The upcoming game Forge, developed by Dark Vale Games along with Supergenius and Digital Confectioners, promises to offer an AAA-quality Player vs Player (PvP) experience with an indie-game price. Stylistically and mechanically, Forge molds itself after a mixture of massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) ability and class-based shooters.
The game is currently in beta, which is accessible immediately to anyone who pre-orders the game. Most of the game modes and final features have not yet been implemented, so looking at each of the classes in-depth provides the best overview of the gameplay experience.
Shadow Leap particularly counters ranged opponents because it allows the Assassin to directly teleport behind the target and line up another attack. From there, a number of useful attacks to stun, curse, or disorient are available and if the going gets tough, players can throw up a smoke cloud to escape. The class truly excels against the Pathfinder (and sometimes the Pyromancer) when used correctly. Assassins have a high skill cap because choosing the wrong ability at the wrong time can allow an opponent to counter and escape. After mastering these skills though, a player can dominate the game easily.
The fact that a ranged class can handle multiple foes at one time is proof of how fun it can be to play as the Pathfinder. Most classes in Forge have some sort of ranged attack but none have the amount and speed of the Pathfinder. By using Bow Shot, Volley and Rain of Arrows, gamers are able to pummel multiple foes with arrows and shave off damage, particularly when being attacked at close range. The Pathfinder can also shoot a poisoned arrow that will do damage over time. By throwing caltrops or an explosive trap, the Pathfinder can also defend his back from a surprise attack (such as from the Assassin).
The most useful skill for this class is the Pin Foot because it will pin an enemy in place. If a target is moving around too much or trying to escape, this skill can be used to eliminate that annoyance and set up enemies for further attacks. The Pathfinder does have the ability to become invisible by activating camouflage. However, it might not be that great for players wanting to be in the action as the camo goes away as soon as they move or are attacked (which can happen often with area of attack skills). The Pathfinder would make for a great starting class for players who are new to Forge. Not only are his attacks simple to master but they are also effective.
The Shaman is the only dedicated healing class in Forge and, for that, he will probably be one of the most polarizing classes. While a team is certainly able to fight without a Shaman, they probably will not last too long. However, the Shaman does trade away access to dedicated attacks in return for healing utility. Thus, even though the Shaman is essential to the team, he is practically defenseless if cornered and requires allies to actually kill enemies.
Spiritual Balance is the primary skill and heals an ally a small amount or gives the Shaman increased speed when used on an enemy. There is a heal spell that gives more HP but it also costs a great deal of mana. Seed of Healing will heal the Shaman over time and is essential for those who actually want to stay alive. Blessed Aura heals allies within range and Dome of Protection protects them. Both are great skills to use in the heat of battle. Spiritual Bond is an odd skill because it can be used on an ally to share both healing and damage. Spiritual Burden is the only skill that is dedicated to disrupting an enemy but it merely slows them down and never to a degree where it might truly make a difference against stronger classes. The Shaman does hold a great deal of promise for those willing to spend time mastering his abilities (just look at a Shaman paired with a Pyromancer or Pathfinder) but he could benefit greatly from a really effective defensive move.
As one might guess from the name, the Warden provides the tank and support roles for the team. Her high defense and multiple protection abilities make her quite difficult to kill when paired with a Shaman. Her support abilities, including Raise Morale and Protect Allies, allow her to easily turn the tide of large melees.
Wardens dominate objectives on capture-the-flag style maps, providing the natural and best choice for running flags. While she does have a couple moves, like Shield Storm and Charging Leap, that allow her to close on her foes at range, enemy cooldowns and the Warden’s slower speed allow a wily opponent to escape easily if they find themselves in danger. Shield Storm’s speed and range can easily disorient the user as well. Her relatively low damage output necessitates a lot of blocking, dodging, and well-timed defensive cooldowns in order for her to kill other players one-on-one. As long as Warden players focus on complimenting their team members and controlling objectives, they should enjoy the class.
Pyromancers are easily the strongest and most versatile class in the game. This will typically show as half the players in any given game will use them. The Pyromancer has extremely high damage output, solid mobility, and excellent range and battlefield control. Fire Storm makes the affected player deal high damage to all nearby allies and Curse of Flame hits players with no nearby allies hard, making for a quite effective one-two punch if used well. Wall of Flame—as per the name—can supplement the previous abilities nicely by cutting-off or corralling enemies. Molten Bolas may be the most powerful ability as it not only launches the target a ridiculous distance, but it entraps them for a few seconds afterwards.
Naturally, the Pyromancer sacrifices defensive capability for their damage-dealing potential. Most fights with the Pyromancer end decided by who gets the first shot.
Taken together, the classes of the game are solidly balanced. With the degree of specialization present in the Warden and Shaman especially, Forge obviously intends a focus on teamwork with players choosing complementary classes. With that intention in mind, the Pathfinder and Pyromancer might be a little too self-sufficient in the game’s beta phase. Considering the game still has modes and features yet to be implemented, the high degree of balance already present is promising. Look forward to the larger maps, stat and ability customization, and guild functionality due to come.