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Hellgate: London is a dark fantasy themed action role-playing game developed by Flagship Studios, released on October 31, 2007. It was developed by a team headed by former Blizzard Entertainment employees, some of whom had overseen the creation of the Diablo series. In 2008 Flagship Studios filed bankruptcy and all intellectual property was seized because it was used as collateral for funding received from Comerica Bank. Subsequently, development of the game halted. Namco Bandai Games provided free ongoing US/EU server support in the fall of Flagship Studios until 31 January 2009, when the US/EU multiplayer game servers and websites were taken offline. HanbitSoft has since acquired properties to the game and it is being developed and played in Korea to date. As of 2010, Hanbitsoft has acquired the US/EU territory rights and will be re-releasing back to the US/EU territories with its sequel Hellgate London: Resurrection.
Set in a post-apocalyptic London in the year 2038, Hellgate: London is a fast paced action role playing 'hack and slasher'. The game featured both singleplayer and online multiplayer support when it was released although US/EU online support has since shutdown. Flagship Studios released 1 major MP content update The Stonehenge Chronicles and the 2nd The Abyss Chronicles on the test server before the studios closure. Similar to the Diablo series, randomization is embedded into many of the game mechanics including weapon and armor attributes, item drops, mob spawns and level composition. The singleplayer version features a 5 act story quest line and when completed, the player is eligible to restart the story line again in Nightmare difficulty and create new characters in Elite mode.
Factions and classes
The Hellgate: London setting has six classes to choose from. These are paired up into three main archetypes, or Factions as they are referred to in game. Players need to choose one of these classes for their role playing character before they can start playing the game. The factions are split as follows;
- Templars are of an order of divine warriors who wish to preserve humanity and smite the Great Dark that has fallen upon the world. Their two classes are Guardians and Blademasters.
- Cabalists are seekers of knowledge who want to control the fate of mankind by studying the Great Dark and using their powers. Their classes are Summoners and Evokers.
- Hunters are highly trained ex-military operatives who have been through almost every warlike scenario imaginable. Marksmen and Engineers are their classes.
Hellgate: London is an action role-playing game that builds upon the core design of roguelikes by using random generation of maps, monsters, and loot to allow for replayability. The game can be played in either third person perspective or first person perspective. Melee classes are set to a third-person view and cannot select first-person perspective, whereas ranged classes default to a first-person view but can switch to third-person if so desired. Precision aiming is not required to use most weapons; which track their targets, "lock-on", or carpet an area with explosives. The game contains sniper rifles and other weapons that require accurate manual aiming, though most are exclusive to the Hunter faction. Hellgate: London can be played offline or online without a fee. Players can pay a monthly fee to gain additional content over time, including new areas, weapons, monsters, classes, quests, events, titles, game modes and other content. The game consists of six acts to unify the areas a player travels through on a greater scale. All acts account for approximately 25–40 hours of single-player gameplay.
The game world of Hellgate: London is a set of demon-infested dungeons and city streets, featuring safe zones such as disused Underground stations. The safe zones scattered across the world act as havens, where players can purchase and upgrade items at NPC merchants, interact with other players in the game world, and commence or complete quests. The journey between zones is randomly generated, levels are fully 3D, rendered with the game's own proprietary graphics engine. Included in these environments are randomly generated enemies, bosses and items. The game features historical London areas and buildings, St Paul's Cathedral was featured in an early concept art drawing. Another building that has been brought up in an interview is the Clock Tower which houses Big Ben.[ ]
The singleplayer version of Hellgate: London hosts the 5 act story quest line. Elite characters can be created once a character has completed the story quest line once. The story line can be repeated in Nightmare difficulty starting with mobs starting at level 30. A characters experience is capped at 50 levels while enemies in Nightmare difficulty can reach level 62.
The last SP patch Flagship Studios released is known as version 1.2. The file is no longer officially hosted but can be found from various third parties.
NB: The servers were shut down on February 1, 2009.
Hellgate: London was designed to be primarily focused on solo and cooperative PvE combat, but players can duel and there is a free-for-all PvP Mode for subscribers. Dueling can only take place outside of Underground hubs. Players can also choose to enter into PvP mode, which means they can be attacked and harmed outside of Underground hubs by anyone else that has chosen to enter PvP mode. That is, those in PvP mode, must always be ready for PvP. This is a way to have wide-ranging free-for-alls, or create a "friendly-fire" way of playing the game. In multiplayer mode, players can meet and organize for team play and quests in safe zones - the old Underground stations, protected by the Freemasons' wards. The world will not be split in "shards" or servers, but rather play like a massively multiplayer online game with heavy instancing, such as Guild Wars. Every character is capable of soloing the entire game. Grouping with other players is optional, though grouping will bring benefits in terms of experience gain and items. As the number of players within an instance increase, the difficulty of the instance increases. The game does not feature LAN support.
