It has been exactly 1 year and 3 months, or 458 days, since Unreal Tournament 3 hit store shelves in late 2007. In that time it has been a roller coaster for many of us, with a plethora of issues with the game we wanted fixed and general disinterest in the game seeming widespread. However, Epic hopes to combat all of that with their upcoming "Titan Pack" expansion pack for the PC and PS3. Will all their wildest dreams come true? We'll let you decide.
The first, and probably most important, reveal this week was that the Titan Pack will be free, gratis, no cost. This was certainly the question lingering on everyone's mind after the hint about the pack was dropped late last year. Surely the second most important piece of information is that the pack is due for release on March 5th, 2009. I know, I know, two weeks!
First, let's go over the content then we'll review a little of the new gameplay.
A Load of Content...
Included in the Titan Pack will be a total of:
- 16 environments - 4 Warfare, 3 vCTF, 6 Deathmatch, and 3 CTF maps – that are new to the PC and PS3 versions
- Three bonus pack maps, CTF-Face, CTF-Searchlight and DM-Morbias (with preview pics)
- The namesake Titan mutator, which lets players overwhelm opponents as a 15 foot tall titan, or crush them as a 30 foot tall Behemoth
- Greed and Betrayal, two gametypes that breed new-found fervor throughout the competitive UT3 arena
- Two powerful weapons, the Stinger Turret and Eradicator Cannon artillery
- Two valuable deployables, the X-Ray Field and Link Station
- The Slow Field power-up, a portable version of the Slow Field deployable
- Stealthbender, a new vehicle that carries two spidermine trap deployables, one EMP mine, and one each of the new Link Station and X-Ray Field deployables
- Two new characters, Nova and Kana (Liandri and Ronin, respectively)
- 57 awards attainable as Steam Achievements and PS3 Trophies
- Broad improvements for PC and PS3: Significant AI enhancements, especially in vehicle gametypes; networking performance upgrades; greatly improved menu flow and UI usability; better mod support
- Client-side demo recording, highly improved Server Browser, a new maplist system, plus mid-game mutator and gametype voting functionality for PC
- High demand PS3 features including PS3 Trophy support, two-player split-screen support, and mod browsing
Whew! That's a quite a load of content there! I was happily surprised with some of these additions, not only is Epic making sound decisions with the game (the Steam integration is a personal favorite of mine, and I'd love to see it expand even further) but they are loading the game down with a lot of new content to hopefully inspire people to come back. So, what is all this new stuff anyway? Let's have yet another run-down of just the new gametypes.
The Titan mutator brings a fresh game mechanic to all the classic Unreal Tournament gametypes. Fill your Titan meter by killing enemies (with bonuses for multikills and killing sprees), capturing flags or nodes, and completing other game objectives. When your meter is full, you can transform at any time into a giant with a super powerful rocket launcher, massive hit points, and a devastating ground pound attack. Killed Titans self-destruct after a short countdown, so get out of the way if you assassinate one! Once you’ve become a Titan, fill your meter again to transform into a Behemoth. Behemoths are huge (almost 30 feet tall) walking mountains of destruction, but they self destruct after thirty seconds. It’s important to pick the right time to transform into a Titan, as this mode also has several limitations. Titans can’t drive vehicles, or carry flags, orbs, or Greed skulls. Titans also can’t capture Warfare nodes, or pick up any weapons or powerups.
This instagib game type pits players against each other, while they cooperate in temporary alliances. Only one player is the final winner, and the difference between victory and defeat often lies in knowing when to betray your teammates.
Opponents have a score above their head, reflecting their value if the player gibs them. Current teammates are blue. Every kill by a teammate adds one point to the team pot, shown at the top of your HUD. Teammates can betray each other using the alternate fire of the rifle, which shoots a blue beam. Assassinating a teammate gives the assassin both the score over that player’s head, and all the points accrued in the pot. However, the assassin becomes a Rogue for 30 seconds, during which he is not on any team, and his former teammates can garner a score bonus for getting payback by killing him. The score above a Rogue’s head is red for his former teammates. Once the rogue timer has counted down, the rogue can join a new team. Daggers beside each player’s name shows the number of times that player has betrayed his teammates.
Greed is a CTF gametype that is almost entirely based on the UT2004 mod of the same name. Greed is a fast paced team game played on CTF and VCTF maps. When a player dies, he drops a skull representing his life force, along with any other skulls he was carrying. Silver skulls are worth 1 point, Gold skulls are worth 5 points, and Red skulls are worth 20 points. Deliver skulls to the enemy base to score them. As the clock winds down, players will end up fighting over huge hoards of skulls, with each side desperately trying to stop the other team from scoring them while players try to survive all the way to the enemy base.
Now, how about those maps... Let's have a quick run down of those as well. There are 19 new maps total. Three of them being the maps including in the earlier UT3 Bonus Pack and five of them the maps previously exclusive to the 360 version of the game. The others are a mix of maps we already suspected and some brand new ones.
Dark Match - In preparation for the assault on Oxida Nova, Izanagi bombers targeted supply lines and other sites of important infrastructure. This power station was one of the first to be hit, and is now left to defend itself while running only on auxiliary reserves. Attack forces have moved in, and the facility's lights haven't even been restored. This level provides a unique twist on deathmatch in a darkened laboratory lit intermittently by a particle accelerator and emergency lights, and by muzzle flashes and explosions. (As suspected this is not a gametype, sadly)
Ocean Relic - This ancient structure was discovered in the depths of an ocean rift 53 miles off the southern coast of Absalom. While the planet's seemingly endless supply of sentient Nanoblack has kept the facility active, its origins and ultimate purpose remain a mystery. This level features the slow field powerup, a portable version of the slow field deployable.
