The Descent Addiction
It’s 1996. I’m 12, and I’ve just been introduced to Descent II from a friend. We’ve been playing modem 1v1 games, lugging our desktops around for ‘Lan’ games with a serial cable, and recently discovered Kahn and Kali. For the next 8 years, Descent 1, 2, and 3 consume the vast majority of the time I spend on games. Heck, I learned so much about networking by setting up LAN events with friends that I get my first job as a network tech at 16. I’m downloading addon missions, I’m creating my own mines, and I can draw a map of Minerva 3 in my sleep. In 1999 I start writing for Descent3.net, and in 2003 I’m running the top ranked team on the Descent 3 Teams League with my friends ‘Roncli’, ‘Xeon’, and ‘Shadow’. When I moved to Australia in 2012, my friends and I all got together for a Descent 3 LAN party. Needless to say, I’m hooked for life.
From what I’ve seen, Overload has the look, feel, and immersion of Descent 1 & 2, but with modern graphics. Videos of the gameplay evoke that ‘in the mines’ feel that we’ve loved for 20 years, and I can’t wait to see more!
It took less than 52 seconds to sell me on Overload. By the end of the video above, I knew this was the real deal – a 6DoF game that feels right – and I haven’t even felt it yet. The way the ‘bots look, the way the weapons look, the way the mines look, the motion of the ship…in the video at least, they’ve captured the feel of Descent perfectly. And it makes sense – these are the guys that created Descent – heck, the entire genre. Hardcore Descent veterans will recognize many (if not all) of the guys on the right!
From the kickstarter page:
The creators of Descent are proud to present the ultimate 6-degree-of-freedom shooter, OVERLOAD. Revival Productions is continuing where Parallax left off and creating an all-new single-player game that combines the best of classic 6-DOF gameplay with modern graphics and technology. Destroy robots, rescue hostages, blow up the reactor, and escape before the whole thing explodes.
Reactor? Escape? For those of you that didn’t play the Descent series, the game’s storyline, in a nutshell, had you working as a Material Defender – essentially a ‘space mercenary’ who’s job it was to protect the intergalactic mining operations of corporate entity PTMC. Several of the mines became infected with a virus of unknown origins, and your job as the player was to slag the mines to prevent further spread. You did this by killing all of the robots that stood in your way, destroying the mine’s reactor, and escaping before you got fried. Oh, and you rescued anyone you could along the way. It looks like we’ll be doing that again in Overload, which suits me just fine.
One of the really neat things about the Descent series was the robot’s A.I.: they dodged, lurked, tracked, and even set up ambushes for the player. It’s some of the better AI I’ve seen in a game even to this day, and Descent I came out in 1994! I’m definitely excited to see what the team pulls off with modern hardware and software, not just in terms of graphics and gameplay, but also robot A.I.
To dispel any confusion: Overload is a new game being made by Revival Productions which is comprised of the creators of Descent 1, 2, and/or 3. Descent: Underground is being made by Descendent Studios which is comprised of former Wing Commander / Star Citizen guys. I’m stoked about both games!
The Overload Team
Overload Eye Candy
- Intense single-player action in 6-degrees-of-freedom
- 15 level campaign filled with explosive combat and exploration
- Story by the writer of Freespace 2
- Breath-taking graphics and spectacular sound, with a soundtrack by Dan Wentz & Allister Brimble
- More than a dozen sinister robot types and 3 massive bosses
- Unique AI
- 12 upgradeable weapons
- 5 difficulty levels let you tune the game to match your abilities
- Fully customizable joystick, gamepad, mouse and keyboard controls
- Releasing on PC/Mac/Linux, PS4, and Xbox One
Although the Descent story was simplistic on the surface, it got deeper and deeper as the game progressed and as the player moved on to the sequels. Told via a combination of intro videos and end-of-mission text briefings, I find it to be one of the best space game stories out there after Homeworld. There were even three books written by Peter Telep, which I highly recommend.
It appears that Overload will also feature a rich backstory. Although Revival has said that gameplay comes first, they have the story writer from Freespace 2 penning the background for Overload, so I definitely have high hopes. And not just because I also loved Freespace 2: the whole Revival team has a history of making games that people play for decades, so I’m sure they’ll deliver.
Back Overload on Kickstarter!
Overload has recently launched on Kickstarter, and I threw in for the spiffy boxed version! If you have the spare change and think that Overload will be fun, I encourage you to click here to back Overload.
Can you explain 6DoF?
Overload is an upcoming 6DoF game, which stands for six degrees of freedom. In the 6DoF genre you pilot a ship that can move forward and backwards, pitch (look up and down) yaw (look side to side) strafe horizontally (slide left and right), strafe vertically (slide up and down) and roll side to side – plus, there’s usually an afterburner involved as well. That’s a lot of controls. To make things even more interesting, in Descent 1, 2, and 3 you could combine the thrust generated from the strafing vectors and your forward power (while angling your ship’s nose to counteract the directional movement) to move significantly faster, a technique known as ‘triple chording’. 6DoF games have an incredibly steep learning curve which I feel somewhat hinders their popularity. However, they’re incredibly fun once mastered, which is why us veterans never quit once we’ve braved said curve. Overload’s team has mentioned that they’re going to support multiple controls, so hopefully modern tech can help alleviate the barrier to entry somewhat.
Single Player Only?!
I know, I was pretty bummed when I heard that too. Multiplayer Descent 3 is some of the most fun I’ve ever had gaming, and I was definitely a bit disappointed to hear that Overload is currently single-player only. I’m positive it’ll have a great story, but what about blowing up your friends in the mines?!
In a way, it makes sense: remember that learning curve I mentioned? It’s capital ‘M’ Massive. It takes a lot of dedication (and dying) to get to the point where you can occasionally get a kill in a multiplayer game. The multipayer aspect of 6DoF games cannot just be ‘picked up and played’. The Descent series was much more popular with the single-player and LAN-gaming crowd than it ever was online, and given that Revival is a small studio working on Kickstarter funds, it makes sense for them to do the best job they can on a single player game, and consider multiplayer further down the road. They’ve said they’re open to the possibility of including multiplayer at some point, so let’s make sure their Kickstarter gets funded and that we all support the game as much as possible!
Update 2-16-2016: Overload will now feature MULTIPLAYER! From Kickstarter:
“MULTIPLAYER EXPANSION; FREE TO ALL BACKERS!
Due to overwhelming demand, we are now committing (if the Kickstarter makes it) to making a MULTIPLAYER EXPANSION for Overload. We always wanted to have multiplayer and believed we would eventually, but we did not feel comfortable making a public commitment to it. It’s too easy for something like multiplayer to blow up the schedule and adversely affect the single player game. We want to hit our single player date with a great game.
So, here’s our plan: We will deliver the single player game in March, 2017. If the Kickstarter campaign is successful, we will deliver multiplayer as an expansion sometime after that (likely 6-8 months). Everyone who backs the campaign at the DIGITAL EDITION reward level and above will receive a free copy of the multiplayer expansion. We are not sure on the scope, but it will include the competitive modes and key features that kept Descent going for over 20 years.”
I’m so stoked. C’mon, 2017!
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