Hey there boys and girls! You know about all that talk of Diablo III coming to consoles, right? Well I'm here to tell you to not get your hopes up because hopes and dreams are stupid. And also because Sony is about to give us the next best thing with Ruin, the working title of Sony's next big RPG on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita.
Ruin (Working title) (PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita [Previewed])
Ruin, a top-down, loot heavy, dungeon crawler RPG, has drawn its fair share of comparisons to Diablo. That's not to say that this game is some sort of console knock-off of the PC giant. Ruin has a number of defining features that make it stand apart from any other RPG and it all starts with the lair. In Ruin, lairs are a sort of personal hub area where players can customize weapons and armor, decorate with items gained on quest, and equip minions among other things. Lairs breakdown into three section: the sanctum, the forge, and the minion den.
The sanctum makes up the biggest portion of your lair, acting as a house are that you can decorate. The cool thing about decoration in Ruin is that obtaining them is all based on your accomplishments and serve as bragging rights. Have you defeated that high level boss? Reforged the legendary lost blade? Defeated a certain amount of high level enemies? For every prestigious act you accomplish you get a new decoration to put in your sanctum.
You can bring friends into your sanctum or visit others to quite literally see a players progression translated as fully rendered items. The sanctum also carries all of the items and features that affect your characters stats. Its all very reminiscent of the menu system (or lack thereof) of Fable III. Decorations themselves can get more elaborate as you go along too. So, for example, if you defeat 10 high level sub-bosses you may get a statue to place in your sanctum. Defeat 30 and that statue may become more and more elaborate with jewel, ornaments and other decor. Lairs also get bigger as you level up, increasing the size of you sanctum and the amount of items you can place.
The second section of the lair is the forge, where you (surprise!) forge items. Using ingredients and recipes found during quests, the forge allows you to craft stat altering items for your sanctum, armor and weapons for your minions as well as for yourself. Weapons in Ruin are pretty different though from what we have come to expect in RPGs.
You don't gain powerful weapons as you go along. Rather, you gain weapons that have the potential to be powerful. Confused? Its actually a pretty simple, yet clever system. When you go on a quest you might find a sword that, for example, can be taken to the forge and beefed up to do 200 points of ice damage. Or you might take it to the forge and construct it so that it does 170 wind damage and 10% chance at a critical hit. The whole point of this is to have players more attached and invested in the weapons and loot they craft, beyond simple number crunching. Rather than discard a weapon for one that does 30 more point of damage or something, Ruin's crafting system is meant to make you think twice before tossing away a weapon as you just spent quite some time adjusting it to your liking.
The final piece to Ruin's lair system is the minion den where players customize a small army of henchmen. Remember how I said that you can show off your sanctum and look at other peoples cool stuff? Well Ruin allows you to attack other peoples sanctum for quick XP. Before players can get to your lair though, they must get through your private army that you can customize from a range creatures such as grunts, heavies, lieutenants, sub-bosses and bosses.
The minion den is essentially where you micromanage your team's lineup as well as their weapons and armor. Having your lair attacked isn't the worst thing ever, though. While attackers gain XP for their aggressiveness, in an odd twist, you to gain a little XP for being attacked. If you or your minions manage to kill your aggressors, you gain a greater amount of XP. Of course, if you don't survive an attack, the aggressor gains that bigger batch of XP. Basically, once the dust settles the point is that everyone walks away with something to show for their efforts. There are no winners and losers so much as there is the guy that did good and the guy that did better. It's an interesting deviation from the tradition system of rewards and punishment, but honestly if someone cuts through all my hard earned defenses I would want something to show for it.
Ruin also features a class system for its character creation. Players will have the option to choose from a mage, assassin (the rouge/thief class), and a warrior. The warriors combat is pretty standard stuff with light and heavy attacks, a block button, as well as some basic combos that you can string together with your light and heavy attacks. Warriors also have special attacks that require mana, such as a charge and a room-clearing stomp.
Combat with the assassin is a completely ranged affair and uses and evade rather than a block button. Your main light attack is throwing knives while your secondary heavy attack has you throwing bombs. Bombs do more damage than knives, but your effectiveness with them is directly proportional to you ability to build up combos with your throwing knives. Normally you can only throw one bomb at a time, but build up a three hit combo and you can throw two bombs at once. Three bombs with a six hit combo and so forth. The assassin also has some special mana-burning abilities, like a back stab that teleports you behind every onscreen enemy and stabs them in the back. The mage was not part of our demo. Overall, combat has a very basic, button-mashing feel to it.
Being a Vita title, Ruin makes use of some of the new features, and perhaps has the best use of the Vita's Cross-play. At any point in the game, whether you're in your lair or in the middle of a quest, you can transfer your game to and from your PS3 or Vita, picking up right where you left off when you were transferring your game. When I mean right where you left off, I do mean right where you left off. Not back at a your last checkpoint, but right where your character was standing when you paused to transfer.
Though it's sadly not a launch title, Ruin is the Vita game that has me most intrigued. Of course since it is also coming to the PlayStation 3 (a system I already own), and so far does nothing unique with the Vita version, my excitement is considerably quelled. If the loot and forging system is as deep as it appears though, me and every other RPG nut has something to look out for in 2012.