It’s been four years since Sacred fans were treated to their last romp through the land of Ancaria in Sacred 2: Fallen Angel. Although fans can look forward to the world of Ancaria once more in Sacred Citadel, for many this isn’t the new entry they were hoping for; and that’s why Deep Silver and Keen Games are creating Sacred 3 to really please the fans – and boy does look like a crowd pleaser.
Announced during Gamescom in 2010, two years later we finally get to see the first glimpses of what’s been going on behind those closed doors, and it certainly seems that Sacred 3 is shaping up really rather nicely – despite stil being a fair way off it’s 2013 launch. First things first, Keen Games took a step back and had a look at what the Sacred franchise really needed before they would move on. After the massive success that was Sacred 2, the team decided that they wanted to build upon what made it so successful – instead of just going off and creating a game they felt would be befitting. It turns out that it was endgame content that Sacred 2 really needed bolstering; so now you’ll be spending more time in Ancaria with a friend via four player online co-op.
The teams desire was to bring the hack ‘n’ slash RPG genre back to life, delivering “expressive gameplay” and letting “the art of gameplay” be brought right to the players fingertips with powerful and beautiful moves that can be executed throughout the game. At the forefront of those powerful moves are the games races, of which two were on show during our behind closed doors previews: the Safiri and the Ancarians. The former are your warrior types, having come from across the ocean to put their feud with the Ancari aside so they can help defend the world; the latter are more magic based in their attacks as they’ve long been guerilla fighters and so utilise the elements of the earth to aid them in combat.
To create these expressive and artistic moves, Combat Arts have had a slight revamp and have become “more than just spells” according to our lovely presenter. Just like in Sacred Citadel you can now combine Combat Arts with your co-op partners for some devastating damage, and the more paired moves you perform the more powerful they’ll become thanks to a reward system that celebrates allegiances between players and races. It’s thanks to the fluid combat that these Combat Arts also look ruddy beautiful when they’re being performed – that and the fact that Sacred 3 just looks really rather incredible for a game in this stage of development.
Usually in isometric games the camera is fixed in it’s isometry, however with Sacred 3 they want to be able to use the environment to tell a story, and so at key points an “active camera” – as it’s been dubbed – swoops in to show scale and scope. Also in an effort to bring more immersive gameplay, the world itself can also be used as a weapon, with many environmental traps and triggers that can be utilised against your foes – who also have multiple damage zones, meaning you’ve got to go in tactically against enemies instead of wading in willy-nilly.
Interestingly, levels are actually rather open plan affairs, meaning that new paths and hidden areas are open to you depending on your characters abilities and moves – some even require multiple players to help you overcome some areas. Of course, where’s all the fun if it’s solely just a cooperative affair? While there isn’t PvP style play, there are medals and achievements to nab at te end of each level, which directly compares who did better across the level – this in turn then allows you to grab different loot during the course of the game.
While co-op is only for use online to ensure frame rate remains consistently high, I was told that gameplay will clock in at around the 100 hour mark, which is before you factor in engame and multiplayer content. This is due to each level being able to be played multiple times so each time it “tells a different story,” whatever that means. There are also plans for DLC to arrive, however they haven’t actually begun drafting options yet – but they do wish to support the game for “as long as possible.”
By the time Sacred 3 releases it’ll have been five years since fans were last able to sink their teeth into the world of Ancaria, and so they should be really rather ravenous for another taste. Honestly, as I’ve never played a Sacred title in my life, this does look like it’ll offer up everything fans could possibly want, and then some. This is definitely one you should watch, even if – like me – you’ve never taken a look at a Sacred game before.