Bethesda has published details concerning Brink's first batch of downloadable content. We knew the first DLC would be free, so some people expected a few crappy costumes. Prepare to be surprised!
The Agents of Change pack fea... read
Another patch for the PC version of Brink has arrived, fixing up issues with sound as well as a few cosmetic issues and general performance flaws.
By all accounts, the PC version is looking like the best of the lot, wit... read
Splash Damage has celebrated the return of the PlayStation Network by releasing a lovely patch for your copy of Brink. I'm sure all thirty PS3 Brink players will be thrilled with the news.
The fix is, essentially, the s... read
In a move that could very likely be a glimpse of things to come for this industry, Splash Damage and Bethesda are going to put out the first Brink downloadable content for free. This is their way of showing "appreciation for ... read
Splash Damage has detailed the various updates that Brink has received since it launched on Tuesday, discussing the patches released for all three versions of the game.
On the Xbox 360, the launch patch has improved tex... read
May 09 //
Brink (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Publisher: BethesdaDeveloper: Splash DamageReleased: May 10, 2011Price: $59.99
In many ways, Brink is an amalgamation of concepts from a variety of first-person shooters, but not the ones that usually get copied. There's first-person parkour lifted from Mirror's Edge; class-dependent, teamwork-heavy combat from Team Fortress; and campaign-based multiplayer from Left 4 Dead. Brink is a very familiar game, but in a way that feels uniquely refreshing.
Set aboard the Ark, Splash Damage's colorful FPS presents a civil war between the Security and the Resistance, two forces with very different ideas on how to survive in a future Earth that's been largely flooded. Cutscenes before and after each mission vaguely piece together the story of this struggle, although the only real way to get into the narrative is to listen to the huge amount of audio logs that unlock as you progress.
You may be fooled into thinking otherwise, but Brink has no true single-player feature. Its "Campaign" mode is a series of multiplayer matches that can simply be played offline against an incongruously oppressive AI. Even worse, the ally AI has apparently been scaled back, and never seem able to win against the enemy. In fact, Splash Damage's campaign is so flimsy that you can even set it to "Versus," which will allow other players to join and effectively turn it into an exact replica of the online mode. The campaign shouldn't even exist, it's so close to being an illusion.
Make no mistake, this is an online shooter through-and-through, and should be treated solely as such. Fortunately, it's one of the most rewarding online shooters you could ever hope to play, albeit one full of questionable -- sometimes outright bad -- design decisions.
Brink is all about customization. With hundreds of costume pieces to unlock and thousands of ways to combine them, players can create a stunning amount of diverse warriors. The character creator is simple, but boasts just enough choice to ensure that identical characters are statistically difficult to encounter. You'll be able to pick facial types, masks, hats, jackets, shirts, pants and color schemes, as well as three different body types -- light, normal and heavy -- that have slightly different play styles.
The combat is objective-based, and objectives rely on classes. There are four classes to select -- the destructive Soldier, the stealthy Operative, the productive Engineer and the healing Medic. Every class has its own set of abilities that can be unlocked using points earned with Rank increases. For example, the Engineer can earn increasingly powerful weapon turrets, while the Medic has access to different types of buffs -- such as increased speed and invincibility -- that can be bestowed upon teammates.
Classes can be switched at any time from Command Posts in-game, and sometimes this will be crucial to create an effective team. Objectives always need various classes to complete them, such as computers that must be hacked by Operatives or obstacles that require a Soldier to detonate them. Brink certainly has some great game types with a welcome focus on balanced teamwork. However, the game manages to stomp on this achievement by presenting the great gameplay in a way that could only be described as abnormal.
As stated earlier, the online matches of Brink are indistinguishable from the campaign, in a manner lifted directly from Left 4 Dead. What this means is that while one team has a distinct set of objectives in any given match, the opposing team's goal is usually very simple -- stop the enemy. While this is not a problem inherently, the game's incredibly questionable map design and outright broken objectives completely screw it up.
