Auto Assault puts you behind the wheel of a vehicle, an immediate departure from the role of a dwarf, elf, or gnome. Set in a post-apocalyptic future, your vehicle is loaded out with all the latest weaponry. Your goal: shoot anything that moves!
Most MMOs to date have been slow paced, RPG types. Auto Assault is all about blowing crap up and doing it as quickly as possible! This game definitely has a very strong arcade feel to it. Your vehicle has two arcs displayed in front of it; one of these is your forward field of vision and the other is your turret's field. Your turret can be controlled independently of your vehicle, allowing you to drive one way and shoot another - a useful trick if you need to floor it out of an area quickly! These "Tac-Arcs", as they are called, can even be overlapped-allowing you to cause even more damage then normal!
There are three races to choose from: humans, mutants and biomeks. Each of these races has their own unique abilities and options. And, like most MMOs, Auto Assault has different classes. Hidden in the vehicle's body and firepower are classes that will be familiar to any MMO veteran, even though they are cleverly disguised. For instance, the bounty-hunter class is very similar to a stealthy thief. There is also a tank class, which most MMOs have a variation of as well. Despite the vast differences in the setting and gameplay, MMO players will be immediately comfortable with many of the systems.
The graphics in Auto Assault are looking very impressive thus far. Utilizing the now ubiquitous Havok Physics engine (a third-party system that handles all physics in a very realistic-and random-manner), the environment reacts and responds as you would expect it to. In addition, after unloading several hundred shells into a bunker or an enemy vehicle, the explosions create a very satisfying display. Even simple things such as the skyline were breathtaking - you'd think them unnecessary in a game where your focus is "the road" but nothing was ignored.
With the fast paced action, the developers at NetDevil have realized that there is simply very little opportunity to take your hands off the wheel and type some messages to your friends. Because of this, full voice chat is built into the game, allowing you to talk with your friends or fellow convey (group/fellowship) members with ease.
Each vehicle is fully customizable and different attributes, such as weight, will affect how they handle. Loot is randomly generated, giving you the chance for some extremely rare items (or some extremely rare junk! such is the way with the evil random number generators sometimes...) There also promises to be a deep crafting system, but details on this were not made available to us during our demo.
Each player is allowed multiple vehicles, allowing you to choose the perfect assault for the right mission. Thankfully, missions are promised to be plenty! NetDevil's goal is to level up while playing the game, rather then play the game to level up. You are not fully restricted to your vehicle, however, with you able to travel on foot in cities. This will allow you to socialize in a much more personal manner as well as to shop for the latest parts of kits for your vehicles before slipping back behind the wheel.
Ask any MMO player what their biggest complaint in an MMO is and often they will say the "death penalty"; the negative impact that death has to your character. Whether it's loss of experience, loss of items or some combination, it almost always results in a loss of time and a gain in frustration. When your vehicle is destroyed in Auto Assault, you are simply returned to the nearest base where you can heal and restore your vehicle and drive right back in to battle!
In addition to driving and gunning, some additional gameplay elements are going to be included. One idea that is currently implemented is to reward players for insane jumps. If you can take a driving leap off of a 300ft cliff, do a 720 and land it-more power and bonuses to you! Instanced arenas will also be included, allowing for players to participate in 1v1 combat or other scripted events. There are many possibilities which are not yet decided upon such as Capture the Flag, racing, and deathmatch. You can bet, whatever ends up being included, will be a place for drivers to earn their badges of honor.
I cannot explain how much Auto Assault impressed me. My expectations were, admittedly, very low for this title and they are now the complete opposite. This game looks like a lot of FUN! For me, this was the biggest surprise of E3 and one of the best games of the show. I can't wait to trick out my vehicle, load up the guns, get the motor running, head out on the highway and look for adventure-or whatever comes my way.