Thursday HanbitSoft, Redbana and T3 Entertainment announced that Hellgate (sans the "London" extension) is finally returning to North America later this year. The game will initially launch as a free-to-play MMO in closed beta from June 3rd to June 5th.
"Players are invited to return to Hellgate this June to fight for the survival of the human race," reads the official PR. "Join a party online to fight against evil with a team or play solo if you’re brave enough. Choose your character from six different unique class types and prepare for battle against creatures from hell. Arm yourself with a wide variety of weapons and armor and dismantle the ones you don’t need to obtain rare scrap metals. Enhance your weapons with upgrades and relics to have the best chance of survival."
Hellgate was originally developed by Flagship Studios and launched back in October 2007. After the studio went bankrupt, development halted and the IP was seized as collateral by Comerica Bank. Prolonging the game's eventual death, Namco Bandai provided free US/EU server support until January 31 2009 when the servers were taken offline. HanbitSoft finally swooped in, acquired the Hellgate properties and launched the game in Korea after a controvercial legal dispute with the defunct developer. The company then secured the US/EU territory rights in 2010.
Flagship Studios was founded by former Diablo veterans including Bill Roper, Max Schaefer, Erich Schaefer and David Brevik. The studio was working on two titles when the employees were fired and the doors closed: Hellgate: London and the Diablo-like Mythos. HanbitSoft claimed that it offered the studio several methods in keeping the doors open for business prior to the lay-offs, even previously sank large amounts of investments into the studio. But Flagship kept replying to the offers with "ridiculous" counter-offers.
The negotiations between the two parties ultimately went sour and eventually led to the lay-offs of all Flagship employees. “Flagship not only lacked effort, but were only looking for personal gain," HanbitSoft stated in an interview. "Firing all of the Flagship employees in order to protect the personal interests of its founding members only shows how selfish and irresponsible they are."
Now, years later, the legal dust has settled and Hellgate is finally returning to North America through the Redbana publishing arm, the same branch that currently has Flagship's Mythos up and running in closed beta. For the uninitiated, Hellgate is an action RPG in a first-person or third-person perspective set 27 years into the future. The gates of hell have been thrown open and demons have overrun the world of man, doing what demons do best: roam, destroy, pillage and kill.
"With the world above ground abandoned, dark and burnt to hellfire, humans are forced into hiding to protect what remains of their race while making plans to take back a world that was once theirs," reads the description. "In the game, mankind escapes to the underground system under the sprawling metropolis of London. Prepare for a struggle for survival in a world that has become hell."
Fans can follow Hellgate on on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. Those who wish to check out Mythos outside the local closed beta can actually play the game via the European service-- there's an English-based server up and running.