Killzone 3's multiplayer is loaded with features new to the series, including five career paths, three times as many character levels to unlock and dynamic cut-scenes that highlight the top player's in-game efforts.
The game, due out in February, also fully supports both playing in 3D and using the PlayStation Move motion controller.
The key goals for multiplayer in the upcoming PlayStation 3 shooter was to create an experience that is accessible to everyone, makes playing with friends a breeze and provides a "colossal immersive experience," said Martin Connor, lead multiplayer designer with developer Guerrilla.
With that in mind the developers scoured through the comments and recommendations provided by fans of Killzone 2's multiplayer and came up with a short list of things to add and adjust.
Among the things tweaked was the matchmaking system, which was completely overhauled to dump players into games much faster, adding a new dynamic spawning system to keep you closer to friends and the in-game action and streamlining how easy it is to get to multiplayer from the menu.
The team also revamped the rewards system bumping up the number of ranks a player can achieve in online play from the 15 found in Killzone 2 to 45, and adding more than 100 medals and a new round-based ribbon system.
Bigger changes include adding two new multiplayer modes (deathmatch-like Guerrilla Warfare and story-driven Operations), and amping up the type and number of close-quarter combat kills.
Killzone 3 multiplayer will have five different career paths, each with six weapon and six ability choices, and individual leveling, meaning you have to rank up in each career to unlock weapons and new skills. The careers are medic, marksman, infiltrator, tactician and engineer.
Killzone 3's multiplayer also has robotic exoskeletons and jetpacks.
Connor said that in designing the game's multiplayer levels, the team made sure to add plenty of new environments including war-torn settings, frozen tundras and areas irradiated by a nuclear blast.
After talking us through the game's multiplayer elements, Connor set up a match of Operations on the demo room's Playstation 3s.
Operations plays a bit like competitive single-player campaign missions. The matches open with a high production cinematic cut-scene. The goals are linear, having one set of players defend the objectives while the other side attacks.
In the match we played, our Helghast were trying to stop the ISA from taking out our installation.
Shortly after dropping into the first match I asked Connor about Killzone 3's still-noticeable float, a barely perceptible drift in the movement of the gun while aiming and firing.
After Killzone 2 was released the developer came under fire over the issue, with some players complaining about the design decision.
Connor said that some of the issue with that control delay was technical, but that the team figured out the issue shortly after the release of Killzone 2. They left a bit of the float in the game for Killzone 3, he said, to bring across a sense of weight and realism to the game.
It took a few rounds to adjust, but once I did it wasn't that noticeable.
I tried my hand at each of the character classes, testing out abilities like being able to block radar in an area around me, spotting and marking areas for attack by fellow players, building sentry guns and sentry robots, and moving faster. One of the more interesting abilities, I found, was the medic's mini-drone, a hovering bot that provides the medical class with cover fire and can even heal him at times.
I also played around with some of the new, brutal melee moves: snapping one player's neck and slitting the throat of another. Connor said the game currently has about eight of these, including kicking a player to death, stabbing a player in the throat, stabbing them in the eye, gouging out their eyes with your thumbs and a silent kill from behind. He said the team may add or remove some of those moves by the time the game is released.
As we played our way through the Operations match, our Helghast continued to lose ground to the invading ISA, pushing us through objectives and triggering new cut scenes that unlocked more objectives.
When the round ended with our loss, the game floated back into a cut-scene, but this time the scene starred the key player on the other team who finished off that last objective. This ability for the game to spotlight whoever performs the best in the match is a new addition to the game that Connor thinks will add a lot to the matches.
It was pretty neat to see the cutscene unfold with the named player performing the level's coup de grace.