Having recently been invited to participate in the closed beta for ChangYou’s upcoming free-to-play FPS Renaissance Heroes, I thought I’d share my thoughts and opinions on how this ambitious shooter is shaping up. Bear in mind that because these are beta impressions, any features I discuss are liable to change before the game’s final release.
Back To Basics
The story behind Renaissance Heroes isn’t too terribly complicated; after the death of famed inventor and artist Leonardo da Vinci, rumors of a secret device he was working on capable of time travel and teleportation begin to circulate and several different factions vie for possession of the blueprints to the device.
The gameplay isn’t much more complicated than the story; either in a free-for-all or team-based setup, players must use a variety of da Vinci-designed weaponry to defeat their opponents and secure victory as they progress, rank up, and unlock new weapons and bonuses. The beta contained several different modes including Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, “Seize The Scroll” (Capture The Flag), and Duel (One Vs. One). There are also several different “mutators” for the various modes such as “Melee Only” and “Hyper Speed.”
The game’s focus is on player vs. player combat but bot matches can be played as well if you need to brush up on the controls without having to worry about getting fragged by other players. Sadly Renaissance Heroes lacks any sort of single-player campaign or cooperative modes so unless you don’t mind repeatedly going up against vastly under-skilled bots, your only option is to step into the crucible of PvP combat.
Combat in Renaissance Heroes is pretty frantic and definitely favors twitch-based gameplay. One unique aspect is how the melee combat works; by pressing shift and switching to your melee weapon, you actually move much faster and, because melee strikes almost always result in a one-hit kill, adopt a steep risk vs. reward dynamic. A “rage” mechanic that builds up every time you’re killed helps to give struggling players an edge but FPS vets still tend to dominate.
Climbing The Ladder
As you play matches and rack up kills, you’ll gain experience and rank up. Completing certain in-game goals will earn you achievements and daily quests and objectives mean there’s never a shortage of goals to shoot for. Gaining ranks allows you to purchase and equip various passive bonuses such as increased melee damage or more starting ammo for your guns.
Renaissance Heroes, as with most F2P titles, also comes with a full-fledged in-game cash shop. Sadly the beta didn’t have much to offer in the way of new weapons aside from temporary 1-day purchases and a majority of the items offered fell into either the passive power ups or character taunts categories. Like most cash shops, purchases can be made with either real currency or credits earned in-game but obviously the former option is the quicker of the two.
An extensive crafting system using purchased materials allows players to upgrade their meager arsenal into some truly devastating weapons. There are even different “craftsmen” you can select to work on your weapon, some having a higher chance of giving your gun a better bonus at the increased risk of failing the process and thus wasting your materials. The entire interface was a bit confusing to navigate however, hopefully the final release of the game will include some basic tutorials.
Room For Improvement
The small number of characters available in the beta (four) meant that a typical 6 vs. 6 match (the largest the beta offered) often had multiple copies of a single character on the same team. While each character did have minor stat/ability differences, the weapon loadouts were the same no matter what. This meant that given the frantic pace of a typical match, really the only noticeable difference of picking a different character was the hands you saw grasping whatever weapon you were using or the sprite you saw performing one of several historically-inaccurate taunts when you successfully fragged an opponent.
The maps, while visually appealing, were rather small, but their size actually worked well with the close-quarters nature of the battles being fought. The game’s website claimed there were eight maps available in the beta but I only saw five. The environments ranged from a sprawling indoor workshop with launchers that could fling you halfway across the map, to a quaint outdoor villa complete with working fountains and clever ambush spots behind tapestries, and even some old ruins with various teleporters scattered around the landscape, perfect for sneaking up on your foes when they least expected it.
Since Renaissance Heroes is a F2P title, obviously there isn’t much cause for players to be picky in terms of content. However the mere presence of a cash shop is always bound to set some players on edge, and the the fact that this cash shop has weapons and power-ups for sale, clearly giving players with deeper pockets a slight edge, doesn’t bode well for thrifty gamers who plan to play the game regularly.
With a classic “Unreal Tournament” premise encased in a unique Renaissance Italy-meets-sci fi framework, Renaissance Heroes is certainly a game that die-hard FPS/competitive multiplayer fans should keep on their radar in the coming months. Hopefully the game’s final release will bring with it a cash shop that’s more accessible to gamers trying to maintain a budget as well as an expanded roster and selection of weapons. In the meantime more info on the game can be found at the official Renaissance Heroes website.