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Mirage: Arcane Warfare preview: Arabian Knights

Anyone that surveys the battlefields from Chivalry: Medieval Warfare is likely to find pools of blood and fields of severed limbs. It's the result of getting up close and personal, getting right into the heart of melee combat. On the surface, it would appear that Torn Banner Studios' next game, Mirage: Arcane Warfare, is moving away from that kind of combat and focusing more on ranged battles. That's not entirely the case and, in fact, Torn Banner is looking at Mirage as the natural evolution of the gameplay style that Chivalry has put forward.

Melee combat will still be a key part of Mirage, but Torn Banner's jump into Arcane Warfare will feature some key differences. The first big difference is the setting, which goes from the era of medieval knights to the Persian theater, evoking more "Arabian Nights" than "King Arthur." All of Mirage's landscapes are inspired by classic Persian architecture and painted in high contrast colors.

The other key difference, of course, is the addition of magic and more ranged combat. Just as in Chivalry, Mirage will feature multiple class types and they will all have their own distinct weaponry and magic spells. Their unique magicks will slot them into different team roles and suit different play styles, as teams of six mix together the newly-implemented range magic with Chivalry-style melee combat. Spears, swords, and shields will still be a big part of the experience.

While the addition of magic implies that there will be a far greater emphasis on offensive gameplay, but that is not entirely the case. Just like when it comes to winding up or swinging larger weapons in Chivalry, performing magic requires a startup period. That opens the door for defense, since all spells can be interrupted by melee strikes or by a counterattack. Likewise, there are defensive spells that can block incoming projectiles with other projectiles, or certain weapons like the mace that can block projectiles with a well-timed strike.

Mirage's multiplayer objective-based game modes will also get something of an upgrade from Chivalry, taking advantage of larger maps to introduce multiple objectives that come in phases. For example, there's a massive Persian palace that starts off as a control point map. If both points are captured by the offense, a different part of the palace map opens up and a chamber reveals a payload that must be escorted to the palace tower. The payload must be escorted by the offense, essentially switching up the game type on the fly.

As is to be expected from this type of game, teams will need to work in conjunction with one another and take advantage of their class's respective talents. For example, the Vigilist class can help focus on defense and put up bubble shields to force melee combat. The Tinkerer can help protect the team by laying down magical mines that go off whenever enemies step over them, or by setting them around a healing field so that enemies gets wrecked when they attempt to destroy the healing totem.

If there's one other element that set Chivalry apart from other multiplayer action games it's the game's gore factor, with realistic dismemberment and blood effects. That will still be a major element of Mirage, with well-aimed magic blasts capable of severing limbs, decapitating opponents, or even leaving them fried to a crisp. Even though that fall to a heap in one piece will likely see pools of blood seep out moments after they've perished. Those worried about the switch to magic compromising the realistic battle damage that made Chivalry so interesting can rest easy.

Torn Banner has weaved quite a tale around the premise of Mirage, with its two teams separated by their outlook on magic. One team embraces magic's power and uses it as a means to an end, while the other team recognizes magic as spirits from another realm that act as blessings to our own realm. That essentially gives one team magic scars and another team magic tattoos, all of which can be customized, along with character armor and weaponry.

The story of Mirage: Arcane Warfare is just beginning and players will get a chance to get a first look when it hits beta this summer. Mirage: Arcane Warfare is in line to hit PC before the end of 2016.

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