'Descent' Franchise Finally Returns To PC

Descent Studios launched a campaign on Kickstarter to fund the development of a new Descent installment. The campaign is seeking to raise $600,000 before April 10 and has already reeled in 721 backers pledging $56,027. The game, called Descent: Underground, is expected to arrive in March 2016.

The original Descent was launched in Europe back in 1994, and then in the United States in March 1995. The big deal with this game was that it was one of the first to use polygons. Descent also boasted six-degrees-of-freedom combat in zero gravity, meaning enemies at the time could attack from any direction, allowing players to maneuver their ship in as many directions. The series has also spawned two sequels, Descent 2 and Descent 3, as well as a level editor and add-on content.

"Sadly, as consoles took over and PC games were pushed aside by publishers, great games like Descent were left to languish in obscurity. A whole generation of gamers grew up without Descent's heart-pounding, non-stop action, robbed of the true 6DoF space adventure that is their birthright," read the Kickstarter page.

According to the campaign, Descent: Underground is the first in a Descent franchise reboot. Heading the team is Eric "Wingman" Peterson, a popular developer known for his work on the Wing Commander series, Starlancer, and more recently, Star Citizen. Also on the team is Jason "Stormwind" Spangler (Star Wars: The Old Republic), Rob "Designoptamus" Irving (Wing Commander), Sergio Roses (Deus EX: Invisible War) and several others. Most of the developers on the team are also working on Star Citizen.

Descent: Underground will be based on the Unreal Engine (4) by Epic Games and will be a first-person shooter at its heart. The story will take place in a future where corporations have replaced national governments. These corporations have set up mining operations in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Essentially, players are defending their mines by fighting off rival companies trying to steal resources.

"We are bringing back that sensational feeling of fighting with six degrees of freedom while playing Descent," said Peterson, CEO of Descendent Studios. "But we aren't stopping there, we aim to take it up a few notches, by allowing players to dynamically change the map [and] customize their ships, to play as a part of a team or simply battle it out rogue style all alone. In addition, players will be able to create items and maps for the universe and get their own creations into the game."

Descent: Underground will also have a multiplayer component that offers up to four different modes. One of these is "Deathmatch Destruction" where players must destroy their enemy's drones, and "Capture the Asteroid," which sees the player defending five beacons on a single asteroid. Other modes include "Capture the Ore" and "Mining for Minerals."

The Kickstarter campaign revealed that players will begin with an unlocked WASP ship. Others that require the player to unlock include Auger, Goliath, Predator, Panzer, Typhoon, Shaman and Warlock. Each ship has three segments that can be switched out: the nose (sensor packages), fuselage (assault platforms) and tail (defensive countermeasures). These segments can be mixed and matched based on the gamer's play style.

"We are designing and building this game to allow maximum community collaboration," the campaign suggested. "Backers will be able to build their own maps, ships, logos, and weapons. Build something cool, submit it, and we may introduce it into the greater universe – become a developer yourself."

Can a new Descent survive in a market full of first-person shooters? As we've seen with Rise of the Triad and Shadow Warrior, reboots such as this one can be lucrative if done right. Descent: Underground seems to have all the right components to make a great shooter in 2016, and with the community's involvement, it should be a title PC gamers shouldn't miss next year.

To see a brief introduction of the gameplay presented by Eric Peterson and Michael Morlan, head here.

Follow Kevin Parrish @exfileme. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

This thread is closed for comments
35 comments
    Your comment
  • stormblade42
    Hell yeah. Freespace 2 was one of the best space combat sims for it's time. These guys know how to do a game right. I'm looking forward to this. As much as Star Citizen is supposed to have in it, I feel one is going to have to work to play, if that makes sense.

    Sometimes I just want to jump in a ship with a fairly simple flight-model a la X-wing or Freespace 2, and just go to town.
  • Merry_Blind
    Is this a decent series? I've never heard of it before...
  • CaedenV
    I think Freespace 2 was the one I got into as a kid. It was so much fun that I figured out how to hook my dad's computer up to the absolutely HUGE 27" TV that we had instead of the 15" monitor. It was a truly amazing experience at the time.