For example, there's one map where the Security have to escort a robot to a particular area. The robot, however, always passes through a choke point on the map with a convenient machine gun nest situated close to the Resistance's spawn area. What invariably happens is that the majority of the match ends up stuck at this choke point. There are several maps with similar situations, some of which even reward the opposing team as one side gains the upper hand, bringing an objective closer to a spawn area in order to make the mission almost impossible.
Every now and then, there are ways that the oppressed team can fight back, such as using Soldiers to open up shortcuts. Even with these minor advantages, however, there are still some maps that just don't work properly.
While some of the levels have a more even chance of success for either side, I have a feeling there are certain stages that players are going to eventually refuse to play, rage-quitting should they find themselves on the wrong side. Had Brink employed something similar to Killzone 3 -- where objectives constantly shift and are evenly split between teams -- it might have worked. Instead, the game has a totally bizarre flow where even if a team is dominating an enemy and wins two objectives, they can still lose a hard-fought match because they failed the third imbalanced requirement.
This issue is partly mitigated by a "Stopwatch" mode, where teams take turns playing each side and compete to see who wins the fastest, but given the near-impossibility of some of these maps, the mode doesn't offer much except both sides getting embittered, as opposed to just the one.
The true tragedy of this is that Brink is, by and large, utterly brilliant fun. The combat is tight, with impressive balance applied to the game's many weapons and cool first-person parkour elements, which allow players to run frantically around some beautiful environments. The game's objective system, with multiple missions that players can select at will, makes for a game that offers more choice than the average FPS. More importantly, Brink features incredibly fulfilling class-based gameplay that is a pleasure to sink one's teeth into, with every class feeling important, effective, and perfectly tuned to fulfill its role on the battlefield.
You earn XP for buffing allies, spotting enemy disguises, and capturing Command Posts. The game even recognizes kills that were earned by a group, rather than awarding all the points to the lucky guy who fired last. You'll earn XP just for shooting at a guy, and the points multiply if you keep the offense going. Brink showers you with experience points from the outset, and ensures that every type of player has a chance to feel like they're useful. If you're not a fan of direct combat, you can heal your friends or capture territory. If you want to charge into the fray, you can arm yourself with Molotovs and chainguns. Alternately, you could just keep switching classes to efficiently finish the mission.
Splash Damage proudly embraces all styles of play with equal gusto, and I have to commend their efforts in this endeavor wholeheartedly.
It's a shame (yes, another shame) that this rewarding experience feels all too brief. After only having the game in my possession for four days, I'd already maxed out my character and had nothing further to accomplish with it. Characters max out at rank 20, with no extra bragging ranks or unlocks beyond that. Any XP earned past this point is lost; suddenly, you find that Brink's rewarding embrace has abandoned you and the experience feels slightly hollow. Even the Achievement/Trophy for unlocking rank 20 says, "Time to make a new character," acknowledging that there's nothing further to achieve.
The same is true of the weapons and their attachments, all of which can be unlocked within half an hour after you've played a set of "Challenges" -- little more than glorified tutorials that aren't very fun due to the ludicrously aggressive AI and lack of equalizing support, even in co-op mode. Once the Challenges are beaten and rank 20 is unlocked, there's little else to do unless you fancy re-speccing your character at the cost of ranks or starting again from scratch.
As much as I'm complaining, I want to stress just how much I have adored my time with Brink. Even among my favorite online games, I've not played one so intent on encouraging players to work together, have fun, and feel like they're contributing. My frustration with this game lies within this very brilliance and how it's juxtaposed with bizarre ideas such as grossly imbalanced multiplayer and the imparting of almost all content within the first few hours of play. I love this game, I truly do, but I have a list of agitated questions for the developers as long as my arm.
To return to the positive, it's the little touches that really make this game stand out. The art style's terrific, with a wide variety of clothing and masks that can't help but look cool and a bright, distinct color palette that most modern shooters refuse to use. Even the characters, with their giant noses and sharp chins (they all look like Nosferatu), at least look unlike anything else in a modern videogame, with TimeSplitters providing the closest comparison.
