Shoot The Rich: Hedone Preview

Caldwell has been abroad in London town to bring us the first look at MMOFPS Hedone. Here’s what he made of those initial impressions.

I really wanted this to be stellar, so that I could run “Hedone Good” as part of the headline. “Hedone Maybe OK I Don’t Know” just isn’t as eye-grabbing. Hedone is an upcoming free-to-play first-person shooter from German developer Acony. It sprung up from the ashes of a cancelled game called Parabellum which apparently ran into “issues”, as games often do. It’s got shooting in, as you can see from the pictures below. It’s also online, which means Social stuff. Let me explain.

Hedone is set in the very near future, where a social media guru named John Lazar becomes stinking rich and decides to invest in cloning – much to the amusement of his company’s board members. The UN declares these “synth” bodies as non-human and therefore without rights. The obvious thing to do here is to pit the clones against one another in televised fights to the death, as every good social media baron knows. It’s Unreal Tournament meets The Social Network. It’s bloodsport meets reality TV. It’s Britain’s Got Innards.

But comparisons to Unreal would give you the wrong idea of how it seems to handle. Hedone is a very modern-looking shooter. Herein also lies the concern. For all its fun fifteen-minutes-into-the-future story, once you see it in action, its influences lie heavy on its shoulders. The customisation menu is Brink (but without multiple classes of character), the sliding manoeuvre is pure Bulletstorm (but without the brutal kick at the end) and the XP system is very Call of Duty (but a little more confusing).

For this last one the concept of Killstreaks is replaced with “Skills” and instead of earning these by collecting kills without dying, you have to earn something called “Heat.” This is where it gets a little convoluted.

“Heat” basically measures how many arousals you’ve given the audience of this perverse battlesport. It’s earned in a couple of ways. Firstly, vanilla murder gets you Heat (gets you hot?) Secondly, dancing over the body of your fallen victim using one of the game’s “Taunts” gets you hot. Thirdly, unusual kills get you hot. For example, murdering that punk-rock chick, taking her MP5 and then murdering her again with her own weapon? That gets you hot. Once you’ve built up enough Heat and earned that Skill, it remains available for the rest of the match but has a cooldown period to avoid getting overused. You can only choose four Skills in the loadout, so I imagine there’ll be a balancing act to perform. Two of the Skills we saw on show where Akimbo submachine guns and a minigun. There was the promise of a “berserker” Skill, which makes the player grow claws and dash around in a rage, slashing people up and ting. But apart from that it does seems a little disappointing that the word “Skill” has so far simply replaced the word “Weapon.”

The Game Director, Mario Rizzo, doesn’t seem too fazed by the similarities with Call of Duty. His enthusiasm, for the story at least, is commendable. “We think that people would genuinely sign up to this show. Right now millions of people already sign up to go on Big Brother and other reality shows. “Essentially, we think that people would sell their souls to get onto this show.” Given the continuing nightmare plunge of television nowadays, I’m inclined to agree with him. People would sign up to this show. Whether people will sign up to Hedone in such numbers, though, isn’t clear yet.

The backstory is definitely quirky but unless there are more ways of tying this into the game’s competitiveness, aside from simply taunting someone every time you get a kill, I’m afraid it looks like Hedone is travelling on very well-worn ground, on the back of a well-worn mule, called Wellworn. Wellworn the Mule. But it’s early days yet and Acony still have the closed beta to get through, in which to tweak things. Maybe by then, the mule will be able to surprise us by, I don’t know, kicking me in the stomach. Yeah. A metaphor like that.


  1. studenteternal says:

    the COD killstreak thing, and this heat implementation of it, has allways seemed backwards to me. Why do you need to reward a player doing well? Isn’t dominating the map enough of a reward? It was for me back in the UT/UT200x days. Wouldn’t it make more sense to give the one shot advantage to the player losing to give them a chance to catch their breath and get back into the game?

    • Ringwraith says:

      But you wouldn’t be rewarding success, you’d be rewarding failure, and you can’t have that, when one has the best score what they need is the game to acknowledge this and give them stuff to keep their position away from everyone else.

    • sonofsanta says:

      Then you have Mario Kart: The FPS and everyone whinges about how it’s entirely chance based and not skill based. As, indeed, the Wii version of MK was.

      It could be balanced, but I think it’d turn a lot of people off.

    • Jockie says:

      Fairly sure CoD has deathstreak bonuses to give a helping hand if you’re losing horribly, which is along those lines. But outright rewarding people for playing badly? Can’t see that happening, especially in a team-game, where it could be used as a strategy

    • Gnoupi says:

      In the UT/UT200x days, you were rewarded vocally for your performances, and it was enough for the ego :P (same in action). (Games need more announcers anyway).

      I agree that I don’t like the idea of giving a gameplay advantage to someone doing well. I had this issue in Plain Sight, or CSS: the more you kill, the better are your skills or weapons. Which is fine and all, but it also means that for the “less good than the best” player, it’s harder and harder to come back.

      I prefer the game modes like a rocket arena: everyone starts with all the weapons, and you are free to use what you prefer. Intagib modes work too. As you respawn, you have close to equal chances to kill the person who killed you.
      Being less good than the best on a map is already easily annoying and/or frustrating. No need to increase the gap.

