Legacy Of Kain’s PvP spinoff pits vam­pires against hu­mans



Nos­goth is the mul­ti­player por­tion of a can­celled Legacy Of Kain se­quel, spun out on its own and repack­aged as a PC-exclusive third­per­son PvP shooter. It’s free-to-play, and be­ing de­vel­oped by Psy­onix, the stu­dio re­spon­si­ble for the mul­ti­player com­po­nents of Bul­let­storm, Home­front and Mass Ef­fect 3, as well as in­tro­duc­ing Un­real Tour­na­ment’s much-vaunted On­slaught mode.

Still deep into its closed beta with no sign of a re­lease date, Nos­goth is con­tin­u­ally evolv­ing. In its cur­rent form, it’s a fourver­sus-four arena fighter set in small chunks of Nos­goth, the dark fan­tasy world in which the Legacy Of Kain se­ries takes place. One team takes on the role of the vam­pires, each pow­er­ful brawlers ca­pa­ble of scal­ing build­ings, leap­ing huge dis­tances and goug­ing op­po­nents to death with vi­cious melee at­tacks. The op­pos­ing team is made up of hu­man rebels, whose weak and eas­ily gouged bod­ies are mit­i­gated by their com­par­a­tively ad­vanced weaponry, which in­cludes bows, hand can­nons and grenades.

Each race is it­self split into a num­ber of classes. Hu­mans come in the form of a bowwield­ing sniper, a grenade-hurl­ing sup­port fighter, and a rapid-fir­ing, cross­bow-armed tank. There’s even more vari­a­tion within the blood­sucker ranks, with one vam­pire class ca­pa­ble of flight, an­other a sort of pale­skinned In­cred­i­ble Hulk, and the last able to pounce on en­e­mies from a dis­tance.

The dis­par­ity in how each race can in­flict dam­age on the other leads to a dy­namic that ideally sees the hu­mans hud­dle to­gether to avoid be­ing picked off as the vam­pires at­tempt to cir­cle around and as­sault their prey from ev­ery an­gle. In prac­tice, play­ers ex­pire and respawn with dispir­it­ing reg­u­lar­ity, largely based on who man­ages to out­num­ber whom in any given en­counter, re­gard­less of class choice or skill level.

The dif­fer­ent classes don’t in­ter­act in any mean­ing­ful way, but the setup is such that the hu­man char­ac­ters seem like they should. There’s no medic class in the cur­rent build, for in­stance, with health as­sists limited to the gre­nadier’s heal­ing bomb. The hu­mans can also drop a me­chan­i­cal tur­ret that rather dumbly deals con­stant area-of-ef­fect dam­age to any­body stand­ing within a small and clearly marked ra­dius, a tac­ti­cally du­bi­ous weapon that is far too eas­ily sidestepped. The vam­pires, mean­while, op­er­ate en­tirely in­de­pen­dently of one an­other, whether they’re fly­ing around ab­duct­ing hu­mans and drop­ping them on each other, or shoul­der charg­ing through them. Through­out their ros­ter of abil­i­ties, which in­cludes the op­tion to feed on the dead to re­store health, dam­age doesn’t yet feel prop­erly tuned. Pounce on a hu­man at full health and they’ll dis­en­gage from you be­fore they’re fa­tally wounded. Drop one from the sky and they’ll never be killed out­right. In­stead, en­coun­ters at the mo­ment de­volve into hit­point grind­ing, leav­ing play­ers feel­ing numbly im­po­tent.

Two new classes will be added to the beta in due course, and though nei­ther is yet playable, their abil­i­ties prom­ise to add some spark to what is cur­rently a bleakly un­ad­ven­tur­ous game. The first is a spy char­ac­ter sim­i­lar to Team Fortress 2’ s, and the sec­ond is a hu­man blood mage ca­pa­ble of buff­ing and de­buff­ing friends and foes. Both should go some way to rem­e­dy­ing the con­cerns found in the ba­sic char­ac­ter set.

Class cus­tomi­sa­tion en­ables play­ers to em­ploy cer­tain perks, skills and weapons, and it’s here that Nos­goth plans to ex­tract its keep. A pre­mium cur­rency will al­low you to rent or un­lock new weapons more quickly than they can be ac­quired other­wise, with Square Enix con­fi­dent a fair bal­ance can be struck for all.

Whether that’s true or not may be moot if the core game continues to fail to in­spire. Nos­goth is so un­am­bi­tious in its cur­rent form that we ex­pect many, even hard­ened Legacy Of Kain fans, will strug­gle to greet it with any­thing other than slack-faced ap­a­thy.

Hu­man­ity re­stored

You might not re­call hu­mans play­ing a huge part in pre­vi­ous Legacy Of Kain games, which pri­mar­ily con­cerned them­selves with the com­ings and go­ings of vam­pires. Un­der the rul­ing fist of Kain, hu­mans had es­sen­tially been re­duced to in­den­tured plasma sacks, en­slaved cat­tle bred in caves to fill the stom­achs of a hun­gry pop­u­la­tion of blood­suck­ers. Nos­goth takes place shortly af­ter the fall of Kain, with the re­volt­ing hu­mans tak­ing ad­van­tage of the re­sult­ing power vac­uum in an at­tempt to over­throw and erad­i­cate their bru­tal masters. A metagame, War For Nos­goth, will tot up vic­to­ries on both sides and award chunks of the map to hu­mans or vam­pires.

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