The parkour animations, especially the ability to kick enemies over with a well-aimed slide, are satisfying to pull off, even if the controls get a little confused about what you want them to do sometimes, and the range of abilities is staggering. A lot of work has gone into making Brink a cohesive and immersive experience. It's just all got this permeating strain of straight-up bad design running through it.
It's also worth noting that, at the time of writing, there are some issues with online lag. Most of the time it's barely noticeable, but there have been instances where matches were unplayable and I had to come back later. A launch patch is arriving for consoles that should address this, while the PC version boasts dedicated servers.
Brink is a confusing beast. Inspired and engrossing, exasperating and chaotic. Putting my thoughts into words has been difficult, as a series of garbled, guttural noises are what I want to make whenever I try to describe this game. I want to excitedly shout about how happy it makes me, but I can't do so without adding important, overbearing caveats. This is the type of game for which the phrase, "There's always a but," was made. There is always a "but" with Brink, some sort of unusual downside to every bright spot.
Yet this is the online game I may play more than any other this year. It's a love/hate game of the highest degree, and I personally love it too much to hate it, despite understanding and accepting that anyone who does hate it will have every right and reason to do so.
Splash Damage has had a decent career working on various id Software properties over the years, but this is the first time that the lads from Bromley (respect) have struck out with an original IP of their own.
Brink has... read feature
Brink hits North America tomorrow, and Bethesda's put out a final trailer in anticipation. It bigs up the game's civil war premise, and features loads of shooting and jumping. That's all you need, really.
We've been pl... read
Bethesda has been ramping up the Brink promotion ahead of next week's release, helped along with some insane statistics that the publisher has yanked out of its arse. The numbers are being used to show off how much variety is... read
The final Brink video in its "Get SMART" series explains how command posts, turrets, mines, and disguises can be used for battlefield control.
Turrets in particular can be very effective when placed in strategic positions, a... read
I gathered from my conversation with Brink’s lead writer, Edward Stern, that the game’s developers at Splash Damage believe certain problems to be endemic to the shooter genre, and that they’re trying to pro... read
Splash Damage’s upcoming first-person shooter, Brink, does away with the traditional videogame dichotomy between solo and multiplayer modes. “We’re used to there being a real difference between single-player... read
Mar 01 //
Brink (PlayStation 3 [previewed], Xbox 360, PC) Developer: Splash Damage Publisher: Bethesda Softworks To be released: May 17, 2011 (NA) / May 20, 2011 (EU, AUS) Brink takes place on The Ark, a floating utopia constructed from genetically engineered white coral that humans built as a refuge from a flooded Earth for 5,000 inhabitants. But ten times as many people now call The Ark home, and amid dwindling resources and overcrowding, two factions have risen up to compete for control of the decaying city: “Security,” which is attempting to maintain order, and “Resistance,” which is fighting to escape. Each force has its own playable campaign, but lead writer Edward Stern promised that the story isn’t as cut and dry as “hero cops versus evil terrorists.” “Both sides think they’re right; that’s just way more involving and engaging than if it’s, like, ‘Well, I’m just evil; I’m born to do evil; that’s all I do. Woke up this morning, going to do some evil,’” he said with a grin. Mentioning the moral ambiguity of Deus Ex as an inspiration, Stern discussed the mission I played, “Dirty Bomb.” If you play it in the Security campaign, your commander tells you that you’re fighting to keep a bio-weapon out of the hands of the Resistance. But as a Resistance fighter, you’re told that the Security side is attempting to steal your medical supplies. “Who are you going to believe? We’re not going to definitively tell you one way or the other,” said Stern, asserting that the story underpinnings of the missions in Brink have a motivational significance aside from the nature of the MacGuffin.
