Preview: The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II
Last year, the hallowed franchises of Diablo and Torchlight saw a new competitor step out of the shadows: The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing by Neocore Games. An action-RPG with a fresh setting, a lower price and some interesting ideas became a great success. Now we are close to the launch of the second game in the Van Helsing trilogy, so let’s look at whats new in this installment.
Back From The Dead
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing was an action-rpg that put the player in the shoes of the son of the famed Van Helsing. Neocore took creepy European/Victorian settings, populated them with the fantastical creatures of vintage horror films and added a steampunk flair that just felt perfect. Van Helsing was a hunter who could learn skills in both melee/sword combat or ranged firearms skills. He was accompanied by a ghostly companion whose attacks were just as sharp as her wit, Katarina. Katarina had a versatile skill tree for ranged and melee builds along with a third build option that sacrificed her attacks for numerous buffs for Van Helsing. She could also carry items back to be sold in town and retrieve potions. Two more character classes—the Arcane Mechanic and the Thaumaturge–were later added as DLC. Despite some minor launch bugs, the game did very well and was a favorite of this particular writer, as you can read here.
The key to success for any great sequel is to take what made it’s predecessor great and expand on those qualities. Van Helsing II strives to do exactly that. One of the most lauded features of the first game was the late game tower-defense segments that saw the player strategically defending Van Helsing’s lair. Not only has Neocore promised more of those segments, but we will also get access to the lair much, much earlier in the game. Also available early on will be the ability to use all three player classes: The Hunter, the Thaumaturge and the Arcane Engineer. Of course, we can also expect Lady Katarina to return with the same witty humor as we enjoyed from the first game. Mixing some new with the old will be the vast amount of choices presented within the character skill trees.
But enough about all of the goodies that will be returning, the Beta gave us a window into some new features that we could expect.
[youtube width=”600″ height=”365″ video_id=XopY469GuzY]
Taking A Bite Out Of The Beta
As seen in the video above, Neocore took the positive tower defense feedback to the next level with their resistance management system. The beta showcased a collection of quests where Van Helsing and Katarina were aiding a group of resistance soldiers defend their home base. This multi-tiered segment gave the player a level of strategic control by allowing you to issue orders to soldiers collected at key points on the map. Inbetween the waves of attacks and strategic choices, there were also some side-quests to complete that would help lessen the strength of the next coming enemy wave. All of this amounted to a welcome change in typical action-rpg gameplay and a host of ways to approach the problems presented to the player. Oh, and if you simply want to exercise your blood letting skills and choose to not exercise your strategic muscles, you can also hand off all of the decisions to the commanding officer of the resistance and see if the game’s AI chooses wisely. As enjoyable as the beta was, seeing this new mechanic created more questions than it answered, chief among them, “How will this all play into the story elements that we are looking forward to?”.
Shrouded In Mystery
As one would expect, Neocore did not show all of its hand with The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II Beta. There are still some announced features that did not find their way into the beta. For starters, the cliffhanger ending of the first game was left mysterious; the beta did not shed any light on story elements or continuity. One of the most anticipated features for this writer is the new “pet” Van Helsing can have, the Chimera. What we know so far is that the Chimera will be rescued by Van Helsing during a portion of the game’s campaign. After that point, he can be summoned in battle, sent on quests that will provide special loot and carry it’s own skill tree and abilities.
Equally intriguing is the newly added runecrafting mechanic. Like many action-rpgs, Van Helsing had featured enchanting and forging mechanics, but Neocore is looking to add another level of depth. In short, the runecrafting will allow players to breakdown some of their unwanted items into fragments and then stack those fragments to create new runes and items. As you can imagine, the possibilities will be endless for the player to either stack multiple similar effects or create items and runes that boost multiple effects and hopefully complement their character build.
Dawn About To Break
If you couldn’t tell already, there is a lot to be excited for in the upcoming release of The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II. The first game took some interesting strides in the action-rpg genre, and this second release looks poised to continue paving new ground. Luckily, aspiring monster hunters won’t have to wait for too many more sunrises to get their hands on Van Helsing II; it releases on May 22nd, 2014 for the same low low price of $14.99. You can preorder the game directly from Neocore’s website or through Steam. Either way, sharpen your stakes and stock up on garlic; it’s going to be a long and bloody Spring!