Dead Space 2 Multiplayer Beta Impressions
Some games are a natural fit for online multiplayer, others – like Bioshock or Dead Space 2, seem somewhat ill aligned. Visceral Games and Electronic Arts committed to adding the popular multiplayer option to Dead Space 2 in what is assumed to be an attempt to keep the game in play beyond the single-player storyline.
Well, like Bioshock 2, this sequel’s multiplayer seems on track to add a slightly different perspective to the traditional “capture the flag” game mode. Currently EA and Visceral games are hosting a PS3 invite-only closed beta. We’ve spent a few hours running around in the game and wanted to share our first impressions of this new feature with you.
Firstly, Dead Space as a setting is downright creepy and creepy is often a factor of isolation and moments of long eerie silence punctuated by instants of sheer terror and action. Dead Space 2′s multiplayer isn’t for recreating the tension of its single-player story. While this is a game full of Necromorphs and humans fighting to survive, the multiplayer action is centered on a timed team-based experience. Players join a game and get randomly sorted as either a Necro or Human. The Beta map featured objective based gameplay centered around the human team needing to collect objects and return them to a center hub while surviving a Necro attack.
Human gameplay in Dead Space 2 Multiplayer relies very heavily on co-operation and coordination. Lone gunmen will soon find themselves eliminated and since the human team has a limited amount of time, each death and the associated respawn cooldown drastically decreases the chances of a timely victory. Human players wield the Plasma cutter and Pulse Rifle and Necros in multiplayer are just as resilient to standard attacks and weak toward dismemberment as they are in the campaign game. Emptying a clip is far less efficient a tactic in this game than in say Call of Duty.
Playing as Necromorphs; however, is very different. The Necro players are class based, players begin play as a freaky child Necro and earn ranks to advance into diverse forms. Also, upon death Necro players can roam the map in free-camera mode and select a respawn point. Playing as a Necromorph was very reminiscent of playing a special infected in Left 4 Dead or not so strangely as an alien from the PC multiplayer classic Natural Selection. Your powers and abilities depend strongly on the form you choose, but are usually up-close melee lunges, which means that Necro players who use stealth often have an advantage over ranged weapon equipped humans.
Once the humans gather the items or time runs out you are given an opportunity to swap roles and try again. I found in practical play this didn’t always work. Necro players tend to play as solo death machines while humans need coordination to survive. Players who are good at stalking seldom made a good transition to team play, but it’s still a Beta and no one seemed comfortable all the time in any role.
Playing multiple matches also brings forth the now ubiquitous leveling options. Make kills, earn XP and gain ranks. Ranks unlock new options, etc. Nothing too new here honestly, but at least the idea of practice and persistence pays off for fans of the game.
Right now the game favors Necro players considerably. This may not be a matter of math but of gameplay style. I’ll be watching to see how things change in the final release.
Nowhere in my right mind did I think Dead Space 2 or its setting made for a good multiplayer option, but Visceral’s choice has me rethinking that assumption. Balance issues, as expected in any Beta, still need some work but this is the most fun I’ve had in a team game since I first tried Natural Selection on the PC years ago.