Players may choose the character's name, and various visual physical attributes.
Depending on whether playing singleplayer or multiplayer, several different difficulty settings will be available when creating new characters. A character is permanently locked to the chosen mode.
Normal mode is the optimal difficulty setting.
Elite mode is designed to be greatly more difficult than normal difficulty with several adjustments to game mechanics. Enemies are stronger, deal more damage and rare/legendary mobs are 4x more likely to spawn. Augments are also more expensive and merchants pay less for goods. Elite mode is only accessible after Sydonai has been defeated in normal mode or reaching Level 20 .
Hardcore mode is played in either Normal or Elite difficulty with the added attribute a character permanently dies and turns into a ghost when all health is lost.
The weapons base their power on character stats more than a player's aiming skills, being more of an RPG than an FPS in this regard. For example, a player can place points in an Accuracy statistic that determines the precision of the rounds they fire.
There are five types of damage. When a target takes damage, there is a chance that it will suffer a special effect (or "debuff") based on the type of damage taken. The table below summarizes these types and effects:
|Physical||Stun||Prevents enemies from moving, attacking or using skills for the duration of the effect.|
|Fire||Ignite||Target takes damage equal to 5% of their maximum life every second for the duration.|
|Spectral||Phase||Phased targets deal 50% less damage and take 50% more damage.|
|Toxic||Poison||Poisoned targets take damage over time and cannot be healed until the poison wears off.|
|Electrical||Shock||Shocked targets cannot use skills for the duration of the debuff.|
Multiple forms of damage can be combined through mods onto a single weapon, which makes fulfillment of the minigame much more lenient and enjoyable.
Each weapon has a Strength value for the special effect of each type of damage it does (e.g. Ignite Strength for Fire weapons), comparing to the corresponding Defense stat of the target (e.g. Ignite Defense) in order to calculate the chance that a target will suffer the corresponding debuff. Items, mods, skills, buffs and equipment enhancements can alter Strength and Defense stats.
All weapons deliver their damage in one of three different modes:
- Direct - only the enemy under the crosshairs will receive the damage
- Splash - The damage effect will cause damage in an area centered on the target or location the player is aiming at.
- Field - An area of terrain is targeted to inflict damage on enemies who enter it.
There are a number of other effects, which can cause projectiles to bounce, spawn novas of splash damage, and spawn more projectiles, which may or may not ricochet around the environment or pass through multiple enemies. These are typically the result of passive skills or special abilities of enhanced, rare and legendary weapons. They are not usually under the direct control of the player, instead relying on a random percentage chance for the effect to occur.
Hellgate: London uses a heavily randomized item system of at least a hundred base weapon types and many armor types, with a pool of random special properties and bonuses (magical affixes) applied to them to achieve re-playability and promote item collection.
Furthermore, unwanted weapons and armor can be freely disassembled to save space in one's inventory, often yielding standard or rare crafting materials. These components can be exchanged for special crafted weapons at an NPC vendor, or used to upgrade existing weapons or armor at the Nanoforge device in most safe zones. Additionally, random special properties can be added to weapons or armor at a similar device. Blueprints are available by which one can craft one's own armor, weapons and mods, given the raw materials.
Lastly, elite subscriber-only items are dropped for all players, however they are only usable by subscribed players. This is part of a widely criticized in game advertising system for the subscription service.
As such, the gamut for item collection and customization includes:
- Weapon mods (ammo, batteries, and so on, which can be removed for a price and swapped)
- Upgradeable damage or armor values at the Nanoforge (using spare parts and Nanoshards)
- The addition of random special properties to weapons and armor (for a price - properties can be Common, Rare or Legendary)
- Crafted weapons, armor and mods (using spare parts and blueprints or at an NPC "maker")
Items may have slots that a player can insert "mods" in to enhance their power. Mods can be technology that improves items, but also demonic artifacts and holy items, known as relics. Technology mods are more aimed at specific weaponry upgrades, while relics are more general in what bonuses they give, such as giving fire damage enhancements regardless of the wielded weapon; if the player adds a mod to their weapon, this change is shown in-game (if a scope is added, then the weapon will render with a scope.) Mods can be removed at special devices in the quest-area hubs. Example types of mods are listed below:
|Ammo||Modify the amount, type, range, or accuracy of weapons. Magazines can be magical or technological in nature.|
|Batteries||Battery packs charge weapons with different types of damage, such as spectral, shock, fire, poison, or physical.|
|Fuels||Confer different damage types onto weapons.|
|Relics||Often considered holy, relics may be part of a greater item or an item previously owned by someone of great ability.|
|Rockets||Like ammo magazines rockets change the type of ammo a weapon uses while adding an explosive element, often making it more powerful.|
|Techs||Often used in ranged weaponry to increase accuracy and damage multipliers.|
There were two types of multiplayer accounts: free and subscription accounts. Subscribers had access to ongoing content updates.
