Agents of Mayhem was first revealed a few weeks ago exclusively by IGN. The trailer showed off an over-the-top cinematic demonstrating a few of the game’s available heroes. At that time, the game just looked like an extension of the Saint’s Row franchise, an over the top open world game. This was not a bad thing, by any means; Saint’s Row is fun and very well-written. After four games in the franchise, however, I was scared that another Saint’s Row-like game would not have the same sort of oomph as its predecessors.
After playing through Agents of Mayhem, however, I came away not only satisfied with the hour that I played, but stunned at how deep the title was and how much fun I had.
Players take control of agents in MAYHEM, an organization of anti-heroes with limited structure and rules. These characters rarely follow directions and perform entirely outside of the law. With twelve agents in total, players must choose three at a time to complete any given mission; that’s where the fun begins.
Each character has different weapons and skills, with each specializing in certain battleground situations. One character might be far better fighting in close range, with a shotgun, while another character fights better from afar with a bow and arrow. It is the player’s job to choose a squad that not only fits their play style, but can adapt to any situation that may occur.
With twelve agents in the final game (the demo had four to choose from), the number of combinations to choose from is near endless.
The moment-to-moment gameplay is not only incredibly fun, but rather deep as well. Each character has their own health bar, for example, and this health bar will recharge even while another character is used. As a result, a player must tactically decide when to use which character’s health bars. If I know that I have a large close-range firefight coming up in a level, I may choose not to use my tank character, because I know I need him at full health later. Once I finally reach the firefight, my other characters will recharge on their health.
Each character also has a special ability which recharges over a set amount of time. These abilities can be swapped out for each character in order to put together a squad that players will feel the most comfortable with. Each time one of these special abilities are used, an on-screen bar begins to fill up. Once this bar is full, a player can unleash a super-powerful ability on a group of enemies.
I loved the strategy behind the game – when to use which characters, the amount of damage I would allow each to take before swapping, and when to use my special abilities.
The game even features some RPG mechanics. Each character collects EXP after defeating enemies, which allows them to level up. Upon leveling up, a player can gets a skill point to invest in a new or stronger ability, which further customizes not only the character, but ultimately the whole squad.
One of the things a developer mentioned was that Agents of Mayhem would feature a “smaller, denser world” than the Saint’s Row games. The developer said that the game would feature more height, rather than breadth, and this is surely a welcome change. Although large open-worlds are often a thrill to explore, the tight and fun gameplay within Agents of Mayhem justifies a more concentrated experience.
Agents of Mayhem was the most fun game I played at E3 week. After given a lengthy one-hour demo with the title, I just wanted to play more and more. The single-player squad-based system is not only unique, but highly intuitive. The story is humorously over-the-top, and the characters are zany in equal measure. I cannot wait to play the final version of Agents of Mayhem when it launches sometime in 2017.