We’re always being promised that the next big FPS will be totally different, and to be fair, continually being disappointed. But Brink, by British developer Splash Damage, genuinely looks set to explore a different take on the genre. Brink’s futuristic setting is the Ark, an artificial floating city at sea in the grip of a civil war and last refuge of humanity in a world flooded by global warming. Fairly standard sounding stuff, but Splash Damage’s vision for Brink is similar in principle, if not in execution, to that of Bethesda Soft’s stable-mate Fallout 3; to create a more engaging take on the traditional FPS. “The main goal we set for ourselves when we started development was to make a really deep shooter that’s at the same time incredibly accessible, so we could hook more players and keep them playing longer,” Paul Wedgewood, CEO at Splash Damage told NowGamer.
Brink’s campaign features up to eight players on a squad on or offline, and in a hybrid of the role-playing and FPS genres you take on different classes, similar to games like Team Fortress 2. Each mission earns your character experience points used to purchase new skills and abilities, as they rank up in combat. But what promises to elevate Brink above standard team games is a system of ‘contextual goals’. The game, working off the class system, generates objectives for your squad on the fly. Objectives are worth different XP, with a radial menu system to choose which to tackle. Battles in Brink, promises Wedgewood, are incredibly dynamic and the complete opposite of the scripted norm. That goes, he claims, hand in hand with more intuitive controls, via a SMART (Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain) button, which dynamically evaluates where you’re trying to get to and makes it happen. Say, for example, you need to vault over a wall to fire on enemies – you’ll only need worry about the fun shooting rather than any jumping mechanics. “This has worked out really well,” claims Wedgewood, “and as a result we’ve got a shooter that just feels different than anything else out there.” Everything in the game, right down to its unusual graphical style, is designed to accentuate that feeling. “The goal with Brink’s art style was that every asset – each environment, player model, weapon, and indeed every frame of the game, would be absolutely unique and distinctive,” explains Wedgewood, touting Brink’s in-depth character customisation possibilities it has.
With all of these disparate elements coming together, you might worry that the combat at the heart of Brink could suffer – but veteran PC-shooter developer Wedgewood is quick to reassure us: “Probably the thing we’re most proud of is how solidly Brink performs as a shooter,“ he says. “Whatever else we’re trying to achieve in terms of redefining the Single/Multiplayer and Online/Offline modes, or introducing people to team gameplay, Brink first and last has to deliver as a fun shooter, and right now every weapon is fun to shoot and the game feels really immersive and solid.” For the first time in ages that promise of something new is really there.