E3 2016: Battle Chasers: Nightwar Impressions

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Battle Chasers: Nightwar was definitely one of my surprise hits of E3 this year. I went in with really no idea what the game would be, nor that it was based on a comic book from the late 1990’s. However, by the end of the demo of the game, I was very excited to get to play it and even ended up awarding the game one of my two awards for game of the show.

Perhaps one of the things that interested me the most was that Nightwar’s developers decided to make the game a turn-based RPG. Once a mainstay genre with plenty of big hitters, turn-based RPGs are not nearly as common any more. It’s still a genre I love and some of my favorite franchises, like the Atelier series, are the few franchises that still exist in that space.

Nightwar doesn’t rest idly on the genre though. The developers showed me several interesting mechanics that help expand the game’s combat system into a good, tactical puzzle.

My favorite was probably what they were calling Overcharge. Overcharge is built up from certain attacks and gets added to that character’s mana points. I’ve been known to fall into that gripping paralysis of not using special attacks for fear of running out of MP when I would need it later. This system lets the player build some of that mana back up during battle.

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And since the overcharge MP goes away at the end of each battle, it actually incentivizes some use-it-or-lose-it use of a character’s more powerful attacks. Plus, some characters can interact with the overcharge in special ways. For example, one character, Garrison, had an attack that got stronger depending on how much overcharge he had, but used up all of that overcharge.

There is also a special burst gauge in battle. Unlike overcharge, this carries over between battles but is shared between all of the player’s characters. Build it up enough and it would let a character use some of the most powerful skills in the game.

The boss we were shown required some special tactics. This boss had a trick: once at half health, he would repeatedly use his own burst attack. So the tactic was to get him close to half, buff up the whole party, and then try to DPS race him. Interestingly though, there was no in-game explanation of the boss’ tactics. During the game, discovering what kind of strategies each enemy might require will be one form of exploration.

Nightwar will have six playable characters, but a party size of only three. Players can experiment with different combinations and find their own. Some combinations might offer bonuses though. The example we were given was that one party member may be able to cause bleeding while another would be able to deal extra damage to bleeding targets.

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Different playable characters also offer different dungeon skills in the game’s semi-randomized dungeons. In our demo we had a character who could find secret rooms, which wouldn’t be accessible if the player’s party didn’t include that character.

There will also be some crafting systems in the game. I didn’t get to see exactly how it will work though because, interestingly, crafting tables will only exist inside the randomized dungeons. During our demo, despite the developers setting the crafting table to a 10,000 to 1 chance of showing up, there wasn’t one there!

I was also particularly impressed with the way the game looked. The art style is strikingly beautiful and the character and monster designs look great. The attack animations in the game look awesome with the right amount of pizazz to keep things interesting during the menu-based combat.

I’m excited to see more of Battle Chasers: Nightwar. The little taste I got at E3 was impressive for an early build and the unique battle systems on top of the niche turn-based RPG foundation have me very intrigued. I’m just sad that I’ll have to wait until 2017 to get my hands on the full game.

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  • Jbumi

    I still prefer turn-based. It’s part of the reason Divinity: OSEE was my 2015 GOTY. I agree with you – can’t wait for this game!!!

  • Cyberjin

    wow! it’s really looks good! and it’s turn-based too! 😀
    no Vita version, but I guess I will get PS4 version