The US subscription plan cost $9.95 (USD) a month and an offer to pay a one-time fee of $149.99 for a lifetime subscription was available for up to 100,000 people who pre-ordered the game and ended on January 31, 2008. The UK subscription is £6.99 and EU subscription is €9.99.
Additionally, subscribers would have access to a Hardcore mode, special PvP arenas and a PvP ladder, the ability to bypass server queues, a shared storage space with room for 40 items instead of 20, the ability to create guilds, the ability to achieve officer status in guilds, and 24-hour customer support. Subscribers and non-subscribers will be able to interact in all ways in the game. Non-subscribers can join guilds, but not create them. The level cap is set to 50 and up to 24 character slots are available for all players.
As of July 2008, all subscriptions were suspended and players could neither subscribe nor unsubscribe at that point, although they were no longer billed, see Flagship Studios. Since Flagship Studios went into receivership US & Europe multiplayer gaming ceased (January 2009).
|PC Gamer (US)||89/100|
|PC Gamer (UK)||73%|
Other aspects of the game received mixed reception. For instance, some reviewers called the combat enjoyable, with varied classes, and praised the loot and customisation aspects, while other reviewers described combat as underdeveloped and monotonous, with quest repetition and locked progression choices.
- October 31, 2007 - Hellgate: London is released in the USA on Halloween.
- January 21, 2008 - The first major content update 'The Stonehenge Chronicles' was scheduled for release but postponed.
- January 22, 2008 - The first major content update 'The Stonehenge Chronicles' was released (MP patch 1.0).
- January 24, 2008 - Flagship Studios recruits players for their team advocate program.
- January 27, 2008 - MP patch 1.1 released mostly addressing patch 1.0 issues.
- February 10, 2008 - In an IRC chat conference with Hellgate London developers, it was revealed that promised subscriber holiday event development would be halted.
- February 17, 2008 - The client function /who was disabled. It returned the present number of players online.
- February 20, 2008 - HanbitSoft announces Hellgate: Londons next update major content update 'The Abyss Chronicles'.
- March 17, 2008 - MP patch 1.2 released. Contains new boss 'Dessicator', functional pets and dye kits.
- March 26, 2008 - It was announced that Comerica Bank would provide game funding assistance, using Hellgate: London as collateral, for Flagship Studios so that they would not "rely upon a publisher's investment" to support ongoing development of their games.
- April 4, 2008 - SP patch 1.2 released.
- February 1, 2009 - US/EU online play and support halted.
The Stonehenge Chronicles
The Stonehenge Chronicles patch was scheduled for release on January 21, 2008 but was postponed until January 22, 2008 due to bugs.[ ]
The Abyss Chronicles
The last content patch developed by Flagship Studios was the Abyss Chronicles. Some players experienced the patch on the test center server for a number of months before it was taken offline shortly after the fall of Flagship Studios.[ ]
Due to problems with the subscription service, the Halloween holiday subscription content was made available to all players, both fee-paying and free-playing. In Southeast Asia, two weeks after the game was released, many players complained about a game patch, installed by Infocomm Asia Holdings (IAH), which supposedly would have deleted player's characters since game launch. While the EU and US servers had received recent patches and additional content since launch, support and patching of the SEA server had been delayed. IAHGames, the distributor of Hellgate: London and the company providing the "Alliance" server for the SEA region, had promised patch 0 on launch day itself. However, Patch 0 was delayed with no official date of implementation. On 14 November, a joint statement by the CEOs of IAHGames and Flagship Studios announced that the both Patch 0 and Patch 0.1 will be implemented on November 22 and that they are considering some compensation for the early adopters.
