||The lead section of this article may need to be rewritten. (July 2013)|
|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 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 slasher'. 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 US/EU online support has since shutdown. Flagship Studios released one major MP content update The Stonehenge Chronicles and the second The Abyss Chronicles on the test server before the studio's closure. The single-player version features a five act story quest line when completed, the player is eligible to restart the story line again in Nightmare difficulty and create new characters in Elite mode.
In 2008, Flagship Studios filed bankruptcy and all intellectual property was seized because it was used 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 Hellgate London: Resurrection. As of June 2011, Hanbitsoft's redesigned game is currently live in Korea, and the North American release, published by subsidiary T3Fun, has undergone (closed) beta testing and open beta testing commenced on June 30, 2011 as free to play.
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. 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. 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.
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; St Paul's Cathedral was featured in an early concept art drawing. Another building that has been brought up in an interview is the Clock Tower which houses 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.
The weapons base their power on character stats more than a player's aiming skills, being more of an RPG than an FPS in this regard. For example, a player can place points in an Accuracy statistic that determines the precision of the rounds they fire. There are five types of damage. When a target takes damage, there is a chance that it will suffer a special effect (or "debuff") based on the type of damage taken. The table below summarizes these types and effects. Multiple forms of damage can be combined through mods onto a single weapon, which makes fulfilment of the minigame much more lenient and enjoyable. Each weapon has a Strength value for the special effect of each type of damage it does (e.g. Ignite Strength for Fire weapons), comparing to the corresponding Defense stat of the target (e.g. Ignite Defense) in order to calculate the chance that a target will suffer the corresponding debuff. Items, mods, skills, buffs and equipment enhancements can alter Strength and Defense stats. All weapons deliver their damage in one of three different modes: Direct (only the enemy under the crosshairs will receive the damage), Splash (the damage effect will cause damage in an area centred on the target or location the player is aiming at), and Field (an area of terrain is targeted to inflict damage on enemies who enter it). There are a number of other effects, which can cause projectiles to bounce, spawn novas of splash damage, and spawn more projectiles, which may or may not ricochet around the environment or pass through multiple enemies. These are typically the result of passive skills or special abilities of enhanced, rare and legendary weapons. They are not usually under the direct control of the player, instead relying on a random percentage chance for the effect to occur.
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. These components can be exchanged for special crafted weapons at an NPC vendor, or used to upgrade existing weapons or armour at the Nanoforge device in most safe zones. Additionally, random special properties can be added to weapons or armour at a similar device. Blueprints are available by which one can craft one's own armor, weapons and mods, given the raw materials. Lastly, elite subscriber-only items are dropped for all players; however they are only usable by subscribed players. This is part of a widely criticized in game advertising system for the subscription service. As such, the gamut for item collection and customization includes: weapon mods (ammo, batteries, and so on, which can be removed for a price and swapped), upgradeable damage or armour values at the Nanoforge (using spare parts and Nanoshards), the addition of random special properties to weapons and armour (for a price - properties can be Common, Rare or Legendary), and crafted weapons, armor and mods (using spare parts and blueprints or at an NPC "maker"). Items may have slots that a player can insert "mods" in to enhance their power. Mods can be technology that improves items, but also demonic artifacts and holy items, known as relics. Technology mods are more aimed at specific weaponry upgrades, while relics are more general in what bonuses they give, such as giving fire damage enhancements regardless of the wielded weapon; if the player adds a mod to their weapon, this change is shown in-game (if a scope is added, then the weapon will render with a scope.) Mods can be removed at special devices in the quest-area hubs.
The single-player version of Hellgate: London hosts the 5 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 last SP patch Flagship Studios released is known as version 1.2. The file is no longer officially hosted but can be found from various third parties.
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. That is, those in PvP mode, must always be ready for PvP. This is a way to have wide-ranging free-for-alls, or create a "friendly-fire" way of playing the game. In multiplayer mode, players can meet and organize for team play and quests in safe zones - the old Underground stations, protected by the Freemasons' wards. The world will not be split in "shards" or servers, but rather play like a massively multiplayer online game with heavy instancing, such as Guild Wars. Every character is capable of soloing the entire game. Grouping with other players is optional, though grouping will bring benefits in terms of experience gain and items. As the number of players within an instance increase, the difficulty of the instance increases. The game does not feature LAN support.
