The vampire Kain has been running around causing havoc since 1996, when he debuted in his first game on the original PlayStation. He was joined by his partner in crime and former lieutenant Raziel in 1999, and the rest was history.
Since then, the Legacy of Kain franchise has been building lore and accumulating fans, mostly due to its dark charm and solid set of games. But a true continuation hasn't happened since Defiance in 2003, so we're all waiting to see what the newly announced Nosgoth can do.
Sadly, it doesn't really seem add to the franchise in any noticeable way, but it's not a bad way to spend your time if you enjoy third-person shooters.
Publisher: Square Enix
First things first, Nosgoth is a free-to-play third-person shooter. That kind of stings, doesn't it -- seeing a once great action-adventure franchise turn to this model? Well not everything is a lost cause, as I actually had a bit of fun during my many sessions with the game, and came out pleasantly surprised by how serviceable it was -- even if I think the Legacy of Kain name is being exploited.
Combat is done by way of a 4v4 showdown of humans vs. vampires. The only mode available in my current build was team deathmatch, which could change somewhere down the line. The classes you can choose from are as follows: Hunter (a mid-range more sturdy human), Scout (ranged), Alchemist (tactical), Reaver (basically a Hunter from Left 4 Dead), Tyrant (a giant tank), and the Sentinel (a sneaky flyer). The former three are humans, and the latter three are vampires, in case you couldn't tell.
Humans operate in a more traditional manner, sporting crossbows and other ranged abilities. Special attacks involve things like raining down arrows in a circular area (AOE), and using a bola power to trip up and stun vampires -- pretty standard stuff all around. You can use the right mouse button to zoom in and take sniper shots, or just "no scope" it and fire faster close range. To be blunt, the humans are a lot less fun to play as than the vampires, who really steal the show.
The best part of my entire experience with Nosgoth is probably the ability to run up walls as a vampire, and get just about anywhere you need to go. I was in many tense situations where I dropped in on a human only to find that he had friends at the ready to ambush me, and quickly retreated up a giant castle to disappear into the darkness.
The Sentinel is my favorite class, as he has the "kidnap" ability, which allows you to carry a human up in the air with his wings and drop them. You can also "execute" humans to get life back (read: ravage their corpses and drink their blood), but that leaves you vulnerable -- so at times, you'll have to "drag" a corpse into a tiny alcove while you do your dirty work. You'll switch at the end of every round, so you'll need to master both races to really succeed at the game.
Developer Psyonix has done a great job of making the vampires feel unique and fun, and if they can ratchet up the humans a bit it'll result in many tense matches regardless of what group you play as. There's no controller support at the moment, but thankfully the mouse and keyboard work like a charm.
Nosgoth is free-to-play, but from what I can tell so far, it's basically using the League of Legends model wholesale, which is a good thing. Roughly two games will earn you enough gold for a new perk, and six games will earn you more meaningful weapons or pieces of gear. Every game contributes to your experience bar, which in turn unlocks new content. Skins are strictly bought through premium currency, as are XP and gold boosts. Although this is just an alpha phase and nothing is final, I didn't really find anything in the store that impeded my ability to play the game and have fun.
Nosgoth may have the look and feel of a genetic third-person shooter, but I'd put it near the top of said shooter pile compared to some of the drivel we get these days. It's not going to set the world on fire for Legacy of Kain fans by any stretch of the imagination, but as long as the free-to-play elements are kept in check, it should be a fine diversion for those of you looking for a new distraction.