Rise Of In­car­nates

An­ar­chy reigns in this west­ern­ised jab at the team brawler

EDGE - - GAMES - Pub­lisher/de­vel­oper Bandai Namco For­mat PC Ori­gin Ja­pan Re­lease 2014


Gun­dam Vs, Bandai Namco’s two-ontwo fight­ing game se­ries, is a stal­wart of the Ja­panese ar­cade scene. Yet these games – as well as the style of tight-knit team play that they’ve pop­u­larised in so many Shin­juku base­ments – are vir­tu­ally un­known in the west. Ryuichiro Baba has worked on the Gun­dam Vs se­ries for a decade and was ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer on Mo­bile Suit Gun­dam: Ex­treme Vs, and he be­lieves the medium has been the prob­lem, not the mes­sage. So, in the ab­sence of a vi­brant western ar­cade scene, he in­tends to bring this idio­syn­cratic type of com­pet­i­tive fight­ing game over­seas via PC in­stead. The re­sult is Rise Of In­car­nates, a free-to-play brawler that’s be­ing de­vel­oped by Baba along­side vet­er­ans of Namco’s flag­ship Tekken and Soul Cal­ibur se­ries.

Baba first con­ceived the idea for a western-cen­tric com­pet­i­tive on­line brawler three years ago. He then spent 18 months con­vinc­ing Bandai Namco’s man­age­ment of its po­ten­tial, car­ry­ing out mar­ket re­search in Lon­don and other key cities. “A lot of re­search went into the char­ac­ter de­signs to en­sure that they weren’t go­ing to turn off the western play­ers,” he says. “We had to prove that the game would be com­mer­cially vi­able as best we could. And we also spent a great deal of time on the me­chan­ics them­selves.” In­deed, while the game shares strate­gic sim­i­lar­i­ties with Gun­dam Vs, its aes­thetic and fine de­tails are dis­tinc­tive.

In other words, there are no big stomp­ing ro­bots. Gun­dam’s sci-fi trap­pings are gone, too, with Rise Of In­car­nates set in a se­ries of derelict real-world cities, each one bor­dered by piles of smashed cars and con­crete. There are four playable char­ac­ters – the epony­mous su­per­nat­u­ral in­car­nates – at this pre-al­pha stage, each of which has ac­cess to a pow­er­ful oth­er­worldy form. The de­signs are typ­i­cally out­landish for a game that, de­spite its global in­ten­tions, re­mains firmly rooted in anime tra­di­tion. The mad re­searcher Dr Gasper Wat­teau, for in­stance, can morph into the Grim Reaper in­car­nate, and wields a scythe lined with a chainsaw blade while surf­ing along on a tidal wave of corpses.

Strat­egy de­rives from the way in which two play­ers work to­gether, ei­ther choos­ing to fo­cus their ef­forts by gang­ing up on a sin­gle op­po­nent or spread­ing their at­ten­tion across both ri­vals by mark­ing one char­ac­ter each. The com­bi­na­tion of cho­sen fighters al­ters strat­egy and, at the mo­ment at least, it’s pos­si­ble for both play­ers to pick the same fighter. If both opt for Lilith, for ex­am­ple, a pur­ple siren who can streak into the air on but­ter­fly wings, it be­comes a game of main­tain­ing dis­tance while show­er­ing down locked-on range at­tacks. Con­versely, if both choose Mephistophe­les, a pow­er­ful rage de­mon, then they must keep their op­po­nents in reach to make use of his melee at­tacks. As more char­ac­ters are added to the ros­ter, new com­ple­men­tary op­tions should open up.

Baba is keen to po­si­tion Rise Of In­car­nates as a game that will sup­port high-level com­pet­i­tive play. “We have a great deal of ex­pe­ri­ence in eS­ports,” he says. “We know that there are star play­ers and that their tac­tics in­flu­ence the masses who fol­low, so we’re try­ing to en­cour­age and fa­cil­i­tate that.” Nev­er­the­less, there is a bal­ance to be struck, es­pe­cially for a novel type of genre out­side of Ja­pan, and a game that Baba is hop­ing will at­tract a wide de­mo­graphic.

He and his team have stud­ied League Of Leg­ends and other pop­u­lar PC-based free-toplay ti­tles that suc­cess­fully blend a broad base ap­peal with stag­ger­ing strate­gic depth. “It’s im­por­tant that the game is easy to pick up and play,” he says. “For that rea­son, we’ve stan­dard­ised the con­trols for each char­ac­ter, even though abil­i­ties are var­ied. But even so, you’ll find it’s very hard to beat us, be­cause we have mas­tered tim­ing, com­bi­na­tions and co­op­er­a­tion. The op­por­tu­nity for ma­ture strat­egy and ex­pres­sion is cru­cial. That’s what will ap­peal to the top-tier play­ers.”

Ryuichiro Baba, ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer

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