|Publisher(s)||Namco Bandai Games
ASEAN October 31, 2007
ROK February 22, 2008
|Genre(s)||Action role-playing game|
Hellgate: London is a dark fantasy themed action role-playing game originally developed by Flagship Studios, released on October 31, 2007. It was developed by a team led by former Blizzard Entertainment employees, some of whom had overseen the creation of the Diablo series.
Set in a post-apocalyptic London in the year 2038, Hellgate: London is a fast-paced action role-playing hack and slash game. It includes random elements from roguelikes such as weapon and armour attributes, item drops, mob spawns and level composition. The game featured both single-player and online multiplayer support when it was released although North American and European (US/EU) online support has since shutdown. The single-player version features a five act story quest line when completed, the player is eligible to restart the story line again in a new high difficulty and create new characters in an elite mode.
In 2008, Flagship Studios filed bankruptcy and all intellectual property was seized because as collateral for funding received from Comerica Bank. Subsequently, development of the game halted. Namco Bandai Games provided free ongoing US/EU server support in the fall of Flagship Studios until January 31, 2009, when the US/EU multiplayer game servers and websites were taken offline. HanbitSoft has since acquired properties to the game and has redeveloped it as a free-to-play Hellgate London: Resurrection in South Korea, featuring Seoul based maps. In 2014, Hellgate Global was announced to add Tokyo to the game for a possible release outside South Korea.
Hellgate: London is an action role-playing game that builds upon the core design of roguelikes by using random generation of maps, monsters, and loot to allow for replayability. The game can be played in either third person perspective or first person perspective.
Hellgate: London can be played offline or online without a fee. Players can pay a monthly fee to gain additional content over time, including new areas, weapons, monsters, classes, quests, events, titles, game modes and other content. The game consists of six acts to unify the areas a player travels through on a greater scale. All acts account for approximately 25–40 hours of single-player gameplay.
Hellgate: London was initially designed to be primarily focused on solo and cooperative PvE combat, but players can duel and there is a free-for-all PvP mode for subscribers. Dueling can only take place outside of Underground hubs. Players can also choose to enter into PvP mode, which means they can be attacked and harmed outside of Underground hubs by anyone else that has chosen to enter PvP mode. The game does not feature LAN support.
The game world of Hellgate: London is a set of demon-infested dungeons and city streets, featuring safe zones such as disused London Underground stations. The safe zones scattered across the world act as havens, where players can purchase and upgrade items at NPC merchants, interact with other players in the game world, and commence or complete quests. The journey between zones is randomly generated; levels are fully 3D, rendered with the game's own proprietary graphics engine. Included in these environments are randomly generated enemies, bosses and items. The game features historical London areas and buildings, such as St Paul's Cathedral and Big Ben.
The Hellgate: London setting has six classes to choose from. These are paired up into three main archetypes, referred to as Factions in game. Players need to choose one of these classes for their role playing character before they can start playing the game. The factions are split as follows;
- Templars, the fighter faction, are of an order of divine warriors who wish to preserve humanity and smite the Great Dark that has fallen upon the world. Their two classes are Guardians and Blademasters.
- Cabalists, the mage faction, are seekers of knowledge who want to control the fate of mankind by studying the Great Dark and using their powers. Their classes are Summoners and Evokers.
- Hunters, the ranged faction, are highly trained ex-military operatives who have been through almost every warlike scenario imaginable. Marksmen and Engineers are their classes.
Melee classes are set to a third-person view and cannot select first-person perspective, whereas ranged classes default to a first-person view but can switch to third-person if so desired. Precision aiming is not required to use most weapons; which track their targets, "lock-on", or carpet an area with explosives. The game contains sniper rifles and other weapons that require accurate manual aiming, though most are exclusive to the Hunter faction.
Players may choose the character's name, and various visual physical attributes. Depending on whether playing singleplayer or multiplayer, several different difficulty settings will be available when creating new characters. A character is permanently locked to the chosen mode. Normal mode is the default difficulty setting. Elite mode is designed to be harder than normal difficulty with several adjustments to game mechanics. Enemies are stronger, deal more damage and rare/legendary mobs are more likely to spawn. Augments are also more expensive and merchants pay less for goods. Hardcore mode is played in either Normal or Elite difficulty with the added attribute a character permanently dies and turns into a ghost when all health is lost.
Hellgate: London uses a heavily randomized item system of at least a hundred base weapon types and many armor types, with a pool of random special properties and bonuses (magical affixes) applied to them to achieve re-playability and promote item collection. Furthermore, unwanted weapons and armour can be freely disassembled to save space in one's inventory, often yielding standard or rare crafting materials that can be exchanged for special crafted weapons at an NPC vendor, or used to upgrade existing weapons or armour. Items may have slots that a player can insert "mods" in to enhance their power.
The single-player version of Hellgate: London hosts the five-act story quest line. Elite characters can be created once a character has completed the story quest line once. The story line can be repeated in Nightmare difficulty starting with mobs starting at level 30. A character's experience is capped at 50 levels while enemies in Nightmare difficulty can reach level 62
The developer Flagship Studios had proposed regular additions to Hellgate: London throughout the life of the game. In March 2008, it was announced that Comerica Bank would provide game funding assistance, using Hellgate: London as collateral, for Flagship Studios so that they would not "rely upon a publisher's investment" to support ongoing development of their games. "The Stonehenge Chronicles" update was scheduled for release on January 21, 2008 but was postponed until January 22, 2008 due to bugs. The last content patch developed by Flagship Studios was the "Abyss Chronicles". The original servers were shut down on February 1, 2009.
