When I got an email from Deep Silver saying that they had two unannounced games to show off at E3, I became hopeful that one would end up being the next project from Saints Row developer, Volition. Appreciably so, those dreams ended up becoming true, when the publisher announced Agents of Mayhem just before the show kicked off and invited me to go hands-on with it when I was in downtown Los Angeles.
Set in the expanded Saints Row universe, Agents of Mayhem is an arrogant, humorous and balls to the wall third-person shooter that isn’t afraid to be crass. Its action is not centered in the United States, though, and is instead centred in Seoul, Korea. That just so happens to be where the bad guys — dubbed LEGION — have stirred up shit and put a devious plan into motion.
Only four of MAYHEM’s agents have been revealed thus far, but it was said that more will be announced in the future. Expectedly, for the purposes of this year’s behind closed doors E3 demo, we were limited to just the core four. Only three could be used at one specific time, though, so some player choice was involved.
During my first play through of this twenty minute-long preview, I took advantage of the long range female soldier, the hulking, shotgun carrying brute and the arrogant, all around character named Hollywood. As expected, each one had its own pros and cons, and was better-served for certain situations. The shotgunner was best for close combat, the ranked agent’s bow was best for shooting from afar and Hollywood was good in most situations. Of course, given their descriptions, most of that was a given.
Truth be told, I didn’t end up using the bow carrier much as I didn’t find her to be all that helpful for my play style. I regretted picking her over the other female agent — who has two powerful pistols that pack quite a whallop — and was happy to discover that, because I completed the demo’s missions relatively quickly, I was able to go back through with her as part of my threesome.
This particular set of missions involved heading into downtown Seoul, in an effort to save a captured (A.I.) K-pop star who was in town for an appearance. That meant searching out the location of one of LEGION’s hideouts, which was conveniently hidden and only accessible through a button found in an “evil trashcan.” Of course, finding said trash destination didn’t come with incredible ease, as I was forced to deal with a handful of guards and blow shit up around them before doing any sort of investigation.
The rest of the demo tasked me with fighting my way into, then out of the technologically advanced hideout, before making my way to a nearby carrier for a slightly musical boss battle. All throughout, it was easy to tell that Agents of Mayhem has been inspired by comic books and superheroes.
So, how does the gameplay compare to that of Saints Row 4? It’s certainly similar in some ways, but based on what I saw, it doesn’t have the incredible superpowers that I fell in love with during my two playthroughs of Volition’s last release. I was able to double jump and dash, both on the ground and while in the air though, which helped me move throughout the environment with relative ease.
There’s definite verticality to Agents of Mayhem, and its combat is pretty fun. Each agent has a special main weapon, as well as a special move that can be used every so often. Think of things like the ability to shoot a powerful energy bomb, fire a grenade into the air or teleport enemies closer to you. These aren’t the cream of the crop when it comes to the game’s powers, though, because after successfully using these abilities a few times, you’ll unlock the opportunity to use a special MAYHEM power, which can be rather devastating when used properly. An example of that tier includes Hollywood’s ability to fire multiple mines in one direction.
It should be noted that, by pressing the DualShock 4’s share button, one can pull up an upgrade menu that allows for enhancements and customization. You can upgrade your agents individually, and can also customize the special abilities that they will have at their disposal. It’s a neat system which will hopefully be taken advantage of in the full game.
There’s not much more that I can say about Agents of Mayhem after just playing its short E3 demo, but I will end this by saying that I enjoyed it quite a bit. At first, I wasn’t sure of what to think, and was honestly a bit disappointed to note that it wasn’t another Saints Row sequel, but it definitely grew on me. In fact, when I jumped back into it and started playing the demo a second time, I found that I had developed a good feel for how to play it and that it became a lot more enjoyable as a result.