Preview

Lost Planet 3

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Over the last year, Capcom and developer Spark Unlimited have made me a devoted fan of Lost Planet 3 after seeing the game’s singleplayer campaign in action. I’ve written no less than three previews on this component of the action adventure game alone at this point, and I know as much as I want to about the solo experience before I play the full game in August.

But what about that competitive multiplayer?

Up until E3 2013, I didn’t know much about the online modes included in Lost Planet 3 save for the fact that they would be there. What I really wanted to know was how multiplayer in Lost Planet 3 has changed and evolved since Lost Planet 2 and how it will differentiate itself from other online games. After picking up a controller at Capcom’s E3 booth to test it out for myself, I proceeded to find out.


Lost Planet 3 Trailer – E3 2013


In the final version of Lost Planet 3 multiplayer, there will be four different game modes spread across six maps as the Snow Pirates (a scrappy clan of rebels) fight against NEVEC (a malevolent energy company), and during my time with the game I was tasked with picking up canisters (which acted as flags, essentially) and returning them to marked locations on the map, as well as planting bombs in different areas. Naturally, the opposing team thought these were both bad ideas and attempted to stop my team from meeting our objectives.

Of the six maps, I saw about three that ranged from frozen caves and snow-encrusted outdoor areas, with metallic corridors and glowing power beacons making up the majority of the scenery. That may not sound like a great variety of surroundings, but the level designs themselves made each map very different and even after a few minutes of play it became easier to recognise key landmarks around which to familiarise myself – incredibly important when getting to know a multiplayer level in order to maximise your effectiveness.

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At least one of the maps featured changing weather, too, and in the middle of a match a mighty snow storm kicked up that significantly reduced visibility and added a whole new challenge to contend with, and when trying to take down towering Akrid enemies in order to get some bonus T-Eng or attempting to escort a massive ‘Battlecat’ mining vehicle to safety under the duress of enemy fire, you’ll need all the visual queues you can set your eyes on.

Luckily you can rely on a Lost Planet series staple – the Grapple Hook – to zip around the levels and get out of a tough situation, or even chase down an enemy trying to escape your wrath. Simply aiming at almost any surface or ledge and hitting ‘Left Bumper’ on the controller will send you zooming towards your chosen destination, and even though my aptitude for aiming exactly where I wanted to go was shaky at first, after twenty minutes of play I was using this excellent traversal technique to the full.

As far as differentiating itself from the crowd, this ziplining ability in Lost Planet 3 multiplayer will do wonders and I can see that playing other games will seem a little more difficult without such an affordance, while adapting your own playstyle will be key in taking full advantage of the Grapple Hook – why take the stairs when you can rocket yourself up instead?

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There will be a reason to stay on the ground (at least for a little while) in Lost Planet 3 because the series’ fan-favourite mechs, the Vital Suits, are back for multiplayer despite being ‘replaced’ in the singleplayer campaign with much larger rigs. In competitive matches online, however, Vital Suits are small almost exoskeleton-like mechs that let you rain rockets and chaingun fire down on enemies, but if you encounter an opponent also controlling a VS you’ll need to make use of the dash ability to outmanoeuvre them, or make a quick escape if you get too damaged.

When you’re not ziplining in the air or destroying enemies in Vital Suits, as a regular soldier you’ll have access to almost a dozen different weapons – from rifles and shotguns, to Particle Throwers and the crossbow-like Valkyrie – to continue to take the fight to the opposing team. Each weapon can be fitted with alternate ammunition types, too, so with the hold of the reload button you can swap ammo and deliver volleys of ricocheting rounds from your shotgun, or dominate an area with crackling and contorting lightning shots from your Particle Thrower – always a fun time.

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You’ll also be able to choose from a range of different deployable items, like mines, turrets and ammunition for allies, as well as decide on the special abilities you’d like to use (which could be equated to Perks in other multiplayer games). After completing a match, you’re awarded with experience points to level up your character and a mess of credits to buy new weapons and upgrades, character skins, abilities and deployables.

What’s interesting about the character progression system of Lost Planet 3 multiplayer is how it’s presented. Using the ‘Progression Sphere,’ you can rotate a 3D representation of your current and potential unlocks across different classes and fill in different upgrade cells before filling in the entire sphere. It’s here that you’ll be able to select which improvements you want to make to your character and it’s all represented in a very clean and understandable way without having to swap back and forth between menus.

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Team-play is of course a huge factor in determining your success or failure in a multiplayer game, and it’s no less the case in Lost Planet 3 and I witnessed first hand how a tight team of players can run riot over the opposition. Unfortunately the players on my teams were content to wander off on their own and leave me to complete objectives, which allowed the other side to control the matches as they moved together in unison. Reviving downed team-mates crawling about the floor searching for help is a must, but if an enemy reaches you before you’re revived, it’s a quick boot stomp to Lights Out Town.

You can mash a button to try to stay in the match until a team-mate finds you, or simply tap out to respawn faster. What I found interesting is that you can be revived as many times as you want on a single life, but each subsequent down state will require a faster mashing of the button to stay alive while waiting to be revived, which is a clever way of making it more difficult to keep that death count down. If you’ve got ‘Noxious Gas’ equipped, however, if you see an enemy approaching you can always drop it and choke them out, taking someone with you in the process.

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In terms of its third-person gameplay and overall multiplayer progression system, Lost Planet 3 online will be very familiar to fans of these kinds of games, but the addition of the Grapple Hook ability, enemy Akrid rampaging around the levels, controllable Vital Suits and other vehicles, and the alternate ammunition types and range of deployables will make Lost Planet 3 multiplayer a very different proposition in this category. The interesting Progression Sphere also seems to uncomplicated what has become rather confusing in recent years and could make character customisation a lot more friendly to multiplayer newcomers.

Combined with what I believe will be an extraordinary singleplayer experience, Lost Planet 3 multiplayer will be the absolute cherry on the top when the full game launches on August 27th in North America and August 30th in Europe across Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.


Lost Planet 3: Multiplayer Screenshots


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