Heroes of Ruin (Hands-On) (Nintendo 3DS) Preview

By Adam Riley 04.08.2011 11

Review for Heroes of Ruin (Hands-On) on Nintendo 3DS

US developer n-Space may still be mainly known by many for its work with Nintendo on Geist for the GameCube, yet in recent years the team has become experts in the handheld field, primarily on Nintendo DS. Call of Duty: Black Ops, GoldenEye 007, TRON: Evolution, and Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 are just a few examples of the DS games it has worked on, and amidst claims of the company’s demise, news leaked that n-Space actually has three projects in the pipeline for the Nintendo 3DS. One of these is in collaboration with Square Enix (and the recently acquired Eidos arm) called Heroes of Ruin. Cubed3 was given as extensive hands-on test courtesy of the extremely friendly and enthusiastic Alastair Cornish, External Designer at Square Enix's London studio.

Many will, and already have, taken one look at Heroes of Ruin and stuck it in that sub-par Gauntlet clone box that so many other games of its ilk deservedly land in. I preferred to keep an open mind. Being from n-Space, a company that I have quite the soft spot for, when I spied the solitary 3DS unit featuring the game at Nintendo’s recent 3DS event in London, there was definitely no chance of missing the opportunity to try it out. Upon jumping onto the system, though, magically Alastair Cornish from Square Enix appeared, almost out of thin air! Square Enix is apparently so eager to show everyone how impressive Heroes of Ruin really is that it went as far as being the only company to have not only a truly delectable representative on-hand to field any general questions (a mysterious person who shall remain nameless), but a member of the development team as well (Alastair).

Alastair was there to guide people through one of the early missions, in a two-player wireless mode, where once one of the heroes of ruin had been selected and customised in a fashion of your own choice, various different objectives had to be completed whilst en-route to an encounter with the Spirit of Michedele, which had to ultimately be despatched. This involved having to trek across a fantasy world laden with vicious spiders, fire-breathing beasts, plenty of treacherous underground paraphernalia, and eerie aspects such as piles of skulls and bones to help set the dark tone, all in an effort to locate the spirit. This meant also having to deactivate a force-field by taking part in a puzzle element where hitting targets toggled certain others on or off with the aim to turn them all off, and eventually take part in a fight against a tree inhabited by Michedele (called the Spellbound Treant in the demo), attempting to find its weak spot and striking the decisive blow for victory.

To ensure players are sucked into Heroes of Ruin right from the start, the fantasy tale spun is one of war that has raged for over a hundred years, but ceased when powerful Lords instilled such fear into all and sundry that it brought a tentative peace to the land. Unfortunately, this tenuous treaty has been threatened as Ataraxis, one of the Lords and ruler of Nexus, has become stricken with a deadly curse. Should his position become weakened, war could indeed break out once more. Therefore, a call to arms is made, with a reward for whoever can find the cure, which is where Heroes of Ruin’s four lead characters step in.

Screenshot for Heroes of Ruin (Hands-On) on Nintendo 3DS

The top-down viewpoint used during the entirety of Heroes of Ruin showed off some strong visuals that illustrated both the power of the 3DS and expertise of the development team, with no slowdown creeping in, no matter how many enemies started bombarding the group of warriors. At the time of this demo trial, the level of 3D depth was not quite as strong or effective as expected, yet playing in an event environment was not exactly conducive to the sort of relaxing experience you would have playing such a game at home or on the road, so perhaps the effect will impress more in the final build.

Control throughout was via the highly accurate Circle Pad, although potions, weapons and items could be used quickly via the Directional Pad and use of the touch-screen, with special moves mapped to the face buttons (including a handy ‘healing circle’ move). Everything has been streamlined to be as accessible as possible, without interrupting the flow of the adventure due to clunky menu options. Handling of each character was simple and pleasant enough, with triple-tap attacks triggering combination moves to destroy enemies quickly, shoulder barges to catch monsters off-guard, and a defensive pose to prevent certain attacks from causing damage. Keeping an eye out for enemies turning red was also key since it meant they could not be hurt for a short time, and attacking whilst in that state left your own character vulnerable to counter-attack.

