Dead Space 3 Co-op Hands-on Preview -- Plenty of Necromorph Slaying to Go AroundBy Jake Gaskill - Posted Jun 04, 2012
If you're a developer fortunate enough to be given the chance to create two or three installments in a popular series, like the folks at Visceral Games have been with Dead Space, it can be a double edged sword. Play it too safe and players will pounce on it for being more of the same, regardless of how great that same is. Take too big a chance and you risk alienating series die-hards.
It’s a balancing act for sure, and it’s one that Visceral is clearly in the midst of with its forthcoming Dead Space 3 as the newest installment not only has Isaac Clarke fighting for survival (at least partially) on a bright, snowy planet but also has him teaming up with a buddy in the form of drop-in/drop-out co-op, a first for the series.
Now, I’ll admit, seeing Isaac and a pal squaring off against a giant ice creature with glowing orange limbs felt quite a bit more like Lost Planet than Dead Space, a comparison that will no doubt dominate most of the conversations about Dead Space 3 over the coming months. And rightfully so. But going back to the risk/reward idea from earlier, Visceral is taking some big chances with DS3, but from what we saw and played, this is still very much a Dead Space game. So put down the pitchforks and torches for a second.
First, let’s get the whole snow planet setting out of the way first. See, Isaac’s insatiable need to put the interstellar hurt on those nightmarish by nature Necromorphs, coupled with a number of reasons that we have yet to be privy too, causes him to track the Necromorph threat to a mysterious planet that may very well be their home world. While orbiting the planet, something goes terribly wrong, naturally, and Isaac and his crew find themselves stranded. We’ll have to wait for E3 proper to get more details on the backstory, but at least that gives us a general setup to work with.
As for the other major new addition, co-op, Visceral made it a point during the presentation portion of our demo that that Dead Space experience fans have enjoyed is very much in tact in DS3. Strategic limb dismemberment, jump scares aplenty, and heart-pounding boss showdowns are all on the menu, and the Visceral folks are making sure that each of these elements is even more spectacular and “Holy crap!”-inducing than ever. Most importantly of all though: none of this will change should you decide to play the game co-op.
Still, there will be some rather clear distinctions between the co-op and single-player games, primarily/logistically because you’ll have someone by your side. In the example we saw, a scene played out in which Isaac was locked out of a building and his pal was on the roof. However, when played in co-op, Isaac and his pal were together, and they had to help each other open the door. This carries over into bigger moments as well, so there will definitely be an incentive to play through the campaign again just to see how things play out when you have another Necromorph-slayer by your side.
After a few short stretches of exploration across some frozen tundra, and barely escaping from a collapsing crane by climbing and jumping between breaking platforms (ala the train escape at the beginning of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves) we got our first look at some new Necromorphs and promptly tore them apart with our trusty collection of high-tech weaponry. In terms of enemies, they all looked very familiar, except one that when cut in half, three giant tentacles sprout out of the bloody torso. Yummy.
Another big first for DS3 is that you’ll be facing off against actual humans for the first time. Not only does this break up the pattern of “shoot legs, shoot head” combat, but it also means Necromorphs can now carry weapons, since they’re able to infect fresh hosts on the fly.
On the weapons side, there are big changes as well. Now, ammo is universal, so no more having to worry about holding on to certain ammo types out of fear of not having your favorite type during some later boss battle. Ammo hoarders, you’re welcome. Some of the weapons also have the option of firing different types of ammo, which will free up space in your inventory.
Our demo ended with a massive showdown against swarms of Necromorphs as we struggled to bring down a massive drill online by stasising the giant spinning gears to expose the power core. To say that dodging hordes of enemies while also trying to avoid being torn apart by a towering spinning drill had me white knuckled is an understatement, and having a co-op partner didn’t take away from that sense of urgency and terror in the least.
Whether this will transfer over to the quieter, slower paced sections of the game is the million dollar question, and hopefully we’ll get a glimpse at how the answer to this question is shaping up when we see more of Dead Space 3 during E3 this week.