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Nosgoth launches soon after over a year in Early Access

Kain you believe it?

Remember Nosgoth? The free-to-play competitive multiplayer action set within the Legacy of Kain universe? After over a year in Early Access, it's nearing launch.

Nosgoth is the other game Rocket League developer Psyonix is working on. It's a team-based human versus vampire multiplayer game that revolves around fast-paced, third-person shooter and melee gameplay.

Bill Beacham, design director at publisher Square Enix London Studios, told Eurogamer the aim is for Nosgoth to leave Early Access "very shortly".

"We haven't announced a date for that but it will be soon," he said. "We're just going through a final stage of bug fixing and quality control to make sure when we do go out of Early Access, the game is as robust as it can be."

Beacham said the plan is to release an update for Nosgoth shortly before it launches that adds a new class for the human side: the Beastmaster.

Psyonix design director Corey Davis said Nosgoth had benefited from its extended stay in Early Access, with players influencing everything from class balance to map design.

"When we launched into Early Access we only had three maps in the game," Davis said. "We've doubled that now. The feedback on those first three maps heavily shaped what we did going forward. Players wanted more variety and different types of map designs and elevations than we were doing in the first three maps. We actually went back and touched up those maps based on player feedback.

"It was an iterative process with the community in terms of what the competitive map list should look like for this game and how it should play out."

When Nosgoth was announced it endured a mixed reaction. Fans of the Legacy of Kain series had hoped for a single-player, story-driven game in the series - not a multiplayer-only spin-off.

This scepticism was fuelled by the revelation that Square Enix had signed UK developer Climax Studios, of Assassin's Creed: Chronicles fame, to make a single-player, story-driven Legacy of Kain game, subtitled Dead Sun. That game was cancelled in 2012.

"We always knew there were going to be questions asked about the game, about why we were doing it," Beacham said. "And we had a lot of conversations at the time around that. But we all felt the game was strong enough to stand on its own, so we made the decision to press ahead with that.

"A lot of the negativity we saw up front, we understood. It's never pleasant but it wasn't a surprise. But when people came to play the game rather than just have a knee-jerk reaction to the news itself, a lot of them were pleasantly surprised."

There's evidence to suggest Nosgoth has quietly turned this once sceptical audience into an enthusiastic one: user reviews on Steam are categorised as "mostly positive".

"It's a different type of game," Beacham continued, "but that doesn't detract from what it offers. It's the kind of experience you don't get in a lot of other PvP multiplayer games. That's what you see on Steam: people who have taken time to try it out rather than have an instinctive reaction. I quite understand why people had those issues. We all do. But it hasn't detracted from the enjoyment of the players themselves."

Davis said it had seen two types of players get stuck in with Nosgoth: multiplayer fans who didn't know anything about Legacy of Kain but were intrigued by its gameplay, and Legacy of Kain fans who only expressed interest because it was set in that universe.

Psyonix has tried to appeal to both sets of players with gameplay that is familiar to fans of multiplayer shooters, and nods to Legacy of Kain lore for fans of Soul Reaver.

"Even though it's a multiplayer game, we've done as much as we can, even just in map design to make things coherent to the old games based on what the different vampire clans are like, going through the old storyline to figure out locations and how things would work," Davis explained.

"There aren't big cutscenes, but at least from an artistic side we're doing everything we can to, if you were to look at some of the maps you could see like, okay I can see what they would use this room for if this was a real environment. It's not just a bunch of buildings and doors all over the place.

"So even going into the map design we'll come up with a little internal storyline of what this town is used for, and we'll check the lore to add in elements from that in. So a lot of it's more subtle because there's no cutscenes, but it's always been very important from the beginning to make sure it still fits in even though it's not Soul Reaver 3."

Right now Nosgoth isn't blowing anyone's socks off, but it does enjoy a loyal community of players, an audience that's set to expand soon following launch proper.

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