21. Nov, 2016
* Let it Die is a free-to-play game scheduled to release in 2016 for PlayStation 4 with Remote Play support. Travel and accommodations for this Hands-On Preview in Los Angeles were provided by GungHo Online Entertainment.
I recently had the opportunity to spend some significant time with the upcoming free-to-play game Let It Die, the new hack and slash action game developed by Grasshopper Manufacture, the people behind No More Heroes and Shadows of the Damned.
The world of Let It Die revolves around the Tower, a structure filled with death at every turn. The main objective is to climb the tower which becomes progressively more difficult with each floor. The floors are connected by escalators and elevators with a decent variety of enemy types and bosses on the way.
Players start with the bare minimum, and by bare I mean you start in your underwear and nothing else, not even a weapon. You begin at your home base and from there you go into the tower because anyone with two hands has a fighting chance.
My first go attempt wasn’t too rough and the enemies I faced were fairly easy to deal with since I took things slow. Most enemies have clear attack animations with dodging and blocking being key to success.
Luckily after defeating a few, they began to drop weapons and even clothing. I did not look very fashionable or capable of inflicting much damage, but I was slowly making progress.
Surprisingly, I found the combat to be rather fun. I tend to be wary of hack and slash titles, but the gameplay is smooth and the creativity in weapons was appreciated.
… a stylish finisher …
My favorite among the weapons I had the chance to use was the iron because punching people with an iron is entertaining especially when the steamer goes off. II also came across machetes, bats, and an occasional gun.
As you build momentum your character builds up a Rage meter that pays off when Triangle is pressed during a melee attack. Doing so makes an attack more powerful and it builds to what equates to a stylish finisher.
I kept forgetting to use it unless I was overrun with enemies. Then it became important to use to get out of tough situations. Once I got used to using it the game became significantly easier during the early floors.
Outside of enemy drops there are animals and mushrooms scattered throughout the world that can be consumed for health, boosts, and even turned into weapons. In addition there are random chests that have loot, blueprints, and coins, the latter two being very important later on.
… a fair amount of ways to spend both in-game and real world currency …
A key thing to remember is that players are limited to one life. A death means potentially losing all your loot which could be devastating if you are on a high floor. It is recommended that players bank their loot as often as they can by going back to their base.
If you have coins you can use one of the two elevators that can be found on the floor. If you are broke you’ll have to run all the way back down. Once in your base you can level up, spend your coins, and start the R&D process for your blueprints.
The Free-to-play Hooks:
This is a free-to-play game with microtransactions. Let It Die has a fair amount of ways to spend both in-game and real world currency. The first is with the elevator system.
There are two elevators: one will cost you some in-game currency while the other requires a service that uses real money. Let’s start with the peasant elevator, a rickety looking elevator where each floor costs a different amount to travel to.
… insure your life and respawn wherever you just died …
For example, when going down to the home base, the higher up you are at the time the more it will cost going down. The same logic applies to going up as the elevators can be used to go to whichever floor you have previously reached.
The second elevator is a fancy one and this is part of something called the DH Services. This appears to be a membership that gives players perks like riding this nice elevator “free” of charge. Additional perks include speeding up the R&D times for building blueprints.
In the build I played the average weapon or armor takes anywhere from one to five minutes to be built and they cost a couple hundred coins of in-game currency once created.
What feels both like a brilliant and evil idea is the concept of life insurance in the game. Remember when I said that when you die you lose your stuff? Well, what if I told you that you can insure your life and respawn wherever you just died to continue on? Because that is totally an option.
… it’s hard to tell how this will shake out …
Upon every death you are offered life insurance from a young woman that allows you to have a second chance. You get respawned with full health and you can go on with your mission from the spot where you just died, meaning you lose nothing. This particular service costs Death Medal which is both a rare pick-up and something you can purchase via a microtransaction.
I was not given the price for the DH Services membership and the Death Medal so I can’t form an opinion as to whether this will be treated fairly or not. It has the potential make players feel dirty and alienated if the price is too high or if the game’s later difficulties make it impossible not to resist spending money.
I played for roughly three hours and only made it to the sixth floor and I did not feel compelled to spend the points provided. But that is fairly early in the game and it could change significantly later on for all I know. Right now it’s hard to tell how this will shake out.
When talking to the game director, Hideyuki Shin, I asked if the game was always free-to-play and he said that it was from the start. From what I played it seems like that’s the case with the microtransactions feeling baked in as opposed to tacked on.
When I asked if he felt that that game was balanced enough that players would not need to use microtransactions he said that there is enough skill involved that if players are patient and learn the mechanics they will not need to spend money and that there are enough drops to help them along the way.
… the ability to kidnap and take one the fallen fighters …
Player Vs. Player:
Let It Die features asynchronous multiplayer and it is integrated in some interesting ways. Your base is your home and you need to protect it because even when you aren’t playing it’s vulnerable.
The game’s PVP involves going out to other player’s bases through matchmaking and attacking specific areas of the base that result in coins and loot being dropped. Protecting your base are your eight fighters, each of which have their own levels and abilities which are leveled up by running them through the tower.
I went on a couple missions where I attacked other player’s bases which allowed me to see how others had built their fighters and the weapons they’d acquired. I could even pick up their weapons if they were dropped, but doing so does not unlock the blueprint. This meant that once the weapon broke I had no way of recreating it.
In a cool feature I had the ability to kidnap and take one the fallen fighters to be my own. And the only way for the player to win back their kidnapped fighter is to attack my base or hope that someone else attacks my base and releases all my captured fighters.
… a solid foundation for a fun and challenging experience …
The DH Service membership also ties into this aspect because traveling from base to base is done by train. As with the elevators there are basic and premium trains available.
The basic train does not stay open so if you run into trouble while in a base retreating is not always an option. The premium train on the other hand is always ready in case you find yourself in over your head and need to run away at a moment’s notice.
I enjoyed my brief time with Let It Die. The core mechanics have a solid foundation for a fun and challenging experience. The game features a tongue in cheek sense of humor that meshes well with its dark and gore filled world. The PVP aspect has potential to be a fun distraction from climbing the tower though it has room for trolling depending on how often your base can be attacked.
The only thing that I was unable to form a full opinion on was the microtransaction part of the game. I saw how it’s implemented, but I was not given prices nor was I deep enough in to see if they become vital later on.
After three hours with the game I am cautiously optimistic about Let It Die. It has a lot going for it and it will all depend on how the microtransactions come across in the long run.