Heroes of Ruin E3 2011 Hands-On Preview -- A Fresh Take on the Portable Dungeon CrawlerBy Jeffrey Matulef - Posted Jun 16, 2011
At it's core, Heroes of Ruin is an action RPG with an isometric perspective where you scour randomly generated dungeons for loot and fight monsters. You choose from one of four classes: the melee weapon wielding vindicator, the self-explanatory gunslinger, the physically imposing savage, or the magic casting "alchitect." Each has their own unique powers and abilities (the savage, for example, gets more powerful when low on health).
So far so good, but its true potential lies in multiplayer. The game supports up to four player drop-in/drop-out co-op (either local or wi-fi with voice chat support). Impressively, Heroes of Ruin solves the age old question of how to pause in an online multiplayer game. One of the main reasons I've never been much of a multiplayer gamer is due to not being able to pause while playing online. If the phone rings, someone's at the door, or nature calls you'll have to sacrifice your game. Not so with Heroes of Ruin. If a player pauses, enemies will cease to pay attention to them and the difficulty automatically scales to account for their absence. As soon as they come back, it readjusts.
There's other neat streamlined additions too. When you stand next to a weapon or piece of armor, it displays if it's better, worse, or the same as what you currently have equipped. If you want to compare all the nitty gritty stats in the menu you can, but it's not required. You simply press up on the d-pad and voila, the new gear is equipped. No mucking about in menus necessary.
If you find gear you don't want, you can either pick it up and sell it later, or quick sell it to the "trader's network" by pressing down on the d-pad. What this does is give you some money (not as much as one would get by selling it in a store, but far more convenient) and makes your sold items available for purchase for anyone who comes in contact with you via street pass functionality. Some equipment can only be equipped by certain classes, so when my vindicator found gunslinger armor, I had to decide whether to sell it or be courteous and let my partner know about it (which I did, because I'm a stand up guy like that).
All these additions are neat, but they wouldn't mean anything if the game didn't play well. Based on my brief hands on, it succeeded there too. I played as a vindicator with a mighty sword, while a developer played with me as a gunslinger. Attacks were responsive and meaty, and I could dodge/roll with the right shoulder button and map special attacks to the face buttons. One had me deliver a powerful overhead smash, another a straight-forward dash, and I eventually found an ability that would heal anyone within a small radius of me.
There's more to the game than combat, as puzzles will play an important role as well. The only one I came across had me figuring out how to lower a force field around a magic tree by hitting glowing purple nodes surrounding it. Hitting one node would toggle the ones adjacent to it between being active or not. Eventually, I deactivated the barrier and was able to access the tree to complete a sidequest.
According to the developers, there will be new sidequests added every day on their website for at least a year. Between this, four playable characters, and the estimated 12-hour single player campaign, Heroes of Ruin looks to be a game that should keep players busy for awhile.
Elsewhere, the game looks great, particularly the character models. Each weapon and piece of armor looks different, and characters look rich and detailed. There's even a robust character creator, and I nearly held up the presentation getting sucked in to customizing my half lion vindicator.
I came out of the Heroes of Ruin presentation really impressed. Its deep combat system, varied characters, and accessible multiplayer options appear to elevate above and beyond the standard dungeon crawler. I'm excited to see how it turns out upon release in 2012.