If there is one word to describe the co-op shooter Livelock from developer Tuque Games, it is this: hectic. Life after humanity is anything but a walk in the park thanks to corrupted machines.
The top-down shooter puts players in the body of what they call a Capital Intellect, a high-powered fighting machine uploaded with a human consciousness. Basically, a calamity more or less caused the extinction of humanity, and Capital Intellects are a tool in the arsenal intent of bringing them back from the brink.
For the player, this means they run through a series of campaign missions with various objectives as one of three characters with unique loadouts and abilities. As they progress, the base weapons and abilities unlock, and then upgrades that expand upon the basic ones are made available as they continue to accrue points. By the time a player zooms through the campaign three times - once on each level of difficulty - they should have the entire kit to play with as they please.
For my demo, the developers dropped me in a three-player co-op mission with the intended purpose being to destroy a series of defensive turrets and make our way across an enemy-controlled bridge. The corrupted little machines came hard and fast the entire time, and I more than once thought about how it was a sort of top-down bullet hell.
But each enemy has a specific pattern or weakness inherent in them. The one with the circling shield? Either use a weapon that can pierce, wait for the shield to rotate away from covering them, or drop explosive over the shield. Bigger enemies with lots of health? One weapon doesn’t more damage the longer it gets to ramp up on a target. In short, each critter has its quirks.
And that also means that skill often outweighs any mechanical advantage a player might have. For example, I may have unlocked everything there is to unlock - including several cosmetic items from enhanced machines that can spawn randomly - but someone that it just straight up better at the game could outscore me easily despite being many, many levels behind me.
In addition to the campaign mode - which is what I played - the team’s working on a mode where both the map and enemies are procedurally generated. Players can load into this mode and there will be new objectives, new critters to crush, and the map should be entirely different each time. Even better? The “score” - see also, experience - will transfer back and forth between the two modes, meaning that players can continue to power up the characters they want without keeping the two separate.
That’s really the crux of the whole thing: playing with friends using a bunch of abilities that are fun to throw down and cause lots of pretty lights and explosions on the screen. During my session, I managed not to die while being an absolute terrible shot the entire time. If I can do it, pretty much anyone can.
Livelock is scheduled to launch in 2016 on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.