Deathloop: Hands-Off Preview
One of the more interesting AAA titles coming our way has to be Deathloop. From Arkane, the minds behind Dishonored and Prey, Deathloop is bringing their signature FPS stylings into a new genre, the Rogue-like. Ever since its announcement, I have been curious as to what the actual core gameplay loop will be, but thanks to a hands-off demonstration and a QA session with Dinga Bakaba (Game Director and Sebastien Mitton (Art Director) from Arkane Lyon I have a much better idea of how things are going to go down.
Deathloop is first and foremost an FPS title, but one that aims to shake up standard conventions by using time in an interesting way. Set over the course of one 24 hour period replayed in a loop over and over again, the goal of the main protagonist Colt is to arrange things so that he can assassinate 8 key figures in one 24 hour period and break the loop. So suddenly this FPS becomes more of a puzzle, with the players using information learned during each loop to gradually improve their strength and arrange things so that these key figures can be assassinated in one day. All the while, the 8th and strongest of these advisories, Julianna, is out and about trying to kill you.
So that is the grand overview, but what about the moment to moment. Well, fans of Dishonored are going to feel right at home here because there seems to be a lot of similarities in the way these games play. The maps cater to a stealthy approach, a full-on assault or something in between, with tonnes of side entrances, back streets and high vantage points to make use of. Supernatural powers that are very similar to those found in Dishonored exist too, with a teleport ability that recalls more than a shade of blink being used to great advantage in the footage we saw. As players take down key enemies, new powers are earned but when you die, everything is lost and you start the process again. That is until you get access to the game’s primary resource which is called Residuum. This gives the players the ability to keep their skills and upgrades after each death, allowing the increase of power that is key in all good rogue-likes.
The island the game is set on features a host of different areas to explore, along with different times to explore them. Each area on the island can be explored during the morning, midday, afternoon and evening, with each time period different from the rest. For example, overhearing a conversation in the morning from two workers talking about setting up a meeting for the boss in the evening will give players clues on who is going to be where at any given time. It all looks very organic and in no way forced, players will stumble on these clues in a natural way, not through linear progression, so everyone’s playthrough should be slightly different. During these time periods, players will not have any time limit to their exploration, with the next time period only coming when the player wants it to (through changing locations.) Players who butted up against Returnal’s save system will also be pleased to know that players can save their progress in each loop anytime they change the time period, which sounds much more forgiving for the time-poor out there.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that Julianna can be controlled by a second player, allowing them to invade your game and hunt you down. This can be turned off or on as desired by the player and if you want to play the game by yourself the whole way through then that is fine, but if you want the extra challenge that only a human-controlled adversary can bring, then this is perfect for you. It should create some super cool in-game moments and I have no doubt it will be a hit to watch on streaming services like Twitch and YouTube.
With the cool late-60’s setting and groovy original soundtrack (fingers crossed for a vinyl release), Deathloop is looking to tick all of the boxes when it releases in September this year. I think it is safe to say that if Arkane’s previous titles tickled your fancy then this is going to be right up your alley. I for one can’t wait.