Rather than have a massive on-screen arrow obliterating most of the player’s view, instead a handy map is located on the touch-screen to keep track of others that have wandered off. However, there was a slight drawback here because when a team member had wandered too far away, it became quite the chore to figure out what direction to head in, so the idea was proposed of an on-screen arrow only appearing if the team has gone a set distance away, limiting the directional hint to a distance-related trigger only. Considering the code that was played was still at the pre-alpha stage, it was mentioned that ideas for additions or changes were most welcomed.

Screenshot for Heroes of Ruin (Hands-On) on Nintendo 3DS

As for the characters themselves, the two beast-like creatures, the male and female fighters are actually mercenaries, and dependent on who you choose there will be a wide selection of customisation for their weapons, armour and general class abilities, with major changes actually affecting their visual appearance, similar to how characters in Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies altered when equipping new apparel. There is a sword-wielding Vindicator out to redeem himself from shame brought upon him in the past, a Gunslinger who acts as an evasive fighter that uses pistols and bombs and is driven forward by his need to clear up heavy debt, a Savage exiled from his tribe that wishes to gain more power and glory, as well as an Alchitect from a distant academy that can cast magic and wants to become the world’s greatest spell caster. Each one has their own unique power that comes into use at varying times.

Equipment can be earned after missions have been completed, purchased, or picked up from fallen enemies on the field. An interesting aspect comes from selling goods, however, since items can be sold immediately after picking them up, yet keeping them in storage for longer and bartering at the right time can result in more money being accrued in the long-run. Additionally, there are plans to incorporate the buying and selling aspect into a StreetPass mode, called the Traders’ Network, whereby items you wish to buy or sell can be traded when passing others with Heroes of Ruin StreetPass data stored on their Nintendo 3DS system.

Despite being at such an early stage, though, it was clear that a lot of care and attention is going into the Heroes of Ruin project, along with plans of grandeur on the horizon. For instance, not only can three other players join the action at any time wirelessly, but they can also do so via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection (giving a personal feel of Secret of Mana). One uncertainty at the moment is if this will be country- or region-specific, but hopefully Japanese, US, European, Australian gamers alike will be able to enjoy this sumptuous title together. There are two especially stunning features, the first being how the difficulty level automatically scales itself depending on how many characters are playing, which is a key point since some genre stable-mates fall foul of growing far too easy when three others jump in. Secondly, anyone playing as part of the online experience can simply pause their game without having a detrimental effect on either their character’s health (enemies simply ignore the paused character), or the balance for the others still playing (the difficulty adjusts temporarily).

Screenshot for Heroes of Ruin (Hands-On) on Nintendo 3DS

For those thinking this is a mindless hack ‘n slash game, rather like X-Men Legends and X-Men Ultimate Alliance, Heroes of Ruin is finely balanced and even has role-playing elements mixed in, with the ability to tweak different aspects of the characters’ equipment (80,000 weapons spread across the four classes) and other statistics after certain amounts of enemies have been killed and experience gained. At specific points players will be able to attribute a set number of points to various areas of their combatants in order to tailor a character to whatever they desire. n-Space, on the other hand, seemingly prefers to label Heroes of Ruin as an action-adventure, although, personally, throwing the term ‘RPG’ into the mix is definitely not going to hurt, especially given the drop-in, drop-out multiplayer aspect personally seems reminiscent of the good old days of Secret of Mana.

Heroes of Ruin is all about attention to detail, and there is also the option of looking at fallen items briefly or with greater scrutiny, as when wandering around, slaying a plentiful supply of the 227 types of monsters, should something drop, simply wandering over will initially identify 1.) If it can be equipped by your character, 2.) Whether or not it improves your statistics; but if you wish to see intricate details, menus can be delved into for such a purpose. There is a randomisation engine incorporated into Heroes of Ruin for many parts of the adventure, even including the areas visited so that each experience feels fresh. After accepting a number of missions from people within the game’s hub world, the Nexus, it is a case of being thrown into a randomly generated environment, and sometimes Heroes of Ruin actually forces players to re-enter some areas, so each time it differ to prevent boredom kicking in.

Finally, it was mentioned that there is a ‘Friendship’ feature that is separated from the standard in-game character levelling system. Basically, Heroes of Ruin collates data related to who you generally play with, and a stronger bond forms the more you play alongside the same person, which can lead to eventual bonuses that will only be found by building up levels via the Friendship system. To put it frankly, n-Space and the team at Square Enix London are attempting to cover all possible aspects with Heroes of Ruin to make it the exemplar product on 3DS in 2012, and if anything has been overlooked, the crew are eager to have people join the official site and share feedback.

