What the hell is Hellgate: London?

As I play this game I often ask myself this question.  Specifically I wonder whether this thing is an MMO or not.  It appears to be, first and foremost, and action RPG but it has classic elements of other well defined play styles.  Depending on which faction you choose, be it Templar, Hunter, or Cabalist you tend to play the game very differently.  The Hunter faction is especially reminiscent of the typical FPS style, and in fact, the camera does default to first person mode for both Hunter classes.  The melee style of the Templar is much more similar to the spiritual sire of this game, Diablo 2, although the game is 3D now and zoomed in as opposed to a fixed isometric view.  Still, the game play is much more like click-and-kill but with more buttons for the mashing.  Finally, the Cabalist faction brings game play much more like an MMO with mostly ranged attacks and the camera is pulled back in chase mode.   

These three different styles of game play for the different factions just adds to my difficulty in classifying the game.  It has a myriad of MMO-like qualities:   

  • Guilds
  • Parties (up to five players)
  • Crafting
  • Subscription model
  • Online Events (Today is Guy Fawkes Day – see V for Vendetta if you’re not from the UK)
  • Continued additions for subscribers to game content, class development, etc.
  • PVP (for subscribers)
  • Quests and story arcs
  • Loot
  • Character development 

Yet it has some distinctly different qualities from the typical MMO: 

  • No fire and forget targeting – there is no tab key based auto target function
  • The network functionality is much more like a shooter, meaning high latency causes game play to suffer
  • Hubs are subway zones where you meet players to form parties, and all outside travel is instanced, ala Guild Wars
  • There is only one, multi part, story line – once you finish it you restart the game and the story line but at  a higher difficulty 

So, if it is an MMO, it’s not your classic MMO.  The game plays much faster and more fluidly than any MMO I’ve ever played.  The pet classes have way more “minions” that even the COH Mastermind class.  In this game, battles typically consist of swarms of opponents rather than the usual one or two that you face in an MMO.  There is no queuing of abilities or spells onto a selected target.  There is some degree of auto-targeting but it’s much more like a console shooter system such as Halo.  You can’t lock on to a target.  In fact, my initial tab key pounding only served to cause the mini-map to toggle through its two modes as that’s what the key is bound to by default. 

I suppose it’s fair to say that it’s as much of an MMO as Guild Wars is.  In fact, it feels somewhat similar, especially in the way the  gear, crafting, and instanced EVERYTHING works.  The “twitchiness” though is something all together different and new.  I’ll go way out on a limb here and pose a questions.  Could this be the first true “Next Generation” MMO?  It’s network code and game mechanics are certainly a big departure from the old MUD model that the industry seems completely unable to move away from.    The game seems to be more targeted for casual play instead of the hardcore raider.  And finally Hellgate’s pace and very much linear story line is more like that of an Action-RPG, but it’s accessible and shareable by groups and guilds as opposed to a single player experience. 

I guess a lot of questions around this game will be answered over time as we see what the subscription model really buys players and we see if the game is supported by a Live Team with regular updates.  I look forward to seeing where this one goes in regards to PVP and even raiding.  If nothing else, it’s a breath of fresh air for me, a former Diablo 2 addict.  If I had to classify it at this point, I’d say Hellgate is “an Action-RPG/FPS/MMO-lite.”  J

7 Comments to What the hell is Hellgate: London?

  1. kanker's Gravatar kanker
    November 18, 2007 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    grab yourself a bit of the test server… it’s looking VERY nice for the next patch.. the graphics ‘lag’ has improved substantially, at least for me it has.. some improvements to chat also..

  2. kanker's Gravatar kanker
    November 20, 2007 at 2:30 am | Permalink

    nope… nothing I know of about the getting stuck thing.. tonight was the first night I actually had that happen… I ended up waiting for like 20 mins for something to come kill me.. (thorns and health regen not so shiny for that)

    And I came to realize the lag wasn’t server side.. it was the fault of itunes downloading my podcasts onto my c drive.. not a big deal to most people.. however, I was sitting at a pretty 30 mb… /cring

  3. November 20, 2007 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Oh man, that sucks. Well, hopefully they’ll address the stuck issue soon because it’s happened to me three times now and I’m only up to level 10 with my main character.

  4. kanker's Gravatar kanker
    December 3, 2007 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    Update on the terrain stuck thing.. /stuck
    it seems to port you back to the start of the zone.. which is WAY better than the old logoff/getpissed/notplayfor3days thing..

  5. December 5, 2007 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    Right on Kanker, thanks for the update. I am still in the old logoff/getpissed/notplayfor3days mode but when I return I will know to try that command, thanks to you! Have you gotten pretty far in the campaign yet?

  6. kanker's Gravatar kanker
    December 5, 2007 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    I got a guardian up to lvl 20.. then I heard you talking about the Eng.. I’m now up to 20 on him.. lol.. I like the drones alot.. :)
    name= knkr03

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