Hands On: The Evil Within, Battlecry

This week during E3 2014, we got a chance to play The Evil Within, Bethesda's upcoming survival horror game by Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikam. The free-to-play team action combat game, Battlecry, was on hand to demo as well, providing a small taste of what's to come in 2015. Bethesda also had a station set up for The Elder Scrolls Online, rounding out the company's E3 2014 playable trio. The new DOOM won't be revealed until Quakecon 2014 in just a few months.

For starters, The Evil Within is slated for an October 2014 release for Windows PC, the two Xbox consoles and the two PlayStation consoles; previously, the game was slated for August 26. Shinji Mikam was there as Bethesda presented the new E3 trailer, stressing that the grainy visuals are intentional. Apparently, he's received a lot of negative feedback about the graininess, but he believes that the film grain adds to the brooding atmosphere.

Bethesda's The Evil Within focuses on protagonist Detective Sebastian Castellanos who, along with his partner, is initially sent to investigate a brutal mass murder of the residents at a local asylum. During his investigation, Sebastian catches something hooded and ghostly, seemingly killing three of his officers on the asylum's CCTV camera system. The thing then disappears and re-emerges behind him, knocking him out.

That's the beginning. In the demo, Castellanos is standing on a dirt road surrounded by an eerie forest, holding a lantern with his left hand. I had no idea where he was in the overall story, but the darkness spilling out from between the trees was enough to push me forward. I honestly felt a little uncomfortable. I sensed that I was being watched thanks to the ominous atmosphere created by the gritty, eerie visuals and soundtrack. This uncomfortable feeling did not change throughout the entire demo.

Eventually, Castellanos found his way to an old mansion. Before going in, I took a quick look at my inventory: a shotgun with several rounds, a revolver with only four bullets, and medical syringes. We've been here, done that on many occasions with the Resident Evil series, so I didn't sweat with the low ammo supply, knowing that more will likely be found inside.

Essentially, what happened was that once inside and standing in the main lobby, I was greeted by a set of double doors with a lock. This lock had three syringes with tubes that connected to doors located around the lobby. That, of course, meant that I needed to find a way to activate all three syringes and enter the next part of the demo. For me, that never occurred.

I spent most of the demo searching through the mansion's rooms. I'd find ammo here and there, which was mainly used to shoot "zombies" in the face. These monsters won't die unless you light them on fire, so keeping matches on Castellanos is a necessity for survival.

The mansion provided plenty of places to hide – like under the bed and inside cabinets – although I didn't see the need to use these during the demo. There was also a hooded ghost that would sometimes appear behind me and attack, taking a chunk of Castellanos' life with it. These attacks were startling, but I wouldn't go so far as to say I was horrified or scared.

Needless to say, I died a lot. Most of my demo time was spent searching rooms and creeping through the mansion. The visuals were excellent, setting an eerie tone using a lot of dark "dirty" colors. Unfortunately, my time was short, and I had to move on to Battlecry. Honestly, I wouldn't mind playing this demo again when time isn't an issue. There's definitely potential here for a great game, especially if you loved Capcom's original Resident Evil.

As for the upcoming free-to-play Battlecry, the press actually got to play the pre-alpha build after the E3 trailer set the stage. This build only offered three classes to choose from: the Enforcer (Tank), the Tech Archer (Ranger) and the Duelist (Assassin). This build also only provided one map (or WarZone): Overgrown Village.

The game's story takes place after a "cataclysmic" world war at the beginning of the 20th century. The Empires that survived signed The Black Powder Treaty, banning gunpowder and starting the Pansophic Revolution. During this time, the human race put aside disputes on the battleground and chose to send elite warriors into WarZones instead.

Battlecry in its present state was a blast. A number of us played as the Cossacks while another set played as the Royal Marines. Because there is no gunpowder in this alternate timeline, players must rely on melee and basic ranged weapons such as swords, bows, energy-powered blades and more. That made the gameplay feel a bit more personal and frantic.

Battlecry Studios did an excellent job designing the map, allowing players to quickly move through the village using grappling hooks and more. The color palate was also impressive, using bright yellows and reds (the latter of which accented the blood and gore) along with dark browns. The game plays in third-person, allowing gamers to soak up every bit of bloody violence as they slash their way through the enemy team.

Honestly, I spent my time just slashing away at enemies and frantically pressing buttons that pulled up special skills. Each character has its own set of abilities, which depends on Adrenaline. Players can also choose to use their basic weapons and let the Adrenaline reach its maximum capacity, thus unlocking an Ultimate ability that can devastate their foes.

After the demo was over, a Battlecry Studios rep stressed that even though the game will be free-to-play, gamers won't pay to have an advantage. Instead, the upgrades will be visual, such as purchasing new outfits and so on.

Battlecry is slated to go into beta in 2015.

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