World War Machine, Earth-Rending Preview

wwmlogo   So Square Enix has its own crowd-funding site, called the Square Enix collective.  Being removed from most mainstream news, I was unaware.  World War Machine is a title off that site, which sadly did not meet its fundijng goal of $50k.  Its creators, however, seem unfazed by this, and continue to promote the game accordingly.  It did manage to score $12,382 of its funding goal, though, so cheers to that.  After playing the pre-alpha demo of the game, I am impressed and I hope these guys somehow manage to pull it out of the fire.  Looking at the game on the developer’s site, it is something to be excited about.

World War Machine is a transhuman post-apocalyptic game that takes place after humans have thoroughly fucked up the world.  After a mass extinction event wipes out all organic life from the Earth (which you know happens from time to time if you watch Cosmos) humanity has changed drastically.  We used to be “fleshy meatbags full of sloshing” according to HK-47.  Sensing our impending doom, humans started downloading their consciousness to a computer.  Because, you know, even if our bodies die, it’d be cool to allow something of us to survive, right?  Nothing could go wrong here.  Except that the nodes that house our AI’s are damaged from the cataclysm, fragmented and separated.  Some of us forget who we were and our purpose becoming confused machines roving the decimated landscape.  You play one of those who remembers our past and fight to preserve the memory.  See, the other machines don’t know about the past, but somehow you do. In the demo, I had a level 10 machine.  You are basically a mini gundam ( or Jaeger ) and you fight against the damaged intellects of the other nodes, which house the human intellects.  The fight has been raging for centuries and finally one of the machines remembers.  This seems like you.  Now, the pitch suggests that the team here, Tuque Games, wants players to slip in and out of co-op seamlessly to take on group missions then revert to solo missions.  Missions will have a lasting effect on the world war itself, as well.

Did I mention that the concept art is cool as shit?

Did I mention that the concept art is cool as shit?

That is actually a look at your character in the concept art.  And given some of the differentiation visible between the player concepts on the WWM site, character customization seems to be part of the plan.  Whilst I was in the machine shop menu, I noticed something confusing about the character.  It is a machine, sure, but it looked bizarrely organic.  Now, this is not to say that it has fleshy bits.  It doesn’t.  But there are subtle little features, like wraps around the exposed joints and pieces of wreckage made into a front-plate, that make it look like a cybernetic lifeform evolving on its own in a post-human world.  All of the machines have this look, too, from the mongrels that run and kamikaze on you to the snipers and “reaper” artillery bots.  There is a lot more to this game than you’ll notice at first, for sure.

On the topic of enemies, one of the things I noticed is that they come out of the fucking woodwork.  They squeeze through cracks and doorways in the walls, they pour out of ruined buildings… hell! I was walking along when a chunk of the road imploded and enemies came flooding from the crevasse!  The mission in this demo was simply to get to the other side of the map, but that shit was hard to fucking tell!  Not because there was no explanation.  It clearly said to find the other outpost.  Sure there was no “arrow” but fuck, man, I couldn’t exactly try to go through a mountain of rubble!  What I mean is the level was more vast than I expected from a demo.  Every time I played (and I played several times) it was like I was finding another side path off the one I started on.  Not to mention hidden husks.  You can find shattered robot husks that house materials for crafting.

These stashes were usually hidden, but the nature of the engine lends itself to finding these pretty easily. Breaking things is fun to do.  Simple fucking fact.  This game allows you to destroy nearly fucking EVERYTHING!  If you can shoot it, you can break it.  I found myself demolishing walls, ruined buildings – you can even destroy the rubble!  Fucking seriously!  Too much fun with that, actually.  This is how the game makes it easy to miss stashes, if you aren’t attentive.  You could walk past a destructible terrain and miss out on some cool loot.  And loot in this game ranges from crafting items to weapons and cosmetic items.  I went into the machine shop, which is the crafting screen, and I was able to build some fun things.  You collect a variety of Spec Files from fallen enemies and then find the components to complete the blueprint.  These components are things like plastic and metals and can be found by killing enemies and destroying the props and terrain.  And trust me, one you blow up your first taxi or bus you’ll want to get more of them.  Of course, being a robot, you can tell which terrain pieces have something inside that will be useful.  I just had WAY too much fun destroying things.  I made a cape, which hangs from my character looking badass and tattered.  I also made a few weapons

wwmrkt

BOOM! Ha ha ha ha!