Screenshot for Heroes of Ruin (Hands-On) on Nintendo 3DS

Final Thoughts

Heroes of Ruin is already shaping up to be a thoroughly entertaining fantasy adventure, with plenty of intriguing missions to take part in, a great storyline to become engrossed with, plus the superb addition of not only local wireless drop-in/drop-out multiplayer action, but support for online group action. With heaps more expected before the final release, including StreetPass features, SpotPass quest downloads and rare item gifts, plus daily challenges from the community website, new tasks downloaded directly to the game for at least a year, the ability to take requests on-board for new downloads due to the one-week lead time required for its download content, and even voice chat when playing online, Heroes of Ruin is already becoming one of the most anticipated 3DS games of 2012.

Developer

n-Space

Publisher

Square Enix

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10 (3 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

I was interested in this game before, but after hearing you talk about it, now I'm really excited!

Rhyel (guest) 04.08.2011#2

I can't believe. This game was in E3 2011 and no one make a footage video of it. (3ds Blog does but I cant see anything)

I listen the two RuinCast and a Trailer will be launched very near. Smilie

There are two especially stunning features, the first being how the difficulty level automatically scales itself depending on how many characters are playing, which is a key point since some genre stable-mates fall foul of growing far too easy when three others jump in. Secondly, anyone playing as part of the online experience can simply pause their game without having a detrimental effect on either their character’s health (enemies simply ignore the paused character), or the balance for the others still playing (the difficulty adjusts temporarily).

Wow, these two are some really damn awesome features. Got me really excited about the final game! Smilie Everything else sounds really cool as well. Definitely one to watch out for next year! Smilie

Damian (guest) 04.08.2011#4

Are they really going to include stuff fans want?! Smilie

Best get thinking of ideas to suggest then Smilie

Some other details from the Ruincast No.2, courtesy of AceBandage on NeoGAF:

-No PvP (will consider it for future sequels)
-24 level set types (infinite levels, though since it's randomly gnerated)
-Lots of character customization
-Three skill trees for each class
-Can save at any time, single or multiplayer, and not lose XP/Items

Those last three points I knew about, but forgot to add into the preview since I had a LOT to remember off the top of my head...sorry Smilie

EDIT: By the way, yes, if people have ideas, please let me know and I'll pass them over to the team Smilie

( Edited 04.08.2011 21:46 by jesusraz )

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

I'm liking these save anywhere features that are creeping into more and more games these days, especially RPGs. Or at the very least, a lot more save points as opposed to only a few.

Tyler (guest) 05.08.2011#7

All portable games should have a save anywhere option. The amount of times my battery dies after leaving the 3DS in sleep mode is ridiculous.

Loving the sound of the online freeze option as well!

Jakub (guest) 05.08.2011#8

So each and every dungeon is randomly generated? That sounds cool. But what about tile sets? Are we going to see the same stuff regurgitated over and over, or is there quite a bit of variety?

Tyler (guest) said:
All portable games should have a save anywhere option. The amount of times my battery dies after leaving the 3DS in sleep mode is ridiculous.

Loving the sound of the online freeze option as well!


The 3DS dies in sleep mode? Jesus, that's bad. I've left my original DS in sleep mode for what seems like a week at a time before now. The PSP has the best sleep function though. Acts like the sleep mode on a laptop does, and uses no power.

Re-emphasising my point on save anywhere features - it does need to be done. Was playing FF9 today and didn't get a chance to save after a boss. Was close to a save point but ended up battling a twat that wiped me out unexpectedly, so had to reload and do it again. We've all had these extremely annoying instances, but with a save anywhere option, I'd have saved right after that boss. Just seems a no-brainer to me.

Rob64 (guest) 06.08.2011#10

Is it me or does this sound too good to be true? Honestly, what HAVEN'T they thought of?! Smilie

I love me some Diablo and this sounds just like it! Smilie

Sounds like a fantastic game.

But that said, calling it an "action adventure" seems really pushing it.
Zelda in AA. Okami is AA. BG&E is AA. Little Big Adventure is AA......this is a hack and slash RPG (from the looks of it) and there is NOTHING wrong with that Smilie

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