I had the opportunity to participate in a conference call for .hack//GU Part 1 this past week. Some new information as well as old information about the game was talked about during the conference. Much of the information presented was random.
The information I was able to get out of the conference is as follows:
• Fall release date on the PS2, developed by the same developer.
• The game takes place several years after Part 4. CC Corporation has built a new version of The World after the events from the first quadrilogy. The World is not the same – there are similar/familiar areas, but they’re not exactly the same. Someone who has played through the previous games should feel comfortable in the settings, however.
• The game goes for a much darker and grittier feeling than the previous games. It is very anime-styled with a cross between cg and cel-shaded.
• The story starts out with two people helping the main character with starting out in The World, not unlike Part 1. He gets into trouble and then gets rescued. He turns into an anti-hero sort of guy. Later on, he finds out about a legendary Player Killer, and after their first encounter, the main character’s level is dropped back down to 1. He tries to find out what is going on, only to find out that not everything has been fixed from the previous version of The World.
• While the core mechanics of the game is similar to the previous installments, the battle system is much more action oriented with combos. The higher the level you are, the more special attacks you can learn, which obviously give you a better advantage. The main character can change his weapons depending on