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    Nosgoth: Not quite so lifeless

    You’ve got unprecedented access to game development, these days. Closed alphas are often seen more as demos, Kickstarter has burdened backers with playtesting and the rise of Steam Early Access means that more than ever before you’ll be able to follow the development process as it happens. Where the Early Access is honest such as in the case of Nosgoth you’ll often be able to follow the game from its rougher mechanical alpha through to its more playable open beta phase. In truth, with Nosgoth, it’s something more of a soft launch, and since it’s free-to-play in essence, there’s no real concern hopping in for a round or two. The months of polish have done Nosgoth a great deal of good, too, rounding out each match to something more unique. Where it once combined the asymmetrical vampires versus humans combat well, there’s a greater sense of identity about it now; it’s been honed to allow both sides a particular style and even feeling. The humans with their ranged weapons will need to huddle together, find a secure area and wait for the assault, replete with fearful and frantic spot-checking a calm-before-the-storm sort of panic.

    The vampires, alternatively, are more fragile now, rewarding well-executed hit-and-run strategies rather than the blitzkrieg rampages required only a few months back. Not only does it give Nosgoth its own playstyle, but it means it’s proof that games in early access can flourish, as much thanks to their gradual, mechanical balancing as anything else.

    Improvements have been heaped onto the game elsewhere, too. Updated and tweaked graphics, more maps and even a new mode which, itself, is still in beta. There’s a training mode, too, which isn’t perhaps necessary for a game where all you’re essentially doing is pointing at an enemy and clicking, but it does help to introduce the technical differences between humans and vampires and the various abilities of each class. In fact there are actually four new classes now added into Nosgoth: Prophet and Vanguard on the human side, Defiler and Summoner on the vampire faction. They’re each hidden behind unlock systems so you’ll need to earn the right to play them, but they still offer something new to each faction. Prophets are more support roles, debuffing enemies and healing allies, while Vanguards are a solely tanky, melee class helpful, perhaps, but a disadvantage for the typically ranged humans. Defilers are more of a stealth class, intending to sneak on the opposition with disguises or camouflage while summoners as you might expect can draw demons into the world to help attack. Each class does offer something new and are unique enough to act as a reward for those putting in the time to rank up.
    “ There is no real end to what you can learn in a beta program, whether from a technical point of view or even anecdotal reactions ”
    It’s at this point that it’s worth mentioning how robust Nosgoth now is; if you’re interested, there wouldn't be much sense holding out for its true ‘release’ all the requisite parts are already here. The underlying system of menus, stores and options are seemingly as complete as they ever will be including an incrementally better daily bonus for logging in each day. It’s progressed very nicely indeed, and a fine example of how Early Access can result in a better game for everyone. There are still questions around the options to purchase different abilities, but it’s testament to the evolved balancing of the game that no faction, class or ability is afforded preference. You’ll no doubt find a personal taste in the particulars, but you won’t have any greater advantage as a result. At this moment Nosgoth is about as complete as it can be from mechanical, technical and feature-ready standpoints yet with the steady slew of announced and unannounced additions to the game it’s clear there’s going to be a reason to return to this one for months to come. When it’ll be officially deemed ‘ready for release’ we don’t yet know, but at this point such an arbitrary definition is becoming increasingly futile.

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