    • Salt says:

      Homefront’s multiplayer in the “Commander” game modes does something quite interesting:

      If when you get a kill streak, members of the opposite team are given your approximate location on the map and recieve bonus points for killing you. I think you also gain some bonus yourself, although not nearly as powerful as CoD’s killstreak rewards. The higher your kill count, the more people are alerted to you as a “priority target”. Feels rewarding to be considered dangerous to the opposing team, and functions as a gentle negative feedback loop.

      There’s also a whole separate system for purchasing vehicles and special equipment with points you get for kills.

    • wengart says:

      I don’t play much CoD, but I watch my friend play quite a bit and he only plays team-based modes. In that setup getting a kill streak doesn’t translate directly into you dominating other players more, at least not in the classical UT deathmatch sense. Instead they give your team an edge be it through the spy planes radar bonus or the ability to drop indirect fire onto enemy positions or enemy movement routes.

    • Perjoss says:

      isn’t there a mod for counterstrike where everyone starts with the ‘best’ guns and as you get more kills you are forced to switch to inferior firearms. I guess being the best person on the server means you run around with an awful weapon but if you still manage to get kills like this, well i cant think of a better way showing off in a cool way.

    • Nalano says:

      I miss UT2k4. Last MPFPS I played where people cared more about fun than ladders, global stats and “unlocking shit.”

    • shoptroll says:

      It’s funny that you mention Unreal, because the Adrenaline system in UT2 was basically a positive feedback loop that rewarded the better players and punished the people lower on the scoreboard. They tuned it down in 2004 so you didn’t get nearly as much adrenaline for killing people, but I vaguely recall Epic acknowledging it still wasn’t a great design decision.

    • Baines says:

      Modern Warfare 2 had Death Streaks, and players hated them almost as much as they hated Last Stand/Second Chance (which was the “I’m not dead yet” perk). People complained that it wasn’t fair that they might get killed by an exploding corpse just because they’d killed a guy four times in a row. That’s just not sporting or a fair reward of skill, unlike chaining a grenade launcher group kill into a Predator Missile group kill into a chopper/bomber group kill into a third kill streak group kill or nuke.

      To be fair, the cry was mostly against Painkiller and Final Stand. Final Stand because it was a more powerful version of Last Stand (where instead of dying at the end, you fully recovered). Painkiller because it was a really bad idea in a competitive game. Painkiller made you a bullet sponge for the first 10 seconds or so of your next life. In theory, this was to give a bad player a chance to at least get a kill. In practice, it made encounters for everyone a form of Russian Roulette, as you didn’t know if a target had Painkiller until you were already shooting them. Strangely, I don’t think Painkiller even served its purpose of giving poorly performing players more of a chance. A good player could avoid your fire long enough to take you down and a knife was still a one-hit kill. Perhaps the most frustrating result all around being a third party runs up and shoots both of you. And even if you get a kill or two from Painkiller during a match, you probably also lost kills due to running into other players who had Painkiller.

      Personally, I prefer the Homefront system. If you are going to give actual rewards for better play, then have a trade-off. The trick is to make a trade-off that doesn’t feel like a penalty. (Some CoD streaks have a degree of trade-off, but only a few and it doesn’t really seem related to the potential returns.) Mind, the other part of the Homefront system is to give insanely powerful rewards.

    • Gnoupi says:

      @shoptroll – indeed, I forgot that one.
      Though it was a bit different because you were earning adrenaline also from the (countless) pills spread on the map, so running away and hiding could work too, I guess.

  2. CaspianRoach says:

    Wait a second, ‘match’? So this isn’t a MMO, just a usual FPS with multiplayer?

  3. dan. says:

    Hedone is a terrible name.

    I have no other opinion at this point in time.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      My first thought on seeing it was “apply directly to the forehead.”

  4. Kollega says:

    “Hedone is set in the very near future, where a social media guru named John Lazar becomes stinking rich and decides to invest in cloning – much to the amusement of his company’s board members.” Oh, okay. “The UN declares these “synth” bodies as non-human and therefore without rights”…
    …wait, what? I assume that if it’s basic cloning, said clones are more or less indistinguishable from humans. Because, you know, there are already some clones of natural origin running around. They’re called “identical twins”. And if that’s the same thing, only artificial, then why the hell would UN, of all organizations, declare them not to have any rights? Now, if they used conciousness uploads or something to that effect, i’d understand philosophical discourse in regards to that – but still wouldn’t go as far as declaring them to have no rights. That just seems dumb. Not to mention that the whole “televised blood sport” thing isn’t “quirky” by now. It’s a beaten cliche.

    As for Parabellum… i recall of hearing about that. It was supposed to be a “Counter-Strike killer”, back when CS and not MW was still the pseudo-realistic shooter of choice. No wonder it flopped. To be honest, i don’t think this game is going to be much good either. Dosen’t look too great at this point.

    P.S. I second the notion that gaming needs more announcers. Preferably as MANLY as the one in Unreal Tournament.

    • studenteternal says:

      I agree with pretty much everything you said, still I wish them luck I guess, it would be nice for the cynical bastards to be wrong for a change :)

  5. CptSqweky says:

    What? No comparison at all to The Ship or Bloody Good Time? Because that’s the first thing I thought of.

  6. qrter says:

    His enthusiasm, for the story at least, is commendable. “We think that people would genuinely sign up to this show. Right now millions of people already sign up to go on Big Brother and other reality shows. “Essentially, we think that people would sell their souls to get onto this show.” Given the continuing nightmare plunge of television nowadays, I’m inclined to agree with him. People would sign up to this show.

    No. This is pure bullshit.