Brink Hands-on

Brink Hands-on

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Brink is an online multiplayer game that rewards skill and teamwork instead of time played.

Competitive online shooters aren't my bag, I'll admit that straight away. I enjoyed the Granddaddy of console multiplayer shooters, Goldeneye on the Nintendo 64, and I was good enough to kill the dudes on my dorm floor most of the time. Something from that experience has been lost in the console shooters of this generation, and the team at Splash Damage have noticed it too. With Brink, the first game from the British developer not based on another's IP, the team removed what they call "non-skill kills" and will give significantly more XP for helping your teammates than killing opponents. That sounds like lip service, but based on playing it for twenty minutes at the Bethesda booth at PAX East 2011, it might actually make an online shooter that I'd enjoy.

The character customization is deep in Brink, that's the first thing you notice when you start playing. There are three body types, heavy, normal and light, which alter your health total, but also how you move around the map. The light type has less health, but can move faster, leap farther and climb over obstacles quicker, while the heavy type is the opposite - less mobility with higher health pool - but can also wield heavier weapons. Movement is important in Brink because of the "smart movement" system; by holding a button you can climb up or down ramps or over fences and jump into the fray. You start the game with only the normal body type unlocked and can purchase the others with XP.

How do you earn XP? Well, by doing what's appropriate for your class. I played the soldier class - there's also a medic, engineer and operative - and whenever I shot a guy I saw a fancy "+3 XP" number pop up. The soldier's special ability is to provide ammunition to teammates who may be running low and when I tossed them more clips, I got more than 3,000 XP. That's quite a difference.

"It's possible to play through the whole game, and unlock everything, without ever firing a shot," the lead writer Edward Stern said over my shoulder as I was playing. With that ratio of XP, I believe it. The Medic and Engineer are similarly rewarded for provide health and fixing turrets, etc.

There were objectives on the map, such as one side bringing a briefcase of documents to a certain point while the other tries to stop them, and I was rewarded not only for moving the briefcase but for being near the guy who did, so there was no more feeling of failure when you helped a fellow teammate accomplish an objective. The leaders will not track kills or objectives, only XP, so there's no reason to be disappointed if your teammate beats you to an objective.

The smart movement system was tons of fun. After Stern pointed out that a pile of crates and boxes conspicuously led up to a platform, I held the bumper and was able to scramble up them before perfectly timing a jump to grab the ledge and pull myself up. Based on what I played, it was a simple system to grasp that led to some interesting tactical choices. Do I climb up here to flank those three guys, or move forward with the medic at my back?

I didn't get into purchasing anything with the time that I had available, but Stern tells me that you can't just grind to get the best weapons or nuclear strikes. "We're trying to get rid of that problem of when you buy the game a month after everyone else or you just don't have enough time to grind, these other guys have unlocked these magical weapons that you have no defense against," he said. "We're trying to get rid of no-skill kills. No air strikes. No grenade spam, all the grenades are on a cooldown. Also, grenades are assist weapons, not kill weapons. They knock you down and make you vulnerable but they don't do that much damage."

Perhaps the coolest and most interesting thing about Brink is that it will seamlessly blend multiplayer across several modes. You can play the whole game solo, but your enemies might be a group of human friends playing cooperatively or a bunch of AI bots. You might be playing and see a friend pop online, and you can immediately ask him to join the match without restarting. You might be paying with that friend just to get XP, but the enemy might include a solo player in story mode.

I only got to play Brink a little, but I realized that I spent way more time giving ammo to my teammates as the soldier than I did shooting dudes. And that led me to appear near the top of the leaderboard when that match ended. I have to say that made me feel like I had accomplished something, and a shooter hasn't made me feel like that in a long while.

Brink comes out May 17th on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3. For more on how the story mode works, check out my interview with Edward Stern, lead writer of Brink.

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Glad to finally hear more information about this game. I've been anticipating this one since its announcement way back when.

Hopefully the extreme difference in experience point gain won't cause people to just stay back and spam their class abilities for easy Exp grinding. I really want this game to do well.

Dammit.. now I really need to see a way to lower my ping.

I had a mild interest in the game from the first screenshots due to a visual similarity to Shadowrun, then ended up forgetting about it for a while whilst there was no news and now I'm feeling slghtly optimistic for it.