Intellectual property acquisition
On November 3, 2008, Blizzard software distributor Hanbitsoft Inc. announced via its global public relations blog, that it has acquired the Hellgate: London and Mythos properties from Flagship Studios. No mention of February 2009 server support was detailed. The post also mentions development of an upcoming expansion using leftover Flagship development efforts. Hanbitsoft has announced on company sites that although it is not interested in providing this content to customers outside Asia, its intent is not to lose users but the number of users is continually declining.[ Updates from these company sites state the expansion pack includes new maps featuring ]Seoul, South Korea and a product title: The Second Invasion.
Servers and regional support
Ping0 managed the American (US) and European (EU) regional servers for Hellgate: London while IAHgames managed the Southeast Asia (SEA) regional server along with the game support and user forums for SEA region players.
Southeast Asia server
Players who purchased the game in Southeast Asia had problems of server crashing issues, the publishing companies involved Infocomm Asian Holdings and Hanbitsoft have given an official response to the matter, after several requests from the community to do so.
Server shutdown and future development
In August 2008, amidst the shut down of Flagship Studios in August 2008, and the loss of the intellectual property rights, it was announced that Hellgate: London game servers would be shut down as of January 31, 2009. In the interview, Bill Roper admitted that even he thought the game would be a major failure [. ]
As announced at 12:00am February 1, 2009 CST the game server for the North American and European regions became inaccessible and the website for Hellgate: London also went offline.
On November 12, 2009, Korean-based game developer HanbitSoft announced the re-development of Hellgate: London (authorized by the former Flagship Studio) had been completed. The new project, entitled Hellgate: Resurrection, was slated for beta testing on November 17, with an official launch date of December 8. Monthly Subscription and Free Basic Content will be the two business models adopted in the game.
Hellgate: Resurrection will be operated via new servers, offering players wholly new services. Though the game’s source code does come from Hellgate: London, many changes have actually been made in its gameplay, e.g. the cancellation of the level cap – 50, the addition of the character advancement system and the improved class balance.
Hellgate: Resurrection will also have The Abyss Chronicles update that wasn't able to be in the original game. Details about the new content were not unveiled at the press conference, but from the planned addition of 10 regions and 3 bosses, it will certainly be a large-scale update.
Part of Hellgate: Resurrection includes the new expansion Hellgate: Tokyo. Said to have a graphic style similar to that of Hellgate: London, the new add-on is set in the future within a destroyed Tokyo, as well as Osaka and Yokohama. The add-on was slated for release on March 2010.
HanbitSoft has revealed that it has plans for a new server located in North America.
A comic book adaptation of Hellgate: London has also been released. Spanning a series of four issues, it is written by Ian Edginton, illustrated by Steve Pugh, and published by Dark Horse Comics. The issues are collected into a trade paperback published in June 2007 (ISBN 1-59307-681-9). The collected comic was also included in the Collector's Edition of the game. The plot focuses on a Templar, Cabalist and Hunter teaming together to rescue a book they believe will give them an advantage over the demons.
There is also a trilogy of novels based on Hellgate: London written by Mel Odom. The first novel, called Exodus was released on June 26, 2007. The second novel, called Goetia was released on February 26, 2008. The third novel, Covenant was released on August 26, 2008.
Exodus is set 18 years before events of the game, Goetia takes place 14 years before the events of the game, and Covenant takes place 13 years before the events of the game. The novels primarily follow the stories of three characters and their interactions with each other, as well as their individual struggles against the demons. Each character is from a different class from the game: Simon Cross is a Templar, Warren Schimmer becomes a Cabalist, and Leah Creasey is discovered to be a secret government agent. The novels also feature references to and cameos by various characters from the game such as Jessica Sumerisle, Lyra Darius, and others.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Market for Home Computing and Video Games (2007-08-06). "EA and Namco Bandai Games Announce November 2nd Release Date for Hellgate: London". Press release. http://www.mcvuk.com/press-releases/30881/EA-AND-NAMCO-BANDAI-GAMES-ANNOUNCE-NOVEMBER-2nd-RELEASE-DATE-FOR-HELLGATE-LONDON. Retrieved 2007-10-17.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 South East Asia release date confirmed (2007-08-23). Retrieved on 2007-11-14.
- ↑ Play Forum (2008-02-21). "［리뷰］ 헬게이트 : 런던 , 그래픽 카드 챠트 (오픈베타)" (in Korean). Press release. http://www.playforum.net/hardware/column.comm?action=read&iid=10411001&kid=1335. Retrieved 2008-08-08.