Stern told me that one of his “wilder goals” for Brink is that its fiction will sit in players’ minds even when they’re not playing the game. Much of the story is relayed through the environment, which he called “the best narrator we’ve got.” The mission I tried was set in Container City, a slum on The Ark composed of steel girders, sheet metal, and shipping containers. The ragtag shanty town was clearly constructed haphazardly, and sat rusting into the ocean. “You don’t build out of steel, at sea, if you think [what you’re building is] going to last for a long time,” Stern pointed out, saying that the awful conditions in Container City effectively communicate to the player why the Resistance is so damn desperate to leave The Ark. Unlockable audio diaries provide more story details. Of course, some people just want to jump in and start shooting dudes in the face, so all of the story is optional. Brink is an overwhelming game at first; even aside from its frantic 8-on-8 pace, its interface is extremely busy -- it beams so much data at your eyeballs with text, icons, bars, and gauges that you’ll feel like you’re staring straight into The Matrix. But it’s a testament to Splash Damage’s elegant HUD design that I was able to pick up on everything pretty quickly, whether it was the small circles indicating remaining rounds in a clip and remaining time in a reloading animation, or my teammates’ health bars. Splash Damage has done a wonderful job of communicating tasks to players through the game’s objective wheel. At any time, you can hold up on the D-pad to bring up a round menu with the current objectives taking up “slices” of the pie depending on how pressing the tasks are (the wheel changes constantly). Even easier, you can just tap up, and the game will automatically direct you toward the most important objective with an on-screen indicator (and distance measurement). Thanks to this setup, I never found myself unclear on what to do next.
I stuck with the Medic class for most of my playtime, although I did spend some time as an Engineer. The Medic can buff other players’ health (as well as his own), and he also has the ability to revive incapacitated teammates. I really liked the revive mechanic in Brink. In games such as Battlefield: Bad Company 2, one of my favorite online shooters, stupid medics will often revive a player in the middle of a firefight, whereas the guy just wanted to respawn. As a Medic in Brink, you’ll toss a revive syringe to a downed comrade, and he can decide whether to revive himself or respawn. (Medics can eventually unlock an upgrade that allows them to revive themselves.) Soldiers carry high-explosive charges for demolition objectives, and they can supply their teammates with ammunition. Engineers can plant mines (and later, set up turrets), and they can also disarm mines as well as HE charges. In addition, they can boost other players’ weapon damage. By far the most intriguing and intimidating class is the Operative, who -- like the Spy in Team Fortress 2 -- can disguise himself as a fallen enemy and complete hacking objectives. That’s just the start of the customization that Brink offers. You can unlock abilities -- some class-specific, some universal -- that give you extra skills. They include extra mines, scavenging ammo off of dead bodies, an EMP grenade that slows down the timer on charges, and an Operative-only sticky bomb. You can only bring three abilities into battle with you. In addition, you can choose from three body types (light, normal, heavy). Light bodies have the least health, but with the “S.M.A.R.T.” parkour movement system, they can clamber up levels in ways that normal and heavy players simply don’t have access to. Finally, the game includes a wealth of cosmetic options, such as tattoos and headgear. If you find a combination that you like, you can save it in one of eight character slots.
The customization means that you can literally play Brink however you want. Stern suggested that I play as a Medic, and then gave me a challenge: play for five minutes without firing a single shot; just go around healing and reviving your teammates. The game doles out XP like it’s the end of the world -- and I guess on The Ark, it kinda is -- so you receive experience for pretty much everything you do, whether it’s healing your teammates, supplying comrades with ammo, or even just being near an objective. “I mean, it’s called a shooter; how much of your time do you actually spend shooting? We wanted to make it so that there’s lots you can do, even when you’re not pulling the trigger,” said Stern. In fact, Brink emphasizes XP over the standard statistics that are measured in shooters. The scoreboard at the end of a round lists XP, but doesn’t even mention kill/death ratio (Stern assured me that the game tracks that data, but explained that the focus here is on teamwork, not individual performance). “It’s cool to be James Bond,” acknowledged Stern, but “it’s also really cool to be the guy who revived James Bond with a second to go.” Many of the players in the matches I played were AI-controlled bots, but I was hard-pressed to tell the difference. My teammates acquitted themselves admirably in combat, completing objectives and controlling choke points. (This is vital, for reasons I will explore in a separate post.) I did see a few instances of bots getting caught on level geometry and running in pace, but Stern explained that I was playing a beta version, and that the team is still ironing out the kinks. Bots or not, I found that I was able to earn gobs of experience points -- and have a lot of fun -- just by supporting my team as a Medic, just as Stern had proposed; I died only a few times, since I was able to heal and revive myself. (You have “ammo” for your health buff; it recharges over time.)
