E3 2010: Brink PreviewBy Stephen A. Johnson - Posted Jun 18, 2010
What We Know
Splash Damage's first original title, Brink is a first-person shooter that offers team-based multiplayer missions with authored narratives, persistent characters and an approachable nature.
What We Are Seeing
Splash Damage is the company behind Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, an influential shooter cherished by the hardcore multiplayer community, so you'd probably expect Brink to be an updated hardcore shooter. But you'd be very, very wrong. Brink aspires to make multiplayer shooting fun for everyone, not just dudes who can headshot you from across the map with a hipshot from a sniper rifle. The game's various tools and levels teach you how to play as you go; it's a like training wheels for your FPS.
Enumerated below are some of the major changes Brink is trying to add to first-person-shooters:
- New experience point system: Like most modern shooters, Brink features an experience point system. XP in Brink is acquired not just from kills and assists, but from using the right weapon at the right time. Shooting a faraway enemy with your shotgun might do a bit of damage, but it won't help your XP much, while blasting someone in the face from five feet away with a shotty will max out your experience from that kill. This teaches proper technique, and I could see getting maximum experience from a kill becoming a bit of a mini-game in itself.
The XP for shots and kills is shown on screen, so like some RPGs, you shoot a dude and numbers (and blood) come out of his head to show you how much XP you earned. XP is also increased by helping out with objectives and playing your class correctly, so randomly killing people is always a worse decision than participating in the game itself.
- Improved reticule: Your screen will indicated to you the actual spread of your weapon's fire, based on what gun you're holding and how far your target is away. Although using a gun’s steel sights will gain you even more experience.
- Very clear objectives: A simple push at any point during the game will highlight the objective, and provide you directive on what to do, as well as pointing your view toward the relevant area on the map. So you'll never be walking around wondering "what do I do??"
- A robust ranking system: Matching you up with similarly skilled players will (hopefully) result in fewer games where you're cannon fodder for more experienced players.
These improvements are all highly customizable, and removable if you prefer, so this isn't a game that's only for noobs who need lessons. More experienced players will be stoked by the game's tight controls, balanced weapon system and impressive graphics.
Although it’s a big part of the game’s raison d’etre, Brink is not multiplayer only. Instead, it's a hybrid between multiplayer, co-op and PvP gameplay. You can start in a game by yourself, have a friend or stranger drop into any level and either help you or help your enemies. Conceivably, all the AI in the game could be gradually, seamlessly replaced by other humans as a game goes on, while you're still on the same map. Very impressive.
The story concerns a war between soldier types and mercenary types, and will allow you to play through the story from either side: essentially, two complete plots in one game.
The game features persistent characters, too, so you'll be the same dude in multiplayer as you are in single, and your dude will gradually earn upgrades in weapons, looks and abilities that carry over into multiplayer as well. We're not talking new hats only here, either. Weapons can be upgraded with bigger clips, silencers, stabilizers and more, and characters can gain unique abilities like combat intution (the ability to "sense" when someone has you in his sights) to more mundane improvements like more speed or more health.
Cosmetic improvements are both an indicator of your sartorial proclivities and an at-a-glance achievement system. If you see a dude running at you with a tattoo he earned from making 1000 headshot kills, you’d better duck.
Brink is walking a fine line between being hardcore enough for the core and easy enough for the beginner. Whether it will actually succeed in opening up the world of FPSs to the non-FPS inclined remains to be seen, but the demo that I played proved one thing beyond a shadow of a doubt: Brink is very, very fun.