During our week in San Diego for Comic-Con, we got plenty of hands-on time with High Moon Studios' upcoming Transformers: Fall of Cybertron during Preview Night. Over the course of several hours, we listened to FOC director Matt Tieger talk a little about the team's labor of love and tried both a bit of single-player and multiplayer.
The evening opened with an address from Tieger, during which he announced that Fall of Cybertron would introduce host migration, a feature many War for Cybertron players had asked for. Afterwards, attendees were free to roam the floor and get in some actual play time.
Single-player: Grimlock, Rage!
As excited as we were to try the multiplayer, the single-player demo stations were simply irresistable. Why? Because Grimlock, that's why. The leader of the Dinobots was playable in one of three segments being showcased at the event, and after months of seeing trailers and watching gameplay, we really wanted to try the guy out.
The funny thing about Grimlock that sets him apart from the other Transformers is that he lacks any kind of ranged ability. Instead, this walking tank is armed with a sword and shield, and his transformation is fueled by rage, a resource that builds throughout combat. Interestingly, Grimlock also has numerous melee finishers, some of which let him "consume" enemies for health, a feature meant to offset his high-risk, melee-only style. In this respect, he plays very similarly to Captain Tidus in Space Marine; both are slow and cumbersome, but capture a sense of invulnerability that really empowers the player. If you find yourself surrounded, just break out the flamethrower for some excellent crowd control. Better yet, stomp your enemies and bite their heads off to replenish your health.
Controlling Grimlock is very different from playing any other Transformer, offering another bit of variety to the single-player. You will get to play as both Autobots and Decepticons in FOC, just like in WFC, where the campaign is split up for storytelling purposes. Gameplay will of course vary depending on who you're playing at the time, and the environments are designed in a way to fit a particular character's combat style and vehicle form. During a sequence with Vortex, for instance, the level didn't have much of a solid floor, which allowed us to take full advantage of the guy's chopper-jet form. Folks who played the first game are already familiar with this concept, though High Moon did step things up in Fall of Cybertron by making just about every level bigger, in order to really convey Cybertron's massive scale.
Multiplayer: Class-based Warfare
The multiplayer sections we got to try consisted of competitive modes Team Deathmatch and Conquest (map control). No matter what sort of multiplayer mode you dive into -- competitive or co-op -- Fall of Cybertron allows you to customize your Transformer with a wide range of aesthetic options under colors and parts. Classes are broken down into four: Infiltrator, Scientist, Destroyer, and Titan. If you played WFC, you probably know how these work too, though everyone except Scientists have been renamed in FOC.
Infiltrators are the new Scouts and support a stealthier approach, dropping survivability for higher damage output and agility, not to mention a cloaking ability. Scientists are the support class, armed with a healing beam and deployable turrets; always nice to have in a fight. Destroyers are a high-damage soldier type class and are closely related to the, well, Soldiers of War for Cybertron. Finally, you've got Titans replacing Leaders as the new tank class, Shields and all.
In Team Deathmatch and Conquest, players are split between Decepticons and Autobots. In either mode, teamwork is key, and a balanced team of damage and support is the surest way to victory. The maps we sampled are remniscent of the ones from the first game, which isn't all that surprising considering we're still on Cybertron. A healthy mix of open chambers and narrow corridors open the opportunity for vehicle fights as well as conventional firefights, though even the hallways on Cybertron are fairly spacious and accommodating.
For those of you who missed the memo, Dinobots and Insecticons will be available in multiplayer, but as DLC. We did get to preview these two "races" during the event, but they were locked under the armor customization section. Based on what we saw, we're assuming they'll be available as vanity skins for the existing classes, rather than entirely separate characters.
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron will be out on August 21, after it was recently pushed up a week.