- ↑ Hellgate London system requirements. Retrieved on 2007-11-14.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 GameSpy Staff (2008-10-24). "Namco to Close Hellgate: London (PC)". GameSpy. http://pc.gamespy.com/pc/hellgate-london/923551p1.html. Retrieved 2008-10-26.
- ↑ Eric Caoili (2008-11-03). HanbitSoft Planning Hellgate Relaunch. www.gamasutra.com. Retrieved on 2008-11-06.
- ↑ Schiesel, Seth (2007-10-27). A Game Seeks Success Through Random Rewards. The New York Times. Retrieved on 2007-11-14.
- ↑ Subscriber Chart
- ↑ UPDATE: Local Area Network a No-no - Ivan-Flagship posting on HellgateGuru.
- ↑ Subscribers And Patch 0 | Hellgate London
- ↑ New Payment Methods Available | Hellgate London
- ↑ Bishop, Stuart (2007-08-27). GC: £6.99 a month for Hellgate online. Computer and Video Games. Retrieved on 2008-01-26.
- ↑ Subscription Detials | Hellgate London
- ↑ Remo, Chris (2007-05-08). Hellgate: London Subscription Details Released. Shacknews. Retrieved on 2007-05-27.
- ↑ Patch 0.5 - New Update Coming
- ↑ Sol Invictus (2008-07-15). Flagship Studios Still in Operations. Retrieved on 2008-07-17.
- ↑ Chick, Tom (2007-11-14). Hellgate: London (PC). 1UP.com. Retrieved on 2008-08-03.
- ↑ 18.0 18.1 18.2 Martin, Joe (2007-11-02). Hellgate: London. Bit-tech. Retrieved on 2008-01-26.
- ↑ Fahey, Rob (2007-11-02). Hellgate: London Review. Eurogamer. Retrieved on 2008-01-26.
- ↑ Wong, Steven (2007-11-02). Hellgate: London Review (PC). GameDaily. Retrieved on 2008-01-26.
- ↑ Gerstmann, Jeff (2007-11-09). Hellgate: London for PC Review. GameSpot. Retrieved on 2008-01-26.
- ↑ 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 Rausch, Allen (2007-11-02). Hellgate: London (PC). GameSpy. Retrieved on 2008-01-26.
- ↑ 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 Butts, Steve (2007-11-05). Hellgate: London Review. IGN. Retrieved on 2008-01-26.
- ↑ Hellgate: London (pc: 2007): Reviews. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2008-07-03.
- ↑ Hellgate: London Reviews. GameRankings. Retrieved on 2008-07-03.
- ↑ Hellgate: London Review. NZGamer.com. Retrieved on 2008-07-03.
- ↑ Lewis, Cameron (2007-05-11). Review: Hellgate: London for PC. GamePro. Retrieved on 2008-07-03.
- ↑ Remo, Chris (2007-10-29). Flagship's Roper on Hellgate: London's Future. Shacknews. Retrieved on 2007-10-30.
- ↑ Hellgate: London Gets Financial Aid. Voodoo Extreme (2008-03-26). Retrieved on 2008-03-31.
- ↑ Happy Halloween! | Hellgate London
- ↑ 31.0 31.1 Lee, Oo Gin (2007-11-15). It's hell for gamers with Hellgate bug fix. digital.asiaone.com. Retrieved on 2007-11-22.
- ↑ Game News: Upcoming patch
- ↑ [IAH News] Good News from our developers – No Wipe
- ↑ Hanbitsoft, Inc.. Retrieved on 2008-11-06.
- ↑ Eric Caoili (2008-11-03). HanbitSoft Planning Hellgate Relaunch. www.gamasutra.com. Retrieved on 2008-11-06.
- ↑ 안내 헬게이트: 런던 두번째 침공. Retrieved on 2009-01-01.
- ↑ Hellgate: London servers problems
- ↑ Green, Jeff (2008-08-18). Bill Roper spoke out at last. 1UP.com. Retrieved on 2008-10-26.
- ↑ Hellgate: Resurrection and Hellgate: Tokyo Announced (2009-11-13). Retrieved on 2009-11-21.
- ↑ HanbitSoft resuscitates Hellgate: London in North America and Europe. gamerlimit.com (2010-01-18). Retrieved on 2010-05-30.
- ↑ Hellgate: London TPB. Retrieved on 2007-05-10.
- ↑ Page for Hellgate: London: Exodus at the publishers website
- ↑ Page for Hellgate: London: Goetia at the publishers website
- ↑ Page for Hellgate: London: Covenant at the publishers website
- ↑ Hellgate London: Exodus. , Hellgate: London: Goetia.