Eden, Inc. - This industrial complex was once a hydroponic research facility focused on saving rare and endangered species. When their grant ran out, funds dried up and all work was suspended. Months later, demo crews moved in to pave the path for a new highway and found that many of the research seedlings had taken root and continued to grow. This level features the introduction of deployables to deathmatch, with both a spidermine trap and an X-Ray field deployable available.
Turbine - Axon Research Corporation has many geothermal power stations just like this scattered across the northern reaches of Taryd. They form a tight grid that supplies power to the research facilities and military installations common to the area. This level features the return of a classic Unreal Tournament deathmatch layout.
Koos Barge - Continuing their long tradition of expertly crafted sea vessels, Koos Shipping now offers barge services across all of Taryd's oceans and waterways. While the prices are exorbitant, they're the only line that guarantees that your shipment will arrive on time and undamaged, even when shipping lanes take them across the frozen polar regions. (Previously exclusive to the 360)
Lost Cause - The Necris have not revealed the original purpose of this crumbling structure, nor have they explained why it was decommissioned. It stands on the cliffs of Absalom as a monument to history, a living link to the Necris ancestors.
Capture the Flag
Morbid - Morbias Station Gamma is a transport hub that services overflow traffic passing through Taryd's jumpgates. The Station offers a terrestrial shuttle, storage facilities (with quarantine services for live cargo), and a social center where guests can meet incoming visitors or hold private meetings in a neutral setting. Designed for use with the Titan mutator, Morbid includes heavy blast doors that can only be operated by Titans.
Nanoblack - Giant vats of Nanoblack are processed and stored in facilities like this one across Omicron. The structures are largely self-sustaining once operational, and are upheld with much reverence by those who respect the power and significance of the Nanoblack seething within. Public access is highly restricted.
Shaft - The substrata mines of Taryd produced over 800 gigatons of Tarydium last year alone. Production never stops here, not even for war, and mining drones will remain operational even as chaos erupts around them.
Vehicle Capture the Flag
Stranded - Civilian contractors are often used to reliably transport supplies and equipment over short distances on Taryd, but when this cargo ship full of Axon supplies ran aground in Izanagi territory, a military unit was quickly dispatched to defend the area until a full extraction team could be assembled.
Rails - Even areas of new construction can be exploited as weak points in Oxida Nova's defenses, so the Iron Guard has established a series of mobile turrets to patrol the perimeter of this worksite. With several city blocks of terrain to cover, including an access point through the city's canal system, protecting this site will be a challenge to even the most experienced of teams. (Previously exclusive to the 360)
Suspense Necris - Suspense is the only bridge across the Alluvion strong enough to support the weight of heavy combat vehicles. It is under attack by Necris forces that control one river bank. (Previously exclusive to the 360)
Hostile - Many research vessels were lost in the early days of Na Pali exploration. When the terrain or local fauna proved to be too dangerous for recovery, equipment was often abandoned and forgotten. But when it was learned that the Necris had moved in to recover this equipment for their own purposes, the NEG dispatched military salvage units to reclaim their property.
Confrontation - Confrontation Canyon serves as a training ground for Axon forces, improving unit readiness by providing highly realistic, stressful training across the full spectrum of infantry and mechanized conflict. It is the premiere facility for heavy armor training, and all forces must complete courses here before assignment to a Leviathan unit.
Cold Harbor - Axon's Stealth Research Division managed to get some of the early specs for the Necris Nightshade vehicle and have been attempting to retrofit that technology onto their own. The Necris have moved to stop this research, and despite the blockade that sealed the harbor when the NEG enforced the armistice, they have maintained a foothold here and are fervently working to destroy all remaining Axon research. (Previously exclusive to the 360)
Downtown Necris - The Necris are invading territories throughout Taryd, infecting conquered areas with Nanoblack to terraform them to suit their own needs. You must push back the Necris forces and restore order to this sector. (Previously exclusive to the 360)
So how does the new content play out? Well, largely, you'll have to decide for yourself, but I believe that the new gametypes will gain quite a bit of interest. While they don't seem to be anything major on the surface, they can drastically alter the gameplay of the maps they are played on. Additionally, Titan can be played on any map on any gametype and more than one person can be a Titan at a time. Because of this, you can hoard your Titan meters and have your whole team change at the same time in the same place. This can have a rather drastic and game changing effect in whatever gametype you are playing. In Warfare, for example, you can rip nodes and the core to shreds. The Titan and Behemoth have only the Rocket Launcher and the Shock Rifle and their movement is seriously nerfed, so picking the right time to transform is paramount to your success with this mutator enabled.
Betrayal seems gimmicky on the surface, but is actually quite fun in practice. Even with bots, the practice of knowing when to betray and how to avoid the people you betray can be quite challenging. Getting accustomed to this gametype will probably take time, as the variety of strategies you can use are quite wide. However, the fact that it is instagib is sure to put a good number of people off of it without even trying it. I say, TRY IT! It's clever and fun, and you won't regret giving it a half-hearted shot.
Greed is an interesting take on CTF, it is not played alongside CTF, but replaces the gametype altogether. The goal is to capture as many skulls as you can in the enemy's skull collector (basically their flag stand) as possible. When attaining various numbers of skulls you get additional powerups, but when you die you lose the skulls you are carrying so there is a fine balance between hoarding skulls and capturing them quickly.
Ultimately, the contents of the 2.0 patch and the Titan Pack constitute quite an enormous change in gameplay and functionality for UT3. While the content of the Titan Pack might not seem as amazing as first envisioned by many, it contains enough content and enough variety in gameplay that it should keep people interested for a while. The Steam achievements, server-side improvements, better map vote, and cooler UI will definitely make people take a second look at UT3 and hopefully keep them interested for a long time to come.