June 24, 2019 by Paul Curtin
For those disappointed that Blizzard is releasing their next Diablo game on mobile devices before Diablo 4 comes to PC, Novarama’s upcoming Killsquad could be the game for you this summer.
Similar to Housemarque’s visually-stunning PS4-exclusive, Alienation, Killsquad is a top-down ARPG where you can team up with three other players online to complete contracts on alien planets, slay bosses, and unlock tons of sweet loot.
The developers at Novarama are catering to both fans of melee-based ARPGs and top-down shooters with their impressive skill-based combat system. At this year’s E3, we got a chance to go hands-on with all four of the game’s unique sci-fi classes: Assassin, Warrior, Specialist, and Support — each of which had their own perks that made them fun to play.
From our brief time playing the game, we saw how the Assassin class can use a mix of quick melee attacks with blades and stealth skills to avoid enemies. Warriors act as tanks with larger melee weapons and are able to perform high-flying aerial slams. While Specialists and Support have access to an entire arsenal of dual-wielding hand cannons and big sci-fi guns.
But unlike other ARPGs, Killsquad’s twist is that players need to level up their skill tree on each mission. Each level unlocked allows the player to pick a new ability and once hitting level six, players get to pick their ultimate ability. But the leveling doesn’t stop at six and ultimates can become stronger in drastically different ways. This adds a very interesting MOBA-like dynamic to the game that should help keep gameplay from becoming repetitive.
With Killsquad first coming to Steam this summer (consoles at a later date), we were also pleasantly surprised with how well both the keyboard and mouse and controller configurations worked. Both felt so responsive that we didn’t have any complaints about either.
Although we usually prefer using the keyboard/mouse combo on PC, we love using a controller for top-down shooters and we’re still not sure which option we’ll stick with when playing the full game on PC — which says a lot about how much thought the devs have put into both when some games on PC don’t even support a controller.
Of course, as with any RPG, big bosses who drop plenty of loot is the driving force that keeps players coming back for more. Featuring procedurally-generated missions and maps, Killsquad looks to have plenty of unique foes, upgradeable gear, and character customization options that will hopefully keep players active for a long time in the community.
Our contract mission at E3 ended with a boss encounter that played out similar to fighting a tank in Valve’s Left 4 Dead series. The massive alien monster had a wide range of attacks that required our team of four to constantly stay on the move. Tricking the beast into slamming head-first into walls and exposing its back was our best strategy which allowed us to take down the boss after a few minutes and successfully collect our bounty.
One problem that we’ve noticed over the years is how some of the best sci-fi shooter/ARPG mashups like Alienation, Warhammer: Inquisitor, and Livelock have all lacked that extra level of depth which keeps the Diablo and Path of Exile communities thriving. Killsquad’s passionate developers seem to understand how to fix this problem in their sci-fi ARPG by skipping straight to the end-game and promising plenty of new future content after the game enters early access later this summer on Steam.