Arkane Studios' upcoming title Deathloop will offer a pretty big deviation from the studio’s previous work on Immersive Sim titles such as Dishonored and Prey. It's not often we get games with such an interesting setup in the AAA industry, most of the time we get a rehash after rehash of the same old formula, as most developers shy away from risky concepts. For Deathloop, Arkane decided to shake things up and offer something different.
In broad terms, you could describe Deathloop as Groundhog Day set in 60s mixed with Dishonored and Hitman with an added sprinkle of multiplayer, but things are slightly more complicated than that. So let's dive right in and explore the game's main features.
The game is set on the mysterious island of Blackreef that is trapped in an endless time loop. The island is split into four districts that you can explore freely at any time of the day you choose. Timing is important as each district has different things going on depending on the time of day, and the main targets have their own schedule. On one of the maps for example there's a street party and a snowstorm going on. Depending on the time of day you choose to visit the map, you could miss the party, while if you come after the snowstorm blows over, a previously inaccessible area can now be accessed thanks to the effect of the snowstorm freezing the sea over.
You can play as two different characters. With Colt, you'll experience the main story. His mission is to break the time loop gripping the island by killing eight Visionaries inhabiting the island in a single day. If he fails the loop resets, but you start another day armed with knowledge you gained in the previous run. Knowledge gained of the main target's routines, and changes happening on each of the four maps are key for breaking the loop. The developers even recommend using a notepad while playing to gather as many clues as possible. In addition to Colt, players can also choose to play as Julianna and invade into other players campaign with a single goal of killing Colt, and stopping him from breaking the loop.
Once Julianna invades your game you are immediately notified over the radio. She announces her presence with a series of taunts, and traps you in that part of the map as she locks the exit doors. To escape, you have to either kill her or stealthily evade her and escape from the trap by hacking the device that controls the exits. Since Julianna can pretty much ruin your entire run by killing you, Arkane added some safety nets to avoid frustrating the players too much.
If Colt is in a time and place without any main targets around, Julianna can't appear and you can explore freely without fear of her ambushing you. Then there's the Reprise ability that grants Colt three lives per day, and can be replenished by killing Julianna. If that's not enough, the multiplayer component is completelly optional, and players can choose to have AI controlled Julianna within campaign.
The gameplay will be familiar to Dishonored players as it shares the same general idea of offering players a lot of options to tackle combat. You have a variety of ranged weapons from pistols to sniper rifles, while Dishonored players will be familiar with some of the powers Colt can wield.
Deathloop's Shift is similar in function to Dishonored's Blink, while Nexus functions similar to Dishonored 2's Domino power. To unlock new powers players will have to seek out Slabs, which are among the rarest items in Deathloop. Most of the Slabs can be aquired by defeating some of the eight Visionaries, while some are hidden around the gameworld.
In addition to Slabs the game features Trinkets which function almost identical to Dishonored's Bonecharms, or Prey's Chipsets. They give you powerfull buffs, and you can only equip a limited number of them. Some of them give you an ability to jump higher, run faster, while some change the properties of your weapons. Every weapon, power, Trinket or piece of gear you aquire in your run will be transfered to your next one, so you'll stil have progression despite repeating the same day over and over. Since you can ammass quite an arsenal during playthrough, Arkane will keep you from becoming overpowered by limiting the amount of gear you can carry. So on the start of each of your runs you'll have to choose your loadout, you'll be able to carry three guns, your knife a hacking device and 2 powers.
Deathloop is set to release on September 14, this year and judging by all the info and footage we received so far we're in for a treat. In the endless sea of same old ideas with most developers in the AAA industry playing it safe Deathloop is a breath of fresh air.
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