Weapons in WWM come in a variety of flavors: MG class, RKT class, SHTG class, MTR class, ATL class, Rail class.  MG class is your standard machine gun.  This fucker spits out bullets and most enemies will have them.  Luckily, you don’t just walk into the bullets like they do.  Not to mention you can widen the spread as you level up.  RKT is your rocket class weaponry, and these were fun.  Above you see the player blasting enemies with the standard locking missiles.  In the demo I got to try out the mouse-guided missiles!  Those were a riot.  SHTG class is a shot gun.  This sprays a wide burst of firepower in front of you.  I attached it to give my secondary a little more punch!  MTR class is the mortar.  This was awesome, but had a lower damage.  The ATL, however, is fucking scary as hell.  This artillery class weapon fires high, so you have to plan your blast pattern, but it is worth the wait.  The rounds are high explosive and wipe out even the toughest bosses in a short (ish) time.  The RAIL class is the only type of weapon I didn’t get to experiment with.  This beast looks awesome, though, as I fought a few snipers that had it.  The thing passes through terrain, enemies and basically everything the magnetic projectile hits.  Thus, this would be my favorite weapon to destroy terrain with!  One of the cool things I discovered is that you can attach multiple weapons to your body at higher levels.  This allows you to fire a shotgun, ATL combination, for example, that will nuke anything close.  And you have three firing modes (for each mouse button) to choose from! So you’re all kitted out with an arsenal of explosives and guns to make a redneck feel uneasy.  But your vortex of vicious projectiles isn’t at its limit.

You also get powers to choose from.  We had access to them all, but among them a few really caught my eye.  First off, there was ultra-velocity, a mega-man super dash that lets you render enemies into tiny bits of scrap.  Another fun power is the EMP.  This will release a massive bust of electro-magnetic power that will stun most enemies.  Makes it a whole lot easier to deal with hordes of mongrels when they can’t even move.  Then there is my personal carnage-wreaking favorite.  Orbital strike.  This is every bit as much fun as you might imagine.  A laser centers on an area then blasts everything in its radius with a fucking cataclysmic death beam turning everyone into a thin vapor with a faint hint of ozone.

"Oo, look! It's shine.."     -Bob 3428's last words

“Oo, look! It’s sparkl..”
Bob 3428’s last words

Now, that is not the end of it.  You can level up, as stated.  I did not see too much of this, as I was level 10 when I got there.  Leveling seems pretty straight forward.  You get points per level and allocate them to your stats per level.  These stats are Weapon System, Operating System, Protection System, Sensor System and Mobility System.  Now, weapon system is pretty self-explanatory.  This is the power and efficiency at which you use your weapon.  Higher weapon system = more dead bad guys.  Then there is the Operating System.  This seems to be the equivalent of intelligance and govern recalculation, knockback and use count.  Use count seems to be the number of times you can use perishable items and knockback looks like it is either how far you knockback enemies or how well you resist the knockback of others.  Then there is recalculation.  Your guess is as good as mine.  Protection systems are fun, and govern your shields.  How well can you take damage?  Well, you want to be able to take a rocket or three, but let’s face it, you won’t be standing long if you take too many shots in the face.  Then there is the sensor system.  Now, this seems weird, but it is how well you can perceive the world around you.  You’ll have your minimap, right and you are constantly emanating this radar “ping”.  Now, when you ping, enemies will show up on your minimap as the ping hits them, got it?  The higher your sensor system, the faster you’ll ping, the further you can see, the longer you’ll see enemies on your minimap before the next ping goes off and the faster the ping will travel.  Granted, at higher levels, I hope the ping isn’t a constant, ear-splitting pain that just hisses in your ears fueling the rage that drives you through hordes of robots.  I am sure they have it under control, though.  Then there is your mobility system.  This governs your movement speed and how much you can carry in your inventory.  Now, the inventory is a perk all of its own, but speed makes sense in this game more than just the obvious.  Some enemies are slow-moving, but come in fucking massive waves that don’t seem to stop.  You will want to literally dance circles around them as you fire into the crowd.  It will keep you alive longer. Alongside the stats is the ability to overclock your character.  You can pick a single stat and each time you hit the button, your character will get a temporary boost to that stat.  Now weaponry makes a lot of sense, but what about a boost to ping?  Maybe you boost your speed to run away from a horde of mongrels?

There is a lot more to this game than will immediately occur to you, and I am finding new things every time I play. It bothers me that World War Machine did not reach its funding, but I admire the spirit displayed by Tuque Games.  Hopefully they will be able to find a way to make the game.  Perhaps do a pre-release and add content as it progresses?  I don’t know, but I sure do hope to see this title soon.  That is really the one thing about this game that pisses me off the most, too!  I am worried that it will just be another piece of vaporware.  A great demo in my Steam Library that collects electronic dust with my other favorite forgotten titles, like SIN Episodes or the original Thief series.

Want to know more about the game?  Check out their site.

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