Gamescom 2012: Sacred 3 – Digging Up the Past
Written Friday, August 31, 2012 By Lee AbrahamsView author's profile
Do you remember all of those hours you poured into Sacred 2: Fallen Angel? Tens, maybe hundreds, spent in the pursuit of fame, glory and some good, old fashioned loot? Well all of that means sod all now. Your character is dead. DEAD WE SAY! Merely consigned to the dusty graveyards of nine hundred years past, with all of your former glories long forgotten. Well not quite, as dusty relics and legends remain to remind players of times gone by. Plus, you get the thrill of amassing a giant pile of loot all over again and who doesn’t love that?
Creative Producer Alex Toplansky was on hand, yet again, to run us through the newest entry to the franchise. He explained that the first issue they had was as a result of the success of the predecessor, “Players poured so many hours into Sacred 2 that they literally ran out of things to do, so when we started looking at Sacred 3 we wanted to find something that resonated, and that thing seemed to be multiplayer.” With the new game offering the chance for up to four players to fight alongside each other in a drop in, drop out capacity then that seems to be the big focus with AI stepping into your partners shoes so you are never fighting alone. “Sacred 3 is built around an outstanding, exemplary, co-op experience which is something we’ve worked really hard to perfect,” Toplansky states. “By allowing players to create their own experience with friends, we can really reward them for playing together.”
Of course having a multiplayer component is nothing new, even for Sacred, and Toplansky admits that is not the be all and end all fix, “Multiplayer alone isn’t going to solve everyone’s problems, as sometimes it becomes a little less about us and a little more about me.” Still he thinks that the character variety and plethora of skills and ways to use them can help to create what he refers to as “Co-op artists” as players learn to work together to overcome adversity. “We want to give players tools that can be used in a huge variety of different ways. So that people can do things they way they want to do it, with their own combat style and unique signature,” Toplansky goes on to say, “By finding ways to make their experience more interesting and the ways they interact more meaningful then we can do some really cool stuff.”
Showing off a couple of the character classes, we're introduced to the Safiri Warrior, a burly, tank style fighter who can also call upon the power of the Sun to aid him in battle. Alongside him is a sultry Ancarian Lancer who, as well as being a dab hand with a spear, can also summon Earth based powers to aid herself. Each class, Toplansky notes, “Will bring a lot to the table in terms of their skills and abilities.” Though the beauty of the game is that no two classes will play in exactly the same way as one another. Depending on how players choose to level up and assign their skills, two of the same character could have massively disparate abilities. As Toplansky points out, “While we will have set number of cultures within those there are so many ways to load out these character in terms of combat arts, perks, weapons, armour and some other things I can’t talk about, that you can really define your own role.”
To the story then and it's typically grandiose RPG fare. An ancient relic, the Heart of Incaria, keeps the realm safe from evil but is currently under threat. “A lot has changed in the thousand years since the first game,“ Toplansky says with a smile. “The great events are now the stuff of legend and a great evil empire has appeared that threatens the existence of many civilisations.” Called together by the Heart itself, a band of heroes must unite to bring down this evil.
Showing off the combat, Toplansky states that button mashing is a possibility, but when things get hectic that simply won’t cut it. Players have a range of Combat Arts that can swing the tide of battle and clever players will quickly learn to chain them together with friends for massive damage. “We wanted to create a deeper experience so that players are discovering nuances dozens of hours into the game,” Toplansky states, as a foolhardy opponent is cleaved in two. “To do this we wanted more action rather than pure numbers, so it puts that sense of interest and control back into players hands.” The series certainly seems to have stepped away from the statistic driven end of the RPG spectrum and instead has a more action orientated approach. The reason for this, according to Toplansky is down to giving players a sense of reward. “There is a fleeting sense of reward for, say, getting a new item. I’m going to take that new +6 sword into battle and see that the damage numbers have gone from 200 to 206. Wow, bravo to me right?” Instead they want players to spend time learning the nuances of the game itself rather than scrounging for slightly better weapons.
Watching the team blitz through a variety of foes is a good indication of where things are heading. The two man team are rewarded for using co-op moves on foes, so the more the team works together, the more they are passively rewarded with buffs and can use special moves to pummel their foes. Good co-op play can also open up your enemies for spectacular finishing moves and takedowns. Enemies also try to team up, using each other's strengths and weaknesses to try and take players down. So shield carriers will protect vulnerable archers and shamans will buff their allies first and then set about attacking you afterwards. So the exact strategies you and your team aim to use can be turned against you by the AI
As well as having an impact on combat, players can choose skills and characters that directly impact on their route through the game. Scenario specific skills that can be equipped before starting a mission, these can help you to overcome obstacles and also aid you in combat. Other characters have the ability to interact with hidden passages and areas that would be unavailable to some of their colleagues. “We want to create a set up so that each area is very, very open with a lot of secrets and different paths,” Toplansky explains. “So that after you have beaten a level you could see it again in a whole new way with new objectives that will have been unlocked.” Finding secret areas can lead to unique challenges and objectives, so the kind of loadouts and skills players choose to equip can have a massive impact.
The game is already looking a lot smoother than its predecessor, even at this early stage, and the lush environments and dank dungeons hide a wealth of hidden treats, interactive traps and devices. In terms of the campaign the team are eager to have over one hundred hours of content packed away for players to enjoy, not even including the co-op aspect which can take on a competitive aspect in terms of scoring and rewards. Unfortunately, other than story crossovers there will be no cross game unlocks with Sacred Citadel (the XBLA spin off). There was also the question of PvP combat and that is something the team has thought about but are not ready to commit to just yet. Certainly the door is open for a wide range of features and Sacred 3 could well provide a compelling RPG experience.
Expect to be forming a posse of power levelers and ransacking every innocuous looking barrel and chest that crosses your path when Sacred 3 emerges from its thousand year slumber in early 2013.