When I finally got to visit Bethesda at E3 last week, I was expecting to get some time with Wet and Rogue Warrior, but I also got to sit in on a private demo of next spring’s first-person co-op shooter Brink. I didn’t know much about the game before, but a couple of the developers from Splash Damage walked us through the character creator and a bit of gameplay. Though it’s still about a year from release, it’s definitely an interesting and ambitious project worth learning more about.
It’s the year 2035, and a peaceful city called “The Ark” is Earth’s last hope for humanity. Once a small, peaceful location, the Ark is now overpopulated and on the brink (get it?) of civil war between the security and the resistance. You can create a character on either side of the war, which will obviously affect the way the game plays out. No matter what team you’re on, your objectives will be constantly changing, and each experience should differ dramatically depending on a number of factors.
From what I saw of the character creator, it looks fairly deep, with a good number of customization options. In addition to standard hairstyles and body types, there are also facial overlays that add more detail and originality to each person you create (one of which was called “Hurt Me Plenty”, a sly reference to a difficulty level in the Doom series). Choosing a class is an important part of making a new character, as that will largely determine how your game will play. Since there is also a heavy focus on the cooperative aspect of the game, coordinating classes with other players is also something that needs to be taken into account. Up to eight players can play cooperatively, and making a balanced team is definitely a focus of gameplay.
During the actual playing of the game, we saw the use of a gameplay mechanic known as SMART. That stands for “Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain”, and basically, is the game’s way of interpreting what you need to do. This is optional and can be turned on or off, but can make things go more smoothly during a hectic mission. For example, SMART will sense if you need to jump over or duck under obstacles, and you will simply need to move towards them for this to happen. From an audience perspective, it looked almost Mirror’s Edge-esque, making Brink seem like more than a typical shooter. There is much more to it than that; there’s a lot of action, and some strategy seems to be involved as well.
The amount of detail in the design of the Arc itself seemed to be pretty amazing. The city looks like a unique, interesting environment and should be fun to explore. Even with the game’s release still almost a year away, Brink is looking solid—which we have all come to expect from Bethesda. I would have liked to actually get my hands on it to see how the SMART system feels from the player’s perspective, but hopefully I’ll get a chance at some point. Brink is scheduled to release in the spring of 2010 for the 360, PS3, and PC.