Sacred 3 Preview
Has it really been six years since Sacred 2 was released? Indeed, we are getting old. While the wait for the third game in the series hasn’t been as prolonged as, say, the wait for Diablo 3, it’s been tough on fans of the franchise. Last year, we got a side-scrolling excuse in the way of Sacred Citadel, and if you weren’t too happy with the given characters and style, you aren’t going to like the direction in which Sacred 3 is headed.
Inevitably, this game is going to be compared to its predecessors, and this is what most people are interested in. So let us begin by saying that the only thing Sacred 2 and Sacred 3 have in common is the camera. And even this is a stretch, since this outing features a much more dynamic, in-your-face viewpoint. Instead of refining the ideas the first two games chose to represent, the developers decided to go a different route with this title. I’ve been replaying Devil May Cry 4 lately, and the amount of similarities between that game and the one we currently have at hand is staggering. At its current state, Sacred 3 is not a hack ‘n’ slash RPG. Instead, it’s more like DMC or Lords of Shadows in regards of combat. Of course, this is a much simpler game without the complicated combos and control schemes, but the basic idea behind it seems to be the same. And holy cow, is it fun. Breaking between the two sub-genres, Sacred 3 combines the simplicity of clicking and skill management with the hit feedback and badassery games such as God of War are known for. Blood flows (sprays, actually) while swords, axes and maces cling, and everything serves as a reminder that your character is here to kick some serious ass. However, it’s important to note that those of you who want to play an RPG set in the Sacred universe are going to be disappointed, because it’s not just the combat that has gotten a revamp.
Levelling up, for example, is not an exhilarating skillpoint-fest that it used to be. By gaining a level, the character in question gains new attacks/abilities that upgrade his/her existing skill set. Rather surprisingly, the player is also quite limited when trying to combine these skills, as not everything can be used at the same time. It’s a rigid and unimaginative system, and somewhat at odds with the surprisingly visceral combat. Things could change in the final version, but since it’s less than a month away, hoping for this will probably prove futile. One of the good additions to the character capabilities is the evasive roll. This also doubles as an offensive and movement roll, as it’s faster, safer and cooler than walking is. It’s also terrifyingly easy to spam this thing around, so expect people to roll their way around the levels very often. Another aspect of gameplay that tries to add depth to combat are the Weapon Spirits. These are basically ghosts of creatures/people that are freed by killing monsters. They provide both passive and active bonuses, but aren’t all that useful if you’re playing solo. These buffs are obviously designed with co-op in mind, which brings us to another matter.
Sacred 3 will be all about cooperative multiplayer. Actually, even if you are playing alone, AI takes over the other three characters to compensate for your lack of social interaction. The reasoning behind this is beyond me, as some people are more than happy to kick monsters in the shin by themselves. At least nobody’s forced to play online all the time. Do note, however, that Sacred 3 seems to be nary a step away from that.
If all this got you thinking about how loot drops and equipment works when playing co-op, let me put your troubled mind to rest – there’s no loot, and you will only rarely come across a shiny piece of armor or a new weapon. The enemies won’t drop anything but gold and healing orbs to reward your killing, and the only way to get a chance to earn new gear is by killing bosses. These will drop a weapon or, if you’re lucky, armor for you to equip at the end of the level. Why, no, there’s no inventory to speak of, and the gold is used to upgrade skills. At this point, most of the choices in Sacred 3’s design and gameplay are mind-boggling, but there’s one very simple explanation behind all this, and it comes in the way of the preview version’s control scheme. I played this early build of the game on PC, and couldn’t use keyboard/mouse because it’s currently not supported. I actually had to use the X360 controller. Make no mistake, Sacred 3 is a console-centric game with what seems to be a watered down RPG system reminiscent of Sacred Citadel. Still, I had great fun with what is a mostly bugless and stable game. The graphics are good enough, and post-processing makes everything seem really pretty, not to mention the lovely particle effects. As it currently stands, Sacred 3 is going to be a fun, if limited experience. I can see myself having an absolute blast with friends during the first play through, but I doubt I’ll look into it after that. This all could, of course, prove wrong by the time Sacred 3 goes gold. I sure hope so, because the combat system certainly makes it an engaging experience through and through. Too bad everything else seems to be going the wrong way.