While the Twilight series may have you believe vampires have perfected physical features and sparkle when exposed to sunlight, Nosgoth violently rejects that model. Vampires are as vampires should be; strictly creatures of death and Nosgoth lets you live it. Nosgoth is an upcoming free-to-play multiplayer action game featuring the war between humans and vampires and, to cut to the chase, one of the most fun multiplayer games I have played since Call of Duty 4 . As such, I shall be comparing these games in many aspects to see just how similar, yet refreshingly different, they are, because let’s face it, there are enough Call of Duty games as is.
Nosgoth features a 4v4 setup: four humans fighting against four vampires. The standard team deathmatch has two rounds, constrained to five minutes or thirty kills, with players switching sides from humans to vampires (and vice versa). The reason for this? Humans and vampires are so different, it just wouldn’t be fair not to! While in CoD4, players had the ability to choose their loadout, including their primary and secondary weapon, types of grenade and perks, Nosgoth has gone a step further: choose your class itself. There are currently four classes of humans and four of vampires. Each class has a completely different play style and skillset. The hunter, for example, is a human who uses a ball and chain to restrain enemies, while shooting them with a crossbow. While the theme of a close-to-mid quarter marksman remains constant, players are free to choose the type of crossbow, as well as abilities, like the nature of the ball and chain. The scout, on the other hand, has a powerful bow and is designed to work from a distance, having escape-based abilities.
So far this seems fairly standard, which leads us to the vampires. While humans have a normal range of abilities, vampires have no such constraints. Primarily being melee fighters, vampires come with much more interesting abilities, like mind control, or the ability to turn into a human and deceive them. Again, each of the four vampires currently released have their own play style, which the player can modify by changing their loadout, but to a greater degree than humans. The Tyrant, for example, can be played as a distracting tank, who charges in, stuns, then activates a damage reduction skill, only to then scamper away on next-to-no health while his team uses the opportunity to finish off the humans. Yet, with a few changes, the tyrant can become an area of effect (AoE) nuke, jumping onto the unsuspecting group of humans in true Hulk style, then smashing the ground to decimate nearby enemies, finishing off the remaining humans with a few swift punches. Yes, this is indeed the noob-tube of Nosgoth.
By allowing the vampires to have such a remarkable skill-set, Nosgoth has out-shined CoD in the variability of matches. One of the reasons I believe CoD 4 was my favourite was because the maps were small enough that you never had to run around for ages trying to find people. While map sizes of the two are wholly comparable, Nosgoth literally has another dimension. While humans can sprint as they please, vampires can climb absolutely everything. The effect of this is to take a small enough map, but add so much more depth to it. One of my recent experiences of the later CoD games has been running around for the entire game trying to actually find someone. The discrepancy in controls between humans and vampires creates a unique ambience in the game, creating the true feeling that humans are being slowly hunted and picked off by the vampires, either from an aerial attack by a flying sentinel, or suddenly realising that there is one too many among you. Coupled with the dark palate of this game, players can really get into the game compared to CoD 4, where the only real fear was turning the corner to confront yet another camper. After playing this game, your ears become attuned to listen for the low growls and grunts of vampires and to the gentle creaking of floorboards above your head. But this itself could limit the accessibility of the game. Its violence and jump scares (because having a vampire suddenly jump out at you from a dark corner does indeed make you jump) may put off some people from the game. In addition, the versatility of vampires makes them simply better than humans much better. It almost makes the game more boring when you play as a human; just waiting for the next over-powered attack can really leave you raging sometimes. There are other little imbalances that make humans seem a little too weak: a human with a sprint enhancement can still be caught by a vampire simply auto-attacking. While CoD 4 may have been simpler, it was certainly well-balanced in this nature. As a result, I never felt bored or tired at any point in the game.
This problem has snowballed into one of Nosgoth’s biggest issues: leavers. Some people simply don’t want to play on the human side and leave the game, resulting in one side outnumbering the other. Worse yet is when a player queues up, hoping for a fresh game, only to join an existing game where the previously outnumbered humans are currently 3 – 29 in kills. It’s really quite annoying when that happens. In CoD4, I never felt that leavers were as much of a problem, however this problem will likely disappear when the game gains a larger player base, so vacant spots are filled up much quicker, eliminating the dreaded 3 v 4.
The game itself is primarily balanced by skill, not level. This means that a level 5 could get matched up with a level 25. While this may be fair way of match-making, considering how much of a skill-based game this is, the hefty costs of unlocking new perks, upgrades and new classes means that, when I do unlock a new class, trying it out puts my team at a disadvantage, as my ‘skill’ is measured based on my win record with another class.
Nonetheless, this game is still a beta. Psyonix has done an amazing job so far, have recognised that these problems exist and are working to fix them. There will soon be an update to alter the match-making system and add more classes to each side, which will hopefully restore some balance. Ultimately, despite these issues, this game uses its creativity to surpass the stability of CoD4. I loved the diverse range of strategies available and the innate synergy that players of this game have. While this game may not be fully released for even another year, when it does release, it has the potential to join the eSports phenomenon. I highly anticipate its full release, and the mac client more so!