It all sounds good, but the only thing I wonder is that kills sound like they're near worthless. I wouldn't want to be in a shooter where people arn't shooting each other but firing their weapons at walls and throwing each other ammo crates to rank up.

Calcium:

It all sounds good, but the only thing I wonder is that kills sound like they're near worthless. I wouldn't want to be in a shooter where people arn't shooting each other but firing their weapons at walls and throwing each other ammo crates to rank up.

This is my worry as well. It sounds like this could end up having a lot of boosters just sitting at spawn and not playing the game and then being rewarded for it. This means that playing the objective better have some MASSIVE exp so that there's a reason for playing the objective.

Unlike LA Noire, the more I hear about Brink, the more I crave playing it. I can't wait until it's release, finally an FPS that won't bore the living shit out of me, I hope this game becomes influential.

i've been hyping this game for about a year now and it's good to see it's actually getting some recognition now.

So let me get this right. From what I have heard, It's the free running of Mirrors Edge, combined with the customisability of Borderlands, with the team based combat of Battlefield. So, uh, do I just hand over card details now or will they be wanting cash?

Cpt Corallis:
So let me get this right. From what I have heard, It's the free running of Mirrors Edge, combined with the customisability of Borderlands, with the team based combat of Battlefield. So, uh, do I just hand over card details now or will they be wanting cash?

Pre-order and you can get some nifty customizations for your character. I'm probably going through D2D myself. Just waiting to see if they're going to be putting out a collectors edition first.

i wouldn't worry about the exp for helping teammates thing guys. i mean the developers seem smart if there is too much posting they can probably just patch it.

Glad to hear something about this. Now I'm really looking forward to this game :D

I hate to get my hopes up, especially for multiplayer, but this seems to be the blend of Co-op and competitive that I will just love.

Granted, if I play with matchmade teams, any form of cooperation is dead and gone.

Still, I have to say that this game is looking great.

I know it's hard to believe, but I'm still on the fence about this one. Definitley getting Duke Nukem: Forever and Red Faction: Armageddon. Still don't know about Brink though.

Dirty Hipsters:

This is my worry as well. It sounds like this could end up having a lot of boosters just sitting at spawn and not playing the game and then being rewarded for it. This means that playing the objective better have some MASSIVE exp so that there's a reason for playing the objective.

I'm sure they've thought about that, I'd imagine winning a game rewards you with a considerable xp boost. It would be a pretty huge oversight for them to make the actual match objectives play second fiddle to spamming ammo at a wall and refilling it.

brink looks so good ive already pre-ordered it from amazon. if you want to know more about ot a good site to go to is g4tv . com it has tons of gaming stuff

Greg Tito:
Brink is an online multiplayer game that rewards skill and teamwork instead of time played.

Maybe I'm just dense, but I don't see how a game that let's you buy upgrades with experience points is not rewarding time played.

The game still sounds interesting though.

Seems really cool. This is gonna be a good year: Brink, L.A. Noir (i refuse to put the fucking e in it), Arkham City, Gears of War 3. damn it!

fromn where i stand after i first saw brink a couple months back i've thought that this game is eighter good or it's bad, which you might say is what you think about any game, but it's not; other games usually have a higher chance of beeing avrage. Brink seems to be trying something different, if the parkour works out well and the game modes are fun brink will be fantastic. Also it might rely on a bit of bug fixes after release. Not instantly buying this game, gonna wait til i see gameplay vids and then i will probably get it. hoping for the best. ^^

This sounds like it could actually work. It really bugs me the lack of communication online on the ps3 so this could be the game to change that.

Kwil:
Dammit.. now I really need to see a way to lower my ping.

change provider?
stop watching bad porn (you know you are)
if your on wireless that might be an issue

Anyway good write up. Im looking forward to this again.

The more I hear about Brink, the longer is the wait for the game to finally come out.

Preordering a game almost a year before it's released is a bad idea. But it'll be worth the wait. I hope.

I'm still apprehensive about any multiplayer game that lets the players who are already better at the game earn straight buffs. Is there something in place to keep matches from being insanely imbalanced?

Brink is shaping up to be one hell of a game

I've been pumped for this game for ages. It sounds better and better every time I hear something about it.

