Nowadays, if you create a first-person shooter game, you need to create a multiplayer component that usually pits you against players while working together on a team. The problem is, the so called “team” aspect never feels like a true team as you and your teammates run around and fight the other team while never truly working together for a common goal.
Splash Damage’s Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory to this day is one game that has impacted my life the most as it’s a game that cannot be played without proper team work. Each character class had its strengths and weaknesses and neither one felt overpowered compared to the rest. Bethesda has called on this legendary developer studio to create a brand new title. The game is called Brink, and after spending an hour with the game on a beautiful sunny day in NYC, I can say the game should be considered the spiritual successor to Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory but with many, many improvements that will probably consume all of my free time.
One of the first things you’ll do in Brink is create your character. During our demo time, I didn’t see an option to create a female character which unfortunately had to be axed in order to give the male characters a more in-depth customization system. As unfortunate a decision as that was to make, I’m sure players will forgive Splash Damage after seeing the amount of pieces you can customize your character with. I was able to choose a number of preset faces for my character that gave him a number of things such as scars, different facial features, and a tattoo, but I’m told you can completely customize the look of your character to your liking. You can then move on to his hair, headgear, clothing, and a bunch of other customization options. The character model that is shown during the customization process will be your exact visual representation when another player looks at you in-game. The characters in Brink have a unique art style to them that looks like a mix between realistic and exaggerated art that looks absolutely gorgeous in their HD glory. At one point in the demo, I was instructed to give my character a facial tattoo and then place a face paint over it. At first, I thought the face paint would just drown out the tattoo, but upon closer inspection, I saw the tattoo was still faintly visible underneath the face paint. That just shows how much thought Splash Damage has put into the detail in this game. When you’re done customizing your character’s look as one faction, you can flip your character’s faction in order to customize his look on that team.
Once I finished dressing up my avatar, I jumped into a game with other level 1 characters through a local PSN game through P2P. The way Brink will work online is strictly by P2P and not by having dedicated servers. Splash Damage promises their auto-migration technology will keep the play smooth if the host happens to drop out of the game. You can choose to play the campaign alone with 15 AI controlled players, or you can play online and experience the same story with 15 human players. Even if you don’t start with a full game, players will be able to drop in & drop out at any time and you probably won’t even notice.
When a game starts, an in-game cinematic takes place that gives the player an understanding of the purpose of their mission and what needs to be done in order to complete it. You’ll play as a member of either the Security or Resistance with up to 16 other players all together. Each faction has their own mission objectives during the game, while each individual class will also have their own sets of additional missions. You can choose to play as a Soldier, Medic, Engineer, or an Operative. In order to access the menu that describes your missions, you have to push the “Up” button on your controller, which calls up a radial menu. Your primary objective will normally be up top, while class specific objectives will be accessible along the radial menu. Upon highlighting an objective, the camera viewpoint will shift from what you’re currently looking at to the highlighted mission objective while highlighting the objective in a bright yellow silhouette as well as giving its distance from your current position.
The amount of mobility your character has in the game is jaw-dropping. Each character moves as if they’re an expert at parkour. You’re able to sprint over, under, and up a number of obstacles that are in your way. If you see a stack of boxes leading up to a bridge, then all you have to do is sprint towards it and your character will climb up the boxes and up to the bridge with very little effort. You’ll also be able to slide into cover, or if you’re feeling flashy, through an opponents legs to turn around and blast him with a couple of rounds from your gun.
As you progress through the game, you’ll gain experience which will unlock a number of traits and special abilities for your character depending on the class he plays, as well as character specific traits and abilities. The traits and special abilities you can unlock vary from class to class, but they’re all very helpful and will certainly give you the upper hand against your enemies. Experience will also allow you to unlock further pieces of customization for your character. It’s a good thing that nearly everything you do in Brink will earn you experience, although if you perform acts the benefit your team, such as reviving players or completing a mission objective, you’ll earn more experience. Splash Damage says players will actually earn more experience by completing objectives and helping their team than killing enemies. I saw this first hand when I was escorting a team member who had to deliver stolen documents to a computer terminal and I received experience every couple of seconds for escorting him.
One of the things Splash Damage told me that really struck a chord during our demo time was how Brink is a game that is enticing its players to become better players by rewarding them with experience for doing what they already should be doing. Too often have I played an online FPS game of either capture the flag or escorting a VIP and both teams are too busy shooting one another to focus on the objective. Not only will Brink change the way players interact in the game, but it’ll also change the mindset of the typical FPS shooter for the better in other games too. Brink is a game the online FPS gaming world has been needing for a long, long time.