ReCore may be one of my most anticipated Microsoft titles. Sure, I’m certain Gears of War will be great, and the Forza titles are always solid racers, but when ReCore debuted last year, it had a fresh and different look: colour and character, amidst the usual sea of grey and guns.
While it was possible to go hands on with a section of the game at the E3 show floor this year, my schedule didn’t permit me the time. Instead, I had a behind-closed door meeting with members of the development team (Keiji Inafune included) as they walked through a story oriented section, which differed from the show-floor demo.
At least, that was the idea. Instead, it was my last meeting of the day, and through some mix of the dev-unit overheating and some plain bad luck, the demo refused to boot. Instead, the developers walked me through some of the game’s combat, and explained their design decisions behind it.
ReCore isn’t a shooter. It has guns that you shoot, but it isn’t a shooter. I know that sounds a little strange, but it's true. While you do have an aiming reticule, the game takes care of most of the aiming automatically. In fact, ReCore has more in common with a character action game like Devil May Cry, than it does Gears of War.
Inafune and Mark Pacini (from Armature, another studio helping out on the project) described the combat to me as requiring timing, and not precision. That certainly seems to be the case, as the majority of it seems based around using your robo-dog buddy to take down enemies, as well as your grappling hook.
The core of the combat is simple: you shoot enemies with your gun to weaken them, and use your companion’s abilities to hurt them further. He has multiple forms which are differentiated by colour – blue for speed (dog mode), red for power (gorilla mode), and yellow (spider mode) for… cowardice? By siccing your buddy on an enemy with the corresponding colour, you’ll do double damage. Weaken them enough, and they’ll enter a staggered state – which will let you do a finisher of sorts, and pull out their core with a grappling hook.
You can maybe see how most combat arenas will break down – it’s less about brute force, and more about you controlling the space: identifying which threats are the easiest to take down, and in what order you should tackle the remainder.
Facilitating this is a combo system. By chaining together enough kills and stylishly swapping between your robot’s colours, you’ll reach new combo tiers. Each one will give you 20-percent extra damage for as long as you keep the combo going. As the fights get progressively more difficult, they’ll also start to take on the appearance of bullet-hell shooters, as you’ll be jumping and weaving around multiple projectiles.
I’m excited to see if ReCore’s combat holds up for the duration of the game. The campaign promises to be between 8-to-12 hours long, and if the variety in enemy type can keep up with the rate at which you unlock new powers, it could prove to be a very fun action game.