It sounds great, the only thing is the huge XP difference. Three XP for a kill, three thousand for a goddamn ammo restock? That is just wayyyy too big a difference; it's a one-thousand-to-one ratio. I don't think even a massive XP boost for completing an objective could stop people from boosting.

I think the highest I could go is a twenty-to-one ratio for helping teammates vs. kills (i.e. if a kill is three XP then a special ability is 60). After that it just gets ridiculous. It's pointless to kill enemies when it takes a thousand kills to get the same amount of XP as one assist ability.

Meh, I like shooting people (in video games). Not helping teammates.

Akalabeth:
Meh, I like shooting people (in video games). Not helping teammates.

...and you still have hake, trout, tuna, I mean, cod. This is for the rest of us. The ones who like Battlefield, TF2, Monday Night Combat and other team play games. I still think the men-only thing is a bit of a disapointment, but this does look like a MP game I could get behind, until they introduce hats anyway.

Greg Tito:
I shot a guy I saw a fancy "+3 XP" number pop up. The soldier's special ability is to provide ammunition to teammates who may be running low and when I tossed them more clips, I got more than 3,000 XP. That's quite a difference.

I played a couple rounds of the demo at PAX as well and just wanted to post to clarify this bit of the review here, everything else is spot on. The XP disparity isn't that excessive. Here are some of the values...

- kills seem to be 40xp or so but they are broken down on a % damage basis so if you do half the damage you get half the xp, no kill points/assist points.
- healing (medic), buffing damage (engineer), hacking comms* (operative), and giving out ammo (soldier) give +75xp each and all use up chunks of energy that comes from a power bar on the bottom left of the UI. It regenerates at a reasonable rate but you just can't spam these "powers". The length of the power bar may be player size related too, like the health, but I am not sure.
- the 3,000 xp number probably came from the right of the screen where it keeps a running tally of your XP for the whole match

*if you down an enemy as an Operative you can run up and scan them which will hack their communications and show everyone on the other team on all of your minimap and the maps of all your allies for a short time.

Any way you look at it the name of this game will be teamwork as whether you just really want your team to win or you are just trying to farm XP the smart move is to work together.

scifidownbeat:
It sounds great, the only thing is the huge XP difference. Three XP for a kill, three thousand for a goddamn ammo restock? That is just wayyyy too big a difference; it's a one-thousand-to-one ratio. I don't think even a massive XP boost for completing an objective could stop people from boosting.

I think the highest I could go is a twenty-to-one ratio for helping teammates vs. kills (i.e. if a kill is three XP then a special ability is 60). After that it just gets ridiculous. It's pointless to kill enemies when it takes a thousand kills to get the same amount of XP as one assist ability.

the 3 xp was for shotting him not for killing him I saw gameplay video were someone was shooting a guy with a smg and 3xp came up after every hit of the gun and seeing as people in this game have large amounts of hp you could get a lot of points for killing a guy.

Maawdawg:

Thanks for clearing that up! Maybe the Escapist could update the review to lower the confusion. Pretty please Escapist *puppy eyes*?

The more I see of this game, the more I want it. An actual team-based multi-player shooter? No air-strikes or grenade-spam? DO WANT!

nuba km:

scifidownbeat:
It sounds great, the only thing is the huge XP difference. Three XP for a kill, three thousand for a goddamn ammo restock? That is just wayyyy too big a difference; it's a one-thousand-to-one ratio. I don't think even a massive XP boost for completing an objective could stop people from boosting.

I think the highest I could go is a twenty-to-one ratio for helping teammates vs. kills (i.e. if a kill is three XP then a special ability is 60). After that it just gets ridiculous. It's pointless to kill enemies when it takes a thousand kills to get the same amount of XP as one assist ability.

the 3 xp was for shotting him not for killing him I saw gameplay video were someone was shooting a guy with a smg and 3xp came up after every hit of the gun and seeing as people in this game have large amounts of hp you could get a lot of points for killing a guy.

Oooooh. Well that makes more sense.

Now all my fears are assuaged!

What's normal movement in the game like?

Whenever I see it being played, the running speed seems so slow and clunky, and complete at odds with the SMART system.

 

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