THQ Nordic Brings A Host Of New Experiences to E3 2019
Over the past year, publisher/developer THQ Nordic has been the focus of industry attention for a multitude of reasons, the greatest of which has been the acquisition and continued development of many older or “dead” intellectual properties. In doing so, THQ is providing hope to nostalgia lovers everywhere that their favorite childhood franchise might one day return to their PCs and consoles in a thunderous blaze of glory. Not only is THQ working to continue on where older development teams have left off, they are also working on bringing new and exciting games to the table as well. I had the chance to play three of these games at E3 and each provided an interesting look behind the mysterious THQ curtain.
While I don’t actually know if Airship Syndicate’s Darksiders: Genesis is a direct sequel to Darksiders 3 according to the game’s (convoluted) story, we are finally getting a look at the fourth of the horsemen of the apocalypse: Strife. I had about 20 minutes to play the game and was given the chance to move and fight through a pretty solid sized dungeon as well as fight a much larger boss. Upon first watching the trailer released by THQ last week, my first impression was that this would be much like Diablo 3. After playing the game, though, the only similarity in gameplay seems to be the camera angle. Combat, loot, movement, and much more feels very different from the Blizzard ARPG. Instead, this simply feels like a top-down version of the first installment of Darksiders. Think like Devil May Cry hack-and-slash but from above.
The game ran really well, no technical hiccups, and looked amazing. Combat was fast and clean and I was able to use a wide range of different moves and abilities. One thing that surprised me was that Strife was not the only horseman in play here. I was actually able to tag-team using Strife and War and swap as quickly and as often as I liked. Strife provides the quick dashes, fast knife swipes, and twin revolvers of a rogue archetype, while War provides the muscle. Both were extremely proficient at eliminating enemies and both were a blast to play. I’ll look forward to exploring them more upon release. It is not clear if we’ll see the other horsemen in the game as only Strife and War appear on the promo materials.
One mechanic that really stood out to me was movement. This game is not a simple 2d adventure. There is climbing, jumping, mantling, platforming, hooking and more. All of the movements we’ve seen from past horsemen are here and it makes each area incredibly more interesting. I’m really impressed by what has been created here and am really looking forward to diving in upon release later this year.
Developed by Experiment 101 and published by THQ, Biomutant has been in the back of my mind for years. I believe we saw our first trailer for the game in 2016? I can’t remember exactly, but it’s been a while and it looks like the developers have been hard at work. Biomutant has you create a character that is some sort of genetically enhanced rodent, mammal, fox thing? Your body type, stature, weight, size and more depend on stats that you choose for yourself at the beginning of the demo. You can also choose your characters fur type, length, and primary and secondary colors. I’m really impressed with how fur looked in this game. It moves and sways with you and seems really authentic so nice work there.
I’m not sure exactly what type of game Biomutant is yet. The mood was very “Kung-Fu Panda” in that you are one with the spirit of nature and some sort of blight is encroaching on the world that must be stopped. There were no progression elements in the demo, however. No real XP to speak of, and I don’t think I leveled up at all. I did, however, find a new stone gauntlet that let me punch the lights out of enemies and charge up even bigger nose-breakers. This is very much an action combat game that requires a great deal of movement, dodging, jumping and dashing to stay alive. Enemies hit reasonably hard and are usually numerous with a large variation in enemy type. You have to be quick on your feet and know how each enemy moves and attacks to be most effective. I had melee and some sort of gun at my disposal but the range on the gun wasn’t super far so sniping wasn’t an option. Your character can also spawn some sort of protective goo bubble around themselves. You can’t harm enemies while in the bubble, but they can’t harm you either. Kind of a weird sort of pause on combat that allows you to jump MUCH higher than normal which is useful for traversal.
The final third of the demo was a big shift into a mech suit. Found in a low-oxygen area, the suit allowed me to move around in an area that would otherwise kill me. It was pretty slow-moving, but it allowed me to deal a bunch of damage to enemies, and I was able to weld a rubber ducky helmet (deemed “Duckface”) onto the head so it was all laughs. The final encounter was with a pretty large beast that took quite some time to rocket down. The boss had multiple stages that included some simple dodges, some required hovering, and finally getting fully consumed and having to attack him from the inside. It was pretty awesome.
Biomutant also comes out later this year and I’m eager to see more of what the game looks like 20-30 hours in to see how progression works and how combat evolves over the course of the game.
Destroy All Humans
My little review of this demo is going to have to be taken with a HUGE rock of salt as there are two very important qualifications to understand going into this. First, I never played Destroy All Humans when it first came out in 2005 so I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Secondly, the demo I played was a puny twelve minutes long, so it was really only a speck of a taste of the game. That being said, Destroy All Humans seems to be focused on a much younger audience. There was bathroom humor, the aliens discussed cow nipples more than I would have preferred, and the dialogue was very cartoonish. It is very likely that this is all completely on purpose, but I’m afraid this just isn’t my style of game. If it is, know that the game seems to have been remade very well. The animations are smooth, the abilities look really good, and the physics are great.
What I played felt like the opening minutes of the game, teaching you how to play as your alien, Crypto. I read the minds of cows (they all say “Moo”), I threw them against trees, I sucked the DNA out of a hillbilly farmer and his wife and I vaporized my fair share of policemen. Later the Army showed up and I hopped into my spaceship and started zapping everything that moved. Zapping didn’t feel very weighty at all. Much more point-and-click than I expected, but that’s okay. Like I mentioned, this just isn’t my game type, but for those who were looking to relive the fantasy of destroying humans from the point of view of an angry alien, this is your chance.
Both Biomutant and Darksiders: Genesis look like games I’ll want to play when I can. There’s so much more to them that I didn’t get a chance to try and I’m anxious to see how far they go with progression and customization. Neither of them seem to fall into the looter category that I love so much, but they both look like fun, unique experiences. Destroy All Humans is one I’ll probably skip, but if cartoony people zapping and poop jokes are your tune, then this one is for you!