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Opinion: 'Hellraid' was E3 2014’s most underrated game, 4 reasons we're excited

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As all the post-Electronic Entertainment Expo content comes pouring in across the internet this week, we’ve noticed that one particular game is being overlooked by many. Hellraid, publisher/developer Techland’s new first-person hack-and-slash, isn’t exactly making major headlines, which is a shame because it looks truly promising.

So why is this little gem slipping everyone’s mind? Probably because of its name. Seriously, Hellraid is not at all a compelling title. Even we have to admit we weren’t exactly thrilled when we first heard about the game. Maybe Techland has a last minute change of heart and decides to rename it before it ships off to retail -- though we won't get our hopes up.

Nonetheless, we previewed a hands-off demo of Hellraid last week and it was actually quite impressive. Here are a few reasons why we think it's awesome:

Skyrim-esque combat...except better
Skyrim-esque combat...except better Techland

Skyrim-esque combat...except better

If you’re familiar with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, then you’ll immediately notice some significant similarities in gameplay between the 2011 hit and Hellraid. The swordplay looks almost identical, except the latter’s surprisingly feels more fleshed out and engaging. This is mostly due to the dodge feature, which has the player quickly maneuvering across a level, avoiding attacks while placing well-timed strikes on their enemies. Skyrim has a dodge roll, but it’s not nearly as reliable.

Another neat little feature is if both you and an enemy swing your weapons at the same time then the two instruments will clash (which is shown in the image above) and cancel the attacks. It's a small addition that really contributes to the immersion.

Other things like environmental kills are added, as well. There was a moment during the demonstration where the player kicked an enemy off a platform and followed it, jumping down from the platform and swinging their weapon to cut loose a chandelier which then fell on top of the enemy for the final blow.

 

Lots and lots of weapons
Lots and lots of weapons Techland

Lots and lots of weapons

The presentation only lasted about 20 minutes or so, but that was enough for us to witness a ton of deadly weapons, ranging from melee to magic. Techland made it clear that finding and choosing the right equipment is central to the experience, however the weapons are randomly generated so there’s also a bit of luck involved. And if players are thorough with their exploration, they might come across secret rooms housing tons of weapons and additional items that could prove useful in their journey.

Weapons were found laying or hidden all across the level we were shown, but some were also seized from fallen enemies. Certain enemies can even hold weapons containing different elemental magic. For example, the photo above shows a lighting staff, which was seen in our demo and obtained after our demonstrator killed a Lightening Skeleton.

Players could also craft weapons to create even more deadly instruments, though we haven't yet been able to see what the crafting system is like. 

European folklore-inspired enemies
European folklore-inspired enemies Techland

European folklore-inspired enemies

At one point during the demonstration we encountered a tall, goat-like creature holding a waraxe, called the Hircus, who the developer pointed out was based off European folklore. He then explained that many enemies in Hellraid are inspired by such mythology. Hopefully they're just as badass as Hircus. 

Four player co-op
Four player co-op Techland

Four player co-op

We’ll compare Hellraid to Skyrim one more time. When we first jumped into Skyrim, the biggest complaint we had with the game was that it was restricted to a single-player only experience. We spent more than 100 hours in that game and we couldn’t help but be upset that we weren’t able to enjoy it with friends. Yes, we have The Elder Scrolls Online, but that just didn't do it for us.

We actually didn't get a chance to see the game's co-op in action, and we've only gotten a glimpse of it in its E3 trailer -- which you can watch here -- but even that gets us excited now that we've seen the game and know that it plays great.

Hellraid is slated for a 2015 release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, with Early Access coming to Steam this fall. What are your thoughts on the game? Sound off down in the comments.

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