When you think Bethesda, you think sprawling role-playing games, open worlds full of quests, and monsters, and orchestral scores. You do not think of fast-paced RPG shooters.
Yeah, RPG shooters. That blend elements of singleplayer FPS games, multiplayer deathmatchers and more than a few roleplaying customs as well. If that sounds confusing to read, don't worry, it is. It's such a unique cocktail of styles and influences that, having seen the game demoed earlier today, I'm having a little trouble getting my head around it myself.
But if you think Team Fortress 2, Mirror's Edge and Fallout 3, you'll be getting there.
Basically, Brink - from developers Splash Damage - is an FPS. With a few changes to the normal routine. Like Mirror's Edge, there's an element of parkour to proceedings, with fast runs and climbs able to be strung together. Interestingly, the devs have added an "autopilot" function to movement: point the cursor at a point on the map, hold down a button and you'll perform the necessary moves (jumps, slides, etc) to get there. And if there's danger in the way - like a camera - the player will smartly vault over or slide under it.
Gameplay is largely an objective-based multiplayer shooter. You and your teammates start at one end of a map and have to fight your way to the other end, satisfying a number of objectives along the way like clearing barricades, repairing technology, etc.
Only you can play this alone. Because you have AI teammates, and the game is objective-based, you can play the whole thing as a singleplayer title, working your way through a series of missions set amidst the last outpost of human civilisation following a global catastrophe.
But then, you can also play it with friends. Again, because of the nature of the level progression, real players can jump in and take the place of not only AI teammates, but AI opponents as well. And it doesn't change a thing, as the demo we saw seamlessly alternated between singleplayer sequences and moments involving several human teammates.
And all the while you're doing this, there are RPG elements at play. At the start of the game, you're able to create a custom character, which you then level up with every enemy you kill and every objective you complete (trickier objectives earning you more XP). New XP is able to be cashed in for new outfits, as well as mid-game "class" changes.
Like many online shooters (for example Team Fortress 2), players are able to select a "class" for their character. Soldier, engineer, heavy, etc. But you can cash in some XP to change class mid-game, should you want to switch things up, and doing so presents you with an all-new toolset, and all-new objectives tailored towards your new class.
Throw in the fact the game is already looking gorgeous, and it all sounds like an innovative take on a genre these guys already specialise in (Splash Damage having got famous off the amazing Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory). Certainly one of the fresher titles I've seen at the show so far.