For many, Nosgoth is blasphemy. It feeds upon the rich lore of the beloved action adventure series The Legacy of Kain, extracting everything it can to fuel a free-to-play third-person shooter. Seemingly, everything that fans fell in love with has been stripped away, in favor of the current business models set in motion by the gaming industry. However, despite these negative associations, failing to give the arena-based combat a chance is certainly a mistake that even the eldest vampire will regret through eternity.
Nosgoth’s matches place you in the role of both humanity’s noblest warriors and the savage vampires that have plagued the kingdom for centuries. Currently, team deathmatch is the only mode available for waging war, but more seem to be on the horizon. In fact, an ominously disabled Siege mode lingers in the menus, waiting to be activated.
In spite of its limited amount of options, there’s still plenty to enjoy from Nosgoth’s core gameplay. Each match is split into two rounds, where players alternate between the two races. Mastering both sides is crucial to ensuring victory and understanding the three separate classes, for each race, and presents an interesting balancing act.
Defending humanity gives players access to Hunters, Alchemists and Scouts. All humans have the ability to sprint and dodge and combining these maneuvers with the distinct abilities of each class is key to survival. Hunters can wrap vampires up in bolas and unleash a barrage of crossbow fire with explosive projectiles. Alchemists are capable of lobbing explosives from their launcher and toss vials that erupt in walls of fire to separate their team from vampires. Scouts can call in volleys of arrows from distant archers that cover a circular area, while drawing their bows back for powerful sniper shots.
In order to extend your life in combat, it’s important to visit shrines scattered throughout the map. These stock up your ammunition and fill up your health, which makes memorizing the layout of every environment crucial to survival.
Vampires are a different beast entirely, and are extremely fun to play as. While the humans are bound to the ground, vampires can scale walls and leap from rooftop to rooftop. Psyonix has given the vampires such a distinct personality that it makes your time with the humans seem like a countdown until you can switch sides.
Selecting from either Reavers, Tyrants, or Sentinels presents a variety of options for eradicating the human threat of genocide. Reavers have a pounce attack that launches you across the map. Combining this with a shadow bomb, which humans can’t see through, leads to awesome exchanges of cat and mouse gameplay. Tyrants are the tanks of the equation with the charge ability that allows you to barrel through enemies and combining this attack with the ground slam ability makes for a lethal combination. Sentinels, on the other hand, are arguably the most interesting vampire class, with the ability to spread their massive wings and kidnap humans, soaring high into the sky and dropping them for massive fall damage. This can be followed up with a dive bomb attack that makes quick work of the bags of flesh waiting for harvesting.
Oh, you’ll harvest them alright. While humans can resupply and gain health from various shrines, vampires can feed upon humans to fill their health. Interestingly, this leaves you vulnerable as a feeding animation reveals the brutality of the vampire threat. Luckily, you can drag your bag of flesh to a safe location for feeding.
Ensuring that you gain a mastery of each class and race will march you closer to victory, but Nosgoth is very much a game that relies on cooperation. If you hold on to a lone wolf mentality, you are doing yourself a disservice. Sticking close to your allies will prevent you from visiting the respawn menu regularly.
Completing each match rewards players with experience and gold. Respectively, XP unlocks new items while gold is the in-game currency that allows you to purchase them for use in Nosgoth’s store. Each item and perk can be unlocked for use during a seven-day trial, or unlocked permanently for a significantly higher cost. Of course, dropping real world currency on Runestones allows you to purchase abilities and equipment without having to grind out levels and gold.
Overall, Psyonix has managed to create a fine gameplay balance here, which ensures that you won’t find yourself bashing your keyboard because someone invested their entire week’s paycheck into the store. Additionally, various skins are available for each class but, they are completely locked behind a paywall. It’s a minor annoyance and is something that comes with the nature of the free-to-play model.
Nosgoth may not be the Legacy of Kain sequel you were hoping for, but it’s a refreshing addition to the free-to-play marketplace and is definitely worth your attention.