Freedom Wars outwardly looks like a near and dear family member of the Japanese monster hunting clan. Grand pappy Monster Hunter set the trend on PSP, and descendants like PS Vita's Soul Sacrifice and Toukiden have carried it forward with aplomb. Those games tend to sing based on their multiplayer joys, though. The solo experience is ancillary to teaming up with friends to fell towering freaks in local and online sessions in those games. Freedom Wars, meanwhile, is a heavily single-player affair as explained by Sony at E3.
They're keeping it under wraps, though. Nick Accordino, producer on Freedom Wars, confirmed that the PS Vita exclusive is still planned for 2014 in the US but it's not guaranteed. When it arrives it'll let you play through a long, bizarre story on your own in addition to teaming up with others. Unlike in a game like Monster Hunter or even Vita-mate Soul Sacrifice, the two are separate. Four-player cooperative sessions and eight-player versus matches will let you collect goods to earn your custom character new weapons and gear-or years off your million year prison sentence-but these missions are wholly separate.
It was weird then that the demo on the show floor was one of the four-player cooperative missions. Four characters with basic gear, both a short sword and a machine gun for each, set out on a quick mission to rescue civilians that have been captured by hulking creatures that look like they're made of bones and Sunny D. Richard, Mitchell, myself, and the producer were able to bring down the monsters quickly and escort the civilians to an extraction point, taking advantage of Wars' peculiar grappling hook whip that lets you attach to walls and enemies.
While we did get a sense of the game's pace, swifter than Monster Hunter but still deliberate with enemies knocking you down forcing a recovery period, we walked away with no idea how that core single-player campaign will feel nor how it feels to evolve a personalized character. Freedom Wars, even playable and on its way west this year, remains a mystery in the monster hunting pantheon of handheld RPGs.
[Images: Sony Computer Entertainment]