'Zombies Monsters Robots' in new shooter from Mercenary Ops dev

By Ozzie Mejia, Mar 20, 2014 4:00pm PDT

En Masse Entertainment, the publisher behind Tera, knows exactly what they're looking for when it comes to their next third-person shooter. They want the engaging cooperative wave-based gunplay from the Gears of War series, while throwing just about every crazy enemy type imaginable. The publisher has just the studio in mind for such a tall task: Yingpei Games, the developer formerly known as Epic Games China, who are working on a spiritual successor to 2012's Mercenary Ops called Zombies Monsters Robots.

The setup for ZMR is that the inventor of portal technology has warped in cross-dimensional creatures into our world. Humanity must now fend off attacks from hordes of the undead, mythical monstrosities, mechanical menaces, and a variety of other dangerous creatures. And as Shacknews went hands-on for the first time with En Masse's new Unreal Engine 3 shooter, Zombies Monsters Robots did indeed deliver exactly what it promised.

ZMR will feature both PvE and PvP combat. En Masse producers Brian Knox and Matthew Denomme mainly focused on the game's wave-based PvE, which should bring back a lot of memories of Gears of War's classic Horde mode, right down to the gritty visual style. Up to eight players can join together to fend off waves of enemies across more than 60 playable maps.

To try out ZMR, I began a PvE session with four other players in a stage called the Pit. The team was given a brief window to repair dilapidated structures and board up windows, in order to keep aggressors at bay. This didn't last long, as waves of zombies quickly began attacking. With every successful wave completed, new areas of the map would open up and new varieties of enemies would attack. It wasn't long before I was overrun by zombie dogs with explosives strapped to their backs or lumbering walkers with giant clubs. Blindly shooting isn't encouraged, either, as ZMR features an active reload system that rewards reloading at the right moment and punishes ill-timed cues.

Maps are open, giving enemies numerous entry points. Teamwork is heavily encouraged and strategy is key, especially when it comes to unlocked weaponry. Late in the session, one player deployed a turret (with the added effect of providing unlimited ammo to anyone in its vicinity) near a staircase, allowing teammates to focus on zombies in the distance, while the turret disposed of anything trying to get upstairs.

The session ended with an example of one of ZMR's massive boss battles. Dubbed 'The Executioner,' this boss would attack with lightning and hit area-of-effect attacks that could take down multiple players in a single strike. Players would not only need to take him down quickly, but also watch their ammo, since melee attacks would do little good. One of the boss's final attacks saw him reach across the room's walls with his whips and cave them in, in a keen demonstration of ZMR's dynamic destructible environments. Bosses are all designed to be truly imposing presences, with other end-level challenges to include a giant tarantula, an undead Pharoah with magical abilities, and a Lochness-sized sea monster. However, it should be noted that the bosses will only be available on Advanced difficulty or any of its two higher difficulty levels. Normal and below will simply have to survive the enemy waves.

The undead Pharoah is one of ZMR's many oversized bosses

Yingpei is taking the lessons its learned from Mercenary Ops and applying them to this new game. ZMR will feature everything from its predecessor, along with a revamped UI and new customization features. PvP game modes, which will fit up to 16 players, run the gamut from standard deathmatch to unique new modes, such as Mercs vs. Monsters. Weaponry can be modded, but available arms will vary across PvE and PvP. Knox cited a lightning gun usable in PvE that would chain lightning shots across multiple enemies and noted that such a weapon would be overpowered in a PvP setting.

En Masse and Yingpei are planning substantial support for ZMR, targeting free monthly updates that will add weapons, maps, and game modes. The game is targeting April for a public alpha before starting an early access period in May. (EDIT: Since this post, En Masse has informed Shacknews that an early access period will begin in May, though the platform of distribution has not been determined. This has been corrected.) Zombies Monsters Robots is aiming to launch on PC early this summer. Sign-ups for the alpha are available on the game's website.

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