Perfect World Entertainment's Mark Hill previews Rusty Hearts: Reborn

Screenshot -- Rusty Hearts: Reborn
About a week ago, we got our first look at the first expansion to Perfect World Entertainment's side-scrolling hack-and-slash title, Rusty Hearts. On July 24th, Rusty Hearts: Reborn will be bringing a wealth of new content to the game, and I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Mark Hill, senior product manager of Rusty Hearts, about the new update.

What's particularly interesting about Rusty Hearts: Reborn is that many of the features coming with the expansion are a direct result of player feedback. According to Hill, the studio recognized that many players were quitting the game prematurely, sometimes as early as level 5, and as such, the expansion is focused on retooling the early- and mid-game to make it more welcoming to new players. That's not to say that there's nothing for established players, however, so if you're interested in what Rusty Hearts: Reborn is bringing to the table, head on past the cut, where I'll share all of the information gleaned from my talk with Mr. Hill.

Hill stated that the two major features of the new content are the addition of new job focuses and the implementation of a new starting area. Job focuses, for the uninitiated, are a way to customize the way your character plays by choosing to focus on a particular fighting style. For instance, Frantz can currently choose to specialize in sword or axe combat. The game will soon offer an additional job focus for each character, allowing a greater degree of customization among characters of the same archetype.

The second major addition in Rusty Hearts: Reborn is the new starting zone. Hill said that players have been asking for a change of scenery from the generally dreary gothic tone of the majority of the game, so the new starting zone takes place in a bright, colorful forest world complete with brand-new enemies, missions, NPCs, and so forth. The new starting hub-world should help to ease new players into the game while giving veterans a fresh experience if they decide to create a new character. PWE is also looking to provide players with a wider variety of characters to choose from, so the studio has decided to make Edgar, who is currently available only via cash-shop purchase, playable from the get-go.

Another feature coming in Rusty Hearts: Reborn is the new party system. According to Hill, the studio has "always wanted Rusty Hearts to be a party game," but many players had no incentive to group up because it is generally easier (and just as profitable) to play solo. In light of this, Reborn is introducing a new party incentive system to coerce players into teaming. In Reborn, when players group up, the dungeons will become more difficult, but the drop rate will be greatly increased. But the most important aspect of this new system is the party gauge. As players complete dungeons as a party, the party gauge will begin to fill. Once it's full, players can access a "hidden" area with new enemies, new bosses, and of course, loads and loads of tasty loot.

Screenshot -- Rusty Hearts: Reborn
And North American players, don't ever say that PWE didn't do anything for you because Reborn is also bringing a brand-new PvP ladder system that's exclusive to the NA version of the game. Previously, Rusty Hearts' PvP used a room-based system, which had the inherent problem of not guaranteeing fair fights. The new ladder system features automated matchmaking, which matches players up based on three criteria: latency, level, and win-loss ratio. Each week, the ladder will reset, and players will duke it out for supremacy. At the end of the week, the top players will receive prizes, such as cash-shop-only items, consumables, and so forth.

As mentioned earlier, Reborn focuses heavily on the early parts of the game in an attempt to bring new players into the fold. To help further this cause, the studio is introducing a new mentor system that allows veteran players to group up with newbies in order to help them learn the ropes. In return, both the mentor and the student will gain unspecified rewards.

Of course, players may need a bit of practice before they head into Rusty Hearts' more challenging content, so the studio will implement training dungeons. Once players hit level 10, they will gain access to a variety of training dungeons in which to hone their skills. Training dungeons grant no experience, but if you're having trouble on a particular boss or just want to practice your combos, the training dungeons are there to help.

Screenshot -- Rusty Hearts: Reborn
And finally, the expansion will be updating the game's pet system. Right now, all pets in Rusty Hearts are of the non-combat variety, but Reborn will introduce the game's first combat pets. At level 9, players will be able to undertake a quest to unlock their first pets. These pets will come in three varieties: fighter, healer, and buffer. All three pets won't be available immediately when Reborn launches, however; they'll be added in over the next month or two after the expansion's release.

While those are all of the surface-level features being added to the game, Hill stressed that the studio will be adding a number of under-the-hood modifications as well. Drop rates, experience gain, and dungeon difficulty will all be receiving a number of adjustments when Rusty Hearts: Reborn goes live. Hill also revealed an interesting way that Reborn will work to "guide" players behind-the-scenes. For instance, if the game notices that a character needs to enchant her equipment, the drop-rate on enchantment items will be increased while the likelihood of enchantment success will be increased as well.

Remember, folks, Rusty Hearts: Reborn goes live next Tuesday, July 24th, so polish your weapons and prepare yourself for some stylish beat-'em-up action. For more details, and to get in on the action for yourself, head on over to the game's official site.

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This article was originally published on Massively.