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Four Play: Arrowhead Developing Gauntlet Reboot

Atari announced Roller Coaster Tycoon 4 today. You may have seen the trailer. At best, it’s a mobile version of an older game rather than an actual sequel – at worst, it’ll behave like a crooked carnie, with all kinds of freemium delaying and money-grabbing tactics. “Pay one dollar to add glue to the coconut shy or your visitors will bankrupt you!” Only a few minutes after seeing that trailer, I received notice that Warner Bros are releasing a new Gauntlet game. I’d donned my grumpy hat before I even clicked the play button beneath the video. And then the hat combusted as I saw that it’s being developed by Magicka maestros Arrowhead. And that it looks ace.

Due this summer, Gauntlet is the first in the WB Games Vault series, which will “deliver paid games based on popular Warner Bros. and Midway brands, plus original IP, across multiple digital networks”. I’m not entirely opposed to free-to-play but cover me in feathers and call me a duckling if I wasn’t pleased as punch to see the word ‘paid’ in a press release. Yes, publishers, it is absolutely OK to be proud of delivering products in exchange for a cash payment. Please tell us when this is part of your plan – slap the fact that you will charge customers up-front for an entire game. YES.

Selecting a developer that has form making games that draw at least some inspiration from the property being remade is a good start as well. I’d struggle to pick out a top-down co-op game I’ve enjoyed more than Magicka in recent years and I reckon Arrowhead are probably genuinely excited that they have the chance to take a stab at Gauntlet. ‘Genuinely excited’ as opposed to ‘contractually obliged to state that they are excited, or allow somebody to express excitement on their behalf’.

The multiplayer aspect supports local and online play, and the four characters will have specific strengths and weaknesses. Pleasingly, the valkyrie’s weakness isn’t bra-rmour. Quite the opposite in fact.

…the Warrior does the most damage in melee combat, the Wizard has the most powerful magic, the Valkyrie has the most armor and the Elf moves the fastest. Distinctive play styles, procedural dungeons and an impressive art style keep the gameplay fresh.

Now we just need suitable developers for the rest of the Vault games. Let’s have either Nidhogg’s messhof or Towerfall’s Matt Thorson for Joust, please. Or maybe combine the two into a supergroup/protoplasmic entity.

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Adam Smith

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