During my time at E3 2016, I was invited to sit down and experience Volition’s latest title in the form of Agents of Mayhem. For those wondering what exactly Agents of Mayhem is, its an open-world title that doesn’t focus on a single character, but a squad of characters in which you can switch between them at the press of a button while in-game. Before the gameplay started, I had an option of three agents to select from. These agents are part of a select core of agents called Multinational Agency for Hunting Evil Masterminds (MAYHEM)
The game takes place in South Korea and in typical Volition style, has similarities with the Saints Row universe (colourful and vibrant), but with a futuristic twist on the formula to distinguish it from being too similar to the universe it shares with the Saints Row series. Its art style looked gorgeous with its modern, colourful comic book style art and although it was an early look (and ultimately a small slice of what will be a huge game), I didn’t come across any problems with glitches or poor frame rates during my time with the demo. Some have compared the game to Crackdown and while it has similarities with that series, I personally feel that both are totally different in their execution.
The main objective within the demo was to rescue a pop star (her name escapes me) that has been captured by a group of villains that in true Volition style, quite possibly have the best name for a group of bad guys, ever. They’re called the ‘League of Evil Gentlemen Intent on Obliterating Masterminds’ or LEGION for short. While I could go down each section of the story section we played and reveal what happened, I would rather stay as spoiler-free as possible just in case some of you don’t wish to know the ins and outs of what happened within the story section I played.
Each character within the demo I played (that we could use) offered something different to the next. For example, Hardtrack was a character that was slower, but used a powerful shotgun, while someone like Fortune offered speed and dual pistol as the weapons of choice. What I liked is that each character felt totally different from the next and it offered a nice refreshing change to switch to a different character and in turn, to try a different strategy in terms of their play style.
Shooting within Agents of Mayhem felt responsive and movement felt fluid from my time with the demo. Gameplay revolved around taking enemies out and building up your special ability meter which could then be used as a more powerful attack. Just like the characters weapon choices being different depending on who you choose, it was the same for the special abilities as well. Although you could in theory build up your special ability meter quite frequently, a cool-down meter occurs once you have used your special ability so you couldn’t use it straight after you’ve just used one. While a cool-down was in process, I found that by switching characters, it was a good strategy to use to try out the other members of your squads special attacks while waiting for the cool-down process to end. Also within the game was the ability to use triangle to scan the area and to tag enemies in the process. Whether or not some sort of map will be included come the games release is a mystery, but for what its worth, the scanning worked very well.
One thing I didn’t expect from the combat side of things within Agents of Mayhem was the RPG style style damage meter that popped up when shooting certain parts of an enemies body, but it worked well as it helped me focus on the weaker parts of the body when I needed to. I like this element of the combat as its a felt refreshing to have something with a little bit of a RPG style twist rather than Volition going down the same route as so many other games do and just having to shoot an enemy (whatever part of the body) until its lifeless body is slumped on the ground. It felt rewarding to know that by taking out enemies with headshots was more down to my aiming and strategic positioning rather than luck.
Moving away from the core gameplay side of things, Agents of Mayhem also had other RPG elements in the form of each characters customisation slots that were available. One slot was for a weapon modification, one was for an item and finally, the last slot was for an ability. To build up your abilities was pretty straightforward enough with either killing enemies or completing various missions. Once you’ve done enough of these standard objectives, you then use an upgrade point to apply to a character. This offered depth to what was already looking like a game with a lot of content even though I only see a tiny piece of the game.
The main thing I took away from my time with Agents of Mayhem was just how much fun it was to play. While I’ve never been a huge Saints Row fan, Agents of Mayhem was fun by the bucket load and a game that somehow made me interested more in the Saints Row titles. You can see that the development team have taken big inspirations from the Saints Row series (due to its setting and its crazy, over-the-top gameplay) but with Agents of Mayhem they offer a more refined and subtle gameplay experience with a fantastic comic book art style. Agents of Mayhem is a game ill be paying a close eye of towards its release as even at this early stage and with only a very small chunk of the open world experienced in this game so far, it was a demo that I didn’t want to end.