"...what impressed me the most about Heroes of Ruin was the extensive use of the 3DS's features and all they had to offer."
Very shortly before E3, Square Enix announced a brand new Nintendo 3DS project titled Heroes of Ruin. Developed by n-Space, who was responsible for the DS version of Call of Duty: Black Ops, this is an action RPG which can be played either solo or with friends. During the show, I had a chance to sit down with n-Space to chat about the title, and get some hands-on time with the demo's co-op mode.
Heroes of Ruin takes place when Nexus's ruler, Lord Ataraxis, falls victim to a deadly curse. His illness now threatens a fragile peace agreement - a peace reached when Ataraxis and the other Lords ended a hundred-year-long war that had taken over the entire land. The four mercenaries who set out to find the cure are the four different characters which you will choose from when the game begins. Each has their own skills and their own motives for attempting to help heal Ataraxis.
The gunslinger, an ex-criminal who has become a wanderer, sets out on hopes of repaying some debts. He uses evasive tactics, pistols, and bombs in battle. The brave sword-wielding vindicator travels the world in hopes to regain good standing with his Order. The alchitect is a student skilled in magic - only she hopes to become the best at what she does. Finally, the exiled savage, who boasts strength and deadly close-combat skills, is out to prove something to the homeland - or tribe - that turned him away. Each class has the option of either gender, and you can customize his or her appearance to your liking. As the character develops, you also get to change their armor, battle style, weapons (or perhaps magic in the case of the Alchitect), and even their abilities.
The first thing I noticed about Heroes of Ruin was the vibrant and colorful visuals, which fit really well with the 3D technology and really enhanced the graphics of the demo. Also, dungeon layouts are always randomly generated, as are the items inside, so you'll never be exploring in the exact same area twice. Co-op setup was straightforward - you can choose to host a game and other players can drop in and drop out of your game as they wish. Using the 3DS mic, you'll be able to communicate with your party, which can support up to four players at a time.
Each of the four characters has a variation of attacks even in the beginning; I mostly spent time as the sword-wielding vindicator, who had both a strong and weak attacks. Abilities, magic, and items can all be mapped to buttons you choose for quick ease of use; since the battles are real-time, these shortcuts will come in handy for your most commonly used and abused abilities. Otherwise, you're stuck tediously going through menus for that one cool sword move that you forgot to link to your X button.
After battle, you collect items and money automatically by walking over them, but you choose whether to pick up equipment, sell it, or leave it alone. Conveniently enough, the screen shows how much money you can sell a piece of equipment for if you do so right then and there. However, those who are more hard up for in-game cash may want to keep that object and sell it for a bit of extra money later after visiting the shop themselves.
With Heroes of Ruin, n-Space is truly aiming to use what they could of the 3DS's technology, even aside from the 3D visuals and mic support. Other players that you encounter via StreetPass can access the inventory of items and equipment which you've sold, and purchase from that selection - and vice versa. And through SpotPass, the developer plans to update the game once a day with all kinds of content (including new challenges, items, and quests) for a year after release.
In the end, what impressed me the most about Heroes of Ruin was the extensive use of the 3DS's features and all they had to offer, especially the 3D effect on the visuals. Although I didn't get to explore character progression and customization in my short time, these features also sounded quite promising - as they allow the player to develop a character to suit your own play style. Heroes of Ruin will see a North American release later this year.