared to commit.
Though still in beta, I found the rate of acquiring gold to fall a little on slow slide. I’m personally not a huge fan of being able to buy advanced skills early on, as I prefer to unlock them as a I play the game and get better. Naturally, I was disappointed with said slow progression. Every five levels on the class and you get awarded a chest gives you one random ability for that class. It’s something I guess.
Once you get over the heartbreaking fact that this isn’t the spiritual successor to Legacy of Kain you’ve been waiting for, you might find some fun with this unique multiplayer experience. The hunter/hunted dynamic of each match makes for a good time if you don’t mind all the blood. Watch out for Nosgoth later this year.