The company Ping0 managed the American (US) and European (EU) regional servers for Hellgate: London while Infocomm Asian Holdings managed the South-East Asia (SEA) regional server along with the game support and user forums for SEA region players. Players who purchased the game in SEA had server crashing issues; the publishing companies involved gave an official response after several requests from the community to do so. Following the shut down of Flagship Studios in August 2008 and the loss of the intellectual property rights, it was announced that Hellgate: London game servers would be shut down as of January 31, 2009. As announced at 12:00am February 1, 2009 CST the game server for the North American and European regions became inaccessible and the website for Hellgate: London also went offline.
The following is an account of the US/EU subscription model Flagship Studios had while it was in effect: There were two types of multiplayer accounts: free and subscription accounts. Subscribers had access to ongoing content updates. The US subscription plan cost $9.95 a month and an offer to pay a one-time fee of $149.99 for a lifetime subscription was available for up to 100,000 people who pre-ordered the game and ended on January 31, 2008. The UK subscription is £6.99 and EU subscription is €9.99. Additionally, subscribers would have access to a Hardcore mode, special PvP arenas and a PvP ladder, the ability to bypass server queues, a shared storage space with room for 40 items instead of 20, the ability to create guilds, the ability to achieve officer status in guilds, and 24-hour customer support. Subscribers and non-subscribers were able to interact in all ways in the game. Non-subscribers could join guilds, but not create them. The level cap is set to 50 and up to 24 character slots are available for all players. As of July 2008, all subscriptions were suspended and players could neither subscribe nor unsubscribe at that point, although they were no longer billed. Since Flagship Studios went into receivership, the US & EU multiplayer ceased.
Due to problems with the subscription service, the Halloween holiday subscription content was made available to all players, both fee-paying and free-playing. In SEA, two weeks after the game was released, many players complained about a game patch, installed by Infocomm Asia Holdings (IAH), which supposedly would have deleted player's characters since game launch. While the EU and US servers had received recent patches and additional content since launch, support and patching of the SEA server had been delayed. IAHGames, the distributor of Hellgate: London and the company providing the "Alliance" server for the SEA region, had promised patch 0 on launch day itself. However, Patch 0 was delayed with no official date of implementation. On November 14, a joint statement by the CEOs of IAHGames and Flagship Studios announced that the both Patch 0 and Patch 0.1 will be implemented on November 22 and that they are considering some compensation for the early adopters.
On November 3, 2008, Korean-based software distributor Hanbitsoft announced via its global public relations blog, that it has acquired the Hellgate: London and Mythos properties from Flagship Studios. The post mentions development of an upcoming expansion, using leftover Flagship development efforts. Updates from company state the expansion pack includes new maps featuring Seoul and a product title, The Second Invasion. On November 12, 2009, HanbitSoft announced the re-development of Hellgate: London (authorized by the former Flagship Studio) had been completed. By July 2011, Hellgate: London multiplayer servers were relaunched using a free-to-play model. Hanbitsoft's redesigned game is live in Korea, while the North American release has been only in beta testing.
In September 2014, Hellgate Global, which was announced to include the expansion Hellgate: Tokyo and the new Hell Mode difficulty level, was listed at Steam Greenlight by Hanbitsof-linked company Redbana Corporation. The project was approved by the Steam Community and Valve Corporation contacted Redbana Corporation for the possibility of hosting the game on Steam.
Positive aspects of the game commented on by reviewers include its story, and the overall look of the game. Other aspects of the game received mixed reception. For instance, some reviewers called the combat enjoyable, with varied classes, and praised the loot and customisation aspects, while other reviewers described combat as underdeveloped and monotonous, with quest repetition and locked progression choices. Similarly, the game's technology received mixed reviews. The multiplayer component was both praised and criticised, with some bugs, slowdowns and crashes mentioned.
A comic book adaptation of Hellgate: London was written by Ian Edginton, illustrated by Steve Pugh, and published by Dark Horse Comics. All four four issues were collected into a trade paperback published in June 2007 (ISBN 1-59307-681-9). The collected comic was also included in the Collector's Edition of the game. The plot focuses on a Templar, Cabalist and Hunter teaming together to rescue a book they believe will give them an advantage over the demons.
There is also a trilogy of novels based on Hellgate: London written by Mel Odom. The first novel, titled Exodus was released on June 26, 2007; the second novel, Goetia, was released on February 26, 2008; the third novel, Covenant was released on August 26, 2008. Exodus is set 18 years before events of the game, Goetia takes place 14 years before the events of the game, and Covenant takes place 13 years before the events of the game. The novels primarily follow the stories of three characters and their interactions with each other, as well as their individual struggles against the demons. Each character is from a different class from the game: Simon Cross is a Templar, Warren Schimmer becomes a Cabalist, and Leah Creasey is discovered to be a secret government agent. The novels also feature references to and cameos by various characters from the game.
- Massive Black, Liquid Development and Shanghai ArtCoding are working on the game after its original release, developing local free-to-play versions.
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