There's something oh-so tantalising about a story which sees adventurers travel to distant lands on the hunt for treasure, finding curiosities and battling with bad guys as they go, and that's exactly what Rebellion is trying to capture with its co-op game Strange Brigade. To show us what the game was all about, we sat down with a developer at E3 to play through a portion of the adventure, and get the low-down on what we were doing.
The mission we played had a loose objective, but don't expect the story to be complex and mind-blowing; this is a game about the simple joys of searching for treasure and exploring uncharted territories. The section we played was the start of one of the missions, starting with a cutscene showing dialogue between the four characters before dropping us into some ruins hidden in the jungle.
The action is accompanied by a narrator with a frightfully tongue-in-cheek British accent, and this fits into the overall style that Strange Brigade is aiming for, that of the rip-roaring 1930s films, all jolly-well exaggerated and complete with all the cliffhangers you'd expect. The whole package is comic and a breath of fresh air in an industry packed full of gritty shooters, and you'll be seeing a bunch of classic villains like mummies as you battle Seteki the Witch Queen.
So if you've played shooters like Left 4 Dead you'll know the gist of the gameplay loop; shoot enemies, loot the world, and repeat. It's an effective formula, and Rebellion was keen to point out that you're also working against your allies to get loot, and they did this by shooting us with a giant laser to show that friendly fire was on. Well, we got their point that's for sure, and there's an entertaining balance that means at one point you could be all fighting for your lives against a horde of monsters and the next you're clambering over each other to grab some treasure.
While there are different weapons to choose from - including everything from a blunderbuss to pistols, grenades, and rifles - the most effective way to wreak havoc is to get the special weapons scattered about the levels, including a shotgun that chains lightning in between enemies. Even more effective are the ultimate abilities for each character, special powers that can really devastate opponents, as well as the traps in the world you can activate to demolish adversaries... or your teammates.
It's not all about blood and guts and death though, because believe it or not Strange Brigade also has the odd puzzle to keep adventurers on their toes. To give an example, one doorway requires players to shoot blocks on a grid to rotate them, the goal being the align a series of pipe segments on each square. It doesn't look like these puzzles are going to be too taxing, but they fit very snugly into the theme of exploring hidden civilisations.
The general presentation of the game suits this theme perfectly too, as you'll find yourself wandering from one overgrown ruin to another. On top of that, the enemies are similarly stylised. It all feels like something along the lines of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and there are plenty of varied monsters to be taking down in these exotic locations. There are even black and white slides to break up the action, and so it really does feel like you're playing through an old film.
As far as co-op games go, Strange Brigade is shaping up very nicely, bringing together the need to work together for survival as well as the need to rush ahead to try and get one up on your allies. It's over-the-top, it's silly, but more importantly, it's also a lot of fun, and we're curious to see what mysteries await when we get into the meat of the experience on PC, PS4, and Xbox One on August 28.