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 4x more likely to spawn. Augments are also more expensive and merchants pay less for goods. Elite mode is only accessible after Sydonai has been defeated in normal mode or reaching Level 20. 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 (permadeath).
In Korea, Hellgate: London is now using a free-to-play business model. The following is an account of the US/EU subscription model Flagship Studios 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 (USD) 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, see Flagship Studios. Since Flagship Studios went into receivership US & Europe multiplayer gaming ceased (January 2009).
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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.
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 Southeast Asia, 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 14 November, 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.
The Stonehenge Chronicles patch 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. Some players experienced the patch on the test center server for a number of months before it was taken offline shortly after the fall of Flagship Studios.
Intellectual property acquisition
On November 3, 2008, Blizzard software distributor Hanbitsoft Inc. announced via its global public relations blog, that it has acquired the Hellgate: London and Mythos properties from Flagship Studios. No mention of February 2009 server support was detailed. The post also mentions development of an upcoming expansion using leftover Flagship development efforts. Hanbitsoft has announced on company sites that although it is not interested in providing this content to customers outside Asia, its intent is not to lose users but the number of users is continually declining. Updates from these company sites state the expansion pack includes new maps featuring Seoul, South Korea and a product title: The Second Invasion.
Servers and regional support
Ping0 managed the American (US) and European (EU) regional servers for Hellgate: London while IAHgames managed the Southeast Asia (SEA) regional server along with the game support and user forums for SEA region players. Players who purchased the game in Southeast Asia had problems of server crashing issues, the publishing companies involved Infocomm Asian Holdings and Hanbitsoft have given an official response to the matter, after several requests from the community to do so. In August 2008, amidst 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. On November 12, 2009, Korean-based game developer HanbitSoft announced the re-development of Hellgate: London (authorized by the former Flagship Studio) had been completed.
Original game purchase allowed both Single Player or Multi-Player to participate in the entire series of 'Stations' and related quests. After Hanbitsoft took over, former players were allowed only to go to the 3rd Station (Charring Cross). Advancement past that point required more monetary transactions. Previous characters on Multi-Player were not available and no apparent Stand-a-lone option was presented for any paying player.
|PC Gamer (US)||89/100|
|PC Gamer (UK)||73%|
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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.
The game sold almost one million copies.
A comic book adaptation of Hellgate: London has also been released. Spanning a series of four issues, it is written by Ian Edginton, illustrated by Steve Pugh, and published by Dark Horse Comics. The issues are 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, called Exodus was released on June 26, 2007. The second novel, called 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 such as Jessica Sumerisle, Lyra Darius, and others. While there are notable differences Between the Novels and the game, It is noted the novels are to be more canonical in terms of the structure of the different orders and groups. Although slight differences do occur like the fact that when playing as a templar class character you begin with very little armour as compared to the book where all templar are provided with the trade mark full set armour that encompass the entire body and provide the increase strength and finesse of the warrior. Also to be noted that apart from the main Templar base all other safe zones appear to be nothing more than outpost, where in the novels specific bunkers and strongholds were used by both the hunter and templar factions. While the novels detail that the templar were a faction that fought as groups, the single player portion of the game mostly had the player on his/her own for a vast majority of the campaign. Also no vehicles mentioned in the book have made any appearances in the game, save for one giant robot that is near identical to an in game templar knight, only extremely exaggerated in size.
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The new project, entitled Hellgate: Resurrection, was slated for beta testing on November 17, with an official launch date of December 8. Monthly Subscription and Free Basic Content will be the two business models adopted in the game. Hellgate: Resurrection will be operated via new servers, offering players wholly new services. Though the game’s source code does come from Hellgate: London, many changes have actually been made in its gameplay, e.g. the cancellation of the level cap – 50, the addition of the character advancement system and the improved class balance. Hellgate: Resurrection will also have The Abyss Chronicles update that wasn't able to be in the original game. Details about the new content were not unveiled at the press conference,[clarification needed] but from the planned addition of 10 regions and 3 bosses, it will certainly be a large-scale update. Part of Hellgate: Resurrection includes the new expansion Hellgate: Tokyo with a graphic style similar to that of Hellgate: London, the new add-on is set in the future within a destroyed Tokyo, as well as Osaka and Yokohama. The add-on was slated for release on March 2010. Closed beta testing for the NA "North American" server of Hellgate: Resurrection ran from June 3, 2011 to June 5, 2011.
Open beta for Hellgate: Global[clarification needed] began on June 30, 2011.
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