ReCore could’ve just as easily been named ‘DeCore’

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If your glass is half empty on robot murder

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To some extent, ReCore‘s name makes sense. It’s a game about restoring power by stashing new cores in currently power-less things. But, in a more minute-to-minute sense, it could’ve also been titled DeCore because getting those power sources is reliant upon you creatively ripping them out of your enemies. It’s a vicious circle of robotic life.

Both names would’ve been perfectly fitting, but it’s easy to see how co-developers Armature and Comcept went with ReCore; it’s ostensibly the main goal of the game (as far as we know, anyhow). In a recent presentation at E3, we didn’t have time to delve too far into the ReCore part, just the DeCore part.

We were shown a slice of the game that takes place very early on, and were told that protagonist Joule intentionally knows more about the world’s circumstances than the player does at this point. Mark Pacini, game director at Armature, was keen to fill us in. ReCore takes place on a distant planet called Far Eden. A terraforming initiative is in full effect on other planets because Earth’s future is uncertain. ReCore picks up on Far Eden as Joule awakes to find something has gone awry as the humans are gone and the robots are suddenly hostile.

At first glance, ReCore is striking in its vast, empty openness. Winds sweep across the tall desert landscape, blowing yet more sand on Far Eden’s many machines. It’s a place that feels hopeless in its desolation, but maybe an injection of the artificial could change that. Maybe robots could change that. It’s hard to imagine humans living here except as a last resort.

According to Pacini, this is only part of ReCore‘s set dressing. A lot of the game takes place in underground labyrinths and dungeons. Several of these are along the critical path, but a lot of them are also hidden. The developers want exploration to play a big role in ReCore; they want players to scour that open overworld to find routes to the hidden subterranean areas. That’s why falling into the abyss doesn’t come with a fail state, but rather immediately places you back to where you took that ill-fated leap. Pacini says that it’s important to encourage exploration, not penalize it.

Once underground, we see Joule’s knack for fighting. Pacini tells us that ReCore‘s combat is about timing and movement rather than accuracy and precision. It reminds of Quantum Break a bit in that sense. Running around and shooting in the direction of enemies is a much better tactic than standing in one spot. Early into the first encounter with contentious robots, we’re shown the puzzle-like element to combat. Each robot has a colored core and Joule is tasked with changing ammunition types to match it. Doing so deals extra damage.

Bolstering the combat system is a combo meter which slowly builds. Pacini told us that people could probably reach a 20-hit combo in the E3 demo; he declined to comment on what kind of numbers were possible further into the game. Like the color-matching mechanic, the combo system also allows Joule to deal extra damage. Eventually it’ll get high enough that she’s allowed to instantly extract an enemy’s core.

Really, that’s what this is all building to. ReCore‘s main progression scheme is about extracting cores from enemy robots in order to upgrade your own robots. Pacini also declined to explain much about how this worked, instead opting to for the PR-approved “We’ll be talking more about that later.”

As far as friendly robots go, we got to see a bit of Mack, the dog-like bot. Each companion has a Lethal attack that is of utmost importance; Mack’s is a dash that, as far as we could tell, serves as an insta-kill. However, his main function is as an exploration robot which we learned when he unearthed a key for us.

The presentation concluded with a fight against Iron Fang, a boss of sorts. He had a constantly changing core, meaning that Joule had to also continuously switch. It’s not a tough compliance to make, as it’s as simple as pressing a direction on the d-pad. Still, Iron Fang was a more formidable foe than the robots leading up to him, proving his worthiness of being called a boss. When he fell, Joule was rewarded with a power source that was a disco ball’s mashup of colors.

At this point, we know what ReCore is, but we don’t truly know what ReCore is. It’s a mix of exhaustive exploration, Metroid Prime-style environment-traversal platforming puzzles, and snappy combat. All of those aspects seem great on their own. We have less than three months left to find out if they’ll work together to create a functioning machine, or if they’ll wind up just a bunch of loose individual components.

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Brett Makedonski
While you laughing, we're passing, passing away. So y'all go rest y'all souls, 'Cause I know I'ma meet you up at the crossroads. Y'all know y'all forever got love from them Bone Thugs baby...