Bethesda and inXile Unveil Hunted

Introducing the project his studio has been hard at work on for the past two years, inXile Entertainment (The Bards Tale) founder Brian Fargo said that it reflected their desire for a return of the classic dungeon crawl design done with modern technology. He took a trip down memory lane citing many of the classics from his days at Interplay that worked the simple magic of just getting lost adventuring in a dungeon. With that, he took the wraps off of Hunted: The Demon's Forge.

After that introduction, it initially came as a shock to be greeted by an Unreal Engine-powered third-person action game. But as I took in the demo it started to click more with me. This isn't a return to those games; it's a return to their spirit. It seeks to bring out that one more room, one more encounter, next thing you know it's 2am-style obsession.

The Unreal Engine certainly provides a proven base for building an addictive game. Hunted replaces the space marine gauntlets and guns with the swords and bows of a fantasy setting but the core mechanic remains moving from cover to cover and managing enemy groups without getting overwhelmed.

From the outset the team also knew they wanted to build Hunted as a co-op game. The entire design reflects this, beginning with the two playable characters. One is the up-close sword-wielding warrior Caddoc; the other is the ranged specialist Elara with her bow. While both also have an alternate weapon in the other's style, they work best when supporting one another. Together they make a formidable team, with Caddoc moving forward to engage while Elara rains down arrows from a good sniping spot.

Unlike the old dungeon crawl games, Hunted is not a collectathon of bits and pieces of armor, amulets, rings, and the like. The key loot to the game focuses on each character's weapons and there will be a number of increasingly powerful and magic variations of them. There is no traditional inventory system. Instead the weapons appear on the character model in the game. There's also a skill system tied closely to the melee and ranged specializations of each that will allow further customization as levels are earned.

From what I saw Hunted rolled up ideas from a number of different games to create its modern reinterpretation of the dungeon crawl. There was the raw action appeal of wading through waves of goblins, spiders, and related denizens. The skill system and weapon upgrades bring in the character development side from a role playing game. And the co-op design with its warrior and archer dynamic introduces the reward of playing together like an MMO. It looks like a good formula; I'm curious to play some and see how well that translates in practice.

Developed by inXile and published by Bethesda, Hunted: The Demon's Forge is coming to PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. When, however, has yet to be revealed.

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