E3 2016 – Livelock Hands-On Preview – Lock and Load

Livelock is publisher Perfect World’s first pay-to-play game, with the rest of their diverse catalog free-to-play. A benefit to gamers should be that there are no microtransactions which make the game pay-to-win; as well, it also ensures a baseline level of interest in all players, since they cared enough about the game to pony up some cash. While this is a shift for the publisher, it may guarantee a stronger source of income for newly-minted developer Tuque Games. Whether or not this strategy pays off remains to be seen.

Knowledgeable Dev

Tuque Games appears to be new to the scene, but don’t assume that means the team has little to no experience. Founder Jeff Hattem, for example, boasts 15 years of experience, with work done on game series such as Far Cry and Splinter Cell. The author of the sci-fi book Robopocalypse, Daniel H. Wilson, was also with the team from the early going. These are passionate people who hope to see their vision come to life.

Livelock is a top-down, third-person, twin-stick co-op shooter. Three main characters have been revealed thus far, each with MMO-like roles. Hex, for instance, is in a DPS role, causing damage from medium range, with abilities that include dropping mines behind you, activating cloaking camouflage, and calling in an orbital strike. Vanguard serves as the tank, soaking up damage up close and personal while also providing for front-line defense in the form of a shield, and the ability to shake up the ground and damage nearby foes. Last is what any good team needs, the support character Catalyst. “She” (these are all robots, after all) can lay down drones and generally clear the way of enemies so that the team can advance.

First, Some History

The story of Livelock is fairly well fleshed-out. It takes place in the 22nd century, after a Gamma Ray Burst, one of the most violent explosions of energy in the known universe, hit Earth and wiped out all life. Humanity was at a point where machines sported advanced AI, and thus it was these machines that inherited the Earth…much like their creators, the machines have been engaged in endless war ever since, with factions known as Rogue Clusters vying for domination.

If you’ve played a twin-stick shooter before, then you’ll feel right at home with Livelock. The face buttons perform your character’s special moves, while the shoulder buttons perform actions such as melee, dodge, and unleashing your Super move. Each of the game’s three classes are customizable, and you can expect to unlock various more powerful moves as you progress through the game.

Livelock features a full-fledged story mode, which can be played through solo or with up to two other players; no word on same-system co-op, which would be a shame. Beyond the campaign, there is also a survival mode, which boasts dynamic level generation to ensure no two playthroughs are ever the same.

Best With Teams

During my short time with the game, I quickly came to rely on my teammates’ skills in order to progress through the level. I played as Hex, the DPS character. Using my rifle in combination with my cluster mines, I could set up enemies to be knocked out in quick succession, and whenever we lured a larger enemy out into the open I would pound them with my orbital strike. All the while, the tank player would take most of the damage and support would be laying down suppressive fire or otherwise steering the enemy towards the rest of the team.

Fans of the twin-stick shooter genre looking for something a bit less twitchy, and a little more tactical, will most likely find Livelock fits the bill. With the game having a more traditional sales model, it will be interesting to see how well the game is supported past its launch. Livelock is currently scheduled for a release sometime later in 2016.