If Medic doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, you can switch classes in the middle of a round at stations placed throughout maps. I dabbled as an Engineer for some time, still mostly supporting my team by building staircases and dealing out damage buffs, and enjoyed that role as well. Brink truly looks to have something for everyone; which class will you play?
Brink, the upcoming first-person shooter from Enemy Territory developer Splash Damage, is bringing a novel approach to a crowded market. It incorporates elements from a variety of popular genres, but does so in a way that mak... read feature
[Editors note: Despite how hard cameraman and tech-guy Roy Malcomber tried we had several technology fails and apologise for sound quality].
Brink has a huge presence at Eurogamer Expo in London this... read feature
[Editors note: Despite how hard cameraman and tech-guy Roy Malcomber tried we had several technology fails and apologise for sound quality].
Brink is awesome and I could spend all day trying to explain the game to you but that would be pointless. So, I am going to let the CEO of Splash Damage, Paul Wedgewood, do it instead. Enjoy! read
Brink, according to developer Splash Damage, is set to redefine what we think of when talking first-person shooters. In fact, in its latest developer diary called "The End of a Genre As We Know It," the developers thinks suc... read
Aug 18 //
Brink (PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation S3)Developer: Splash DamagePublisher: Bethesda SoftworksTo be released: Spring 2011
The hands-on, with around seven other press people, started with a training video that explained the core concepts and the HUD. After going through the training video, we were allowed to customize our character (which will be a persistent, leveling character in the full game) with looks, weapons, and abilities. You can customize abilities for multiple classes, as you may want to eventually change classes as you keep playing the game. To this end, you have a set amount of ability points. One ability takes one point. The abilities are spread among universal skills -- buffs and such that work for all classes, and class specific abilities. I put the most points into the Soldier class, picking abilities that increased my damage and my health so that I wouldn’t die all the time -- because I really hate waiting for respawn timers in multiplayer. Some other points were distributed among the Engineer class, the Medic, and the Infiltrator. Many of these abilities cost mana, which regenerates slowly as you play.
If you have played Team Fortress 2, you should be pretty familiar with what each classe can do. The Soldier is a mix between the Heavy and the TF2 Soldier. The Infiltrator has some Spy skills, such as copying an enemy’s look. The Engineer and the Medic are … an Engineer and a Medic. They have mixed up the classes enough so it doesn't feel like a direct copy of TF2, and, in fact, it probably makes Brink more accessible to gamers who like team-based multiplayer combat, since the familiar aspect of those games are present.
So, it’s not TF2. What Brink feels most like is Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, also from Splash Damage. Each class has specific objectives that focus your gameplay so you're not running around like an idiot. This gives players some more direction and a sense of progression, as they pursue and achieve goals, as well as the feeling that the session actually matters. Of course, the first thing I did was run around like an idiot. We were able to play Container City, the same level that was shown at E3, but this was a newer build. In a GDC session with Lead Level Designer Neil Alphonso, he mentioned how this level was designed by David Johnston -- you might know him as the guy who created a little map called DE_Dust.
Playing Brink feels like playing Enemy Territory: Quake Wars at first (no surprise that Neil Alphonso also worked on both the Quake and Wolfenstein versions of Enemy Territory) but they definitely added some things that made it more interesting. First of all, the Left Bumper acts like a contextual Mirror’s Edge button. This system, S.M.A.R.T. can be used to run, grab ledges, and jump over obstacles. Heavier classes won’t be able to go as fast or jump as high as lighter classes, so what paths are open to you in a map will depend on what class you have.
I tried to Rambo my way forward as a Soldier, but it just resulted in a quick and merciless death. Death is not instant -- instead, you slowly bleed out, giving a Medic time to heal you. Of course, all Medics on our team sucked, so while I just lay on the ground for 20 seconds, I checked out all the options in the Menu. While dying, you can look at all the objectives for your team in a dialing wheel. Doing so points you into the direction of the objective, so you know where to go when you spawn or get revived. A good medic can throw you a revive syringe that you can either use to revive on the spot, or can ignore and respawn at a designated point. A few minutes and deaths later, my teammates finally chose to be Medics so I could go on after stupidly getting mowed down again. The downside to being revived, rather than respawning, is that you keep the ammo you had when you died -- if you died low on ammo, you'll revive with the same amount. After having specific classes on our team hack into gates to open them, plant explosives, repair a crane, and escort a robot you had to get from the start to the end of the level, we won in the nick of time. As you progress through the map, the spawn points move with you so you don’t have to worry about running all the way back to the action. The game also has optional objectives that can reward experience, a Command Center where you can change classes, and various ways to boost your team.
The developers told us that we were playing at level 14 instead of level 1, which meant we were pretty much playing on Hard, or the level you would be at after playing for around five days. While I definitely died a lot, it didn’t feel impossible or that much harder than any standard multiplayer match at all. The build we played also allowed us access to some more weapons and abilities, which we normally would have had to unlock by gaining experience. A lot of things in the game provide you with experience. Finish an objective, kill enemies, the works. While talking to Neil Alphonso afterwards, I asked him if people who prefer singleplayer games and wanted to play Brink with AI teammates should be concerned about it being so multiplayer gameplay focused. He said that singleplayer oriented people would still have a good experience, because the AI really does a great job at emulating player behavior. To be honest, I thought we were playing against another press team while we were just playing bots, so they seem to be on the right track there. Singleplayer fans will be pleased that there is an actual narrative throughout the game, and there are a lot of visual narrative devices in the maps. Think Portal-esque graffiti and scenery such as a half broken satellite dish that people just keep on their roofs around in the hopes of receiving a signal one day. While Alphonso wouldn’t comment on the number of maps that would ship with the retail game, he did remind me that there are two sides to choose from which can give you vastly different experiences. A thing that stops most singleplayer gamers from entering multiplayer (other than raging 12 year old boys) is the steep curve from singleplayer pacing to multiplayer frantics. But in Brink, you are basically playing a singleplayer multiplayer experience anyway. And if you do co-op missions or multiplayer missions, you gain more experience for your persistent character. We all know everyone always wants more experience!
Brink looked like it was definitely a step up from the by now classic Enemy Territory design. The new features like the S.M.A.R.T. system for parkour-like movement change the gameplay dramatically because of all the approaches you can take to a level. Although I have to admit that team based multiplayer is really not my thing, Brink was a lot of fun to play. At least, when I wasn't dying. Maybe I’ll get better at it after launch, when I have more than 15 minutes into the game and learn not to play Rambo. If you are tired of Modern Warfare 2, and don’t care about Black Ops, then you should definitely give Brink a chance come demo time. It feels more focused, it’s short enough to pick up and play, and it should be a blast to play with other Dtoiders during FNF. As a final remark, I have to apologize to Paul Wedgewood, the Splash Damage CEO. I mistook him for a PR guy trying to tell me things I already knew so I kind of blew him off (not literally, jeez) so I could bug Alphonso for some more info. Sorry Paul!
One of the many games being shown at gamescom is Splash Damage’s Brink. If you're not familiar with Brink, it's an upcoming team-based co-operative first person shooter in development for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, & PC. I was able to get about 20 minutes of playtime while I spoke to the developers, so go ahead and check below for my hands-on impressions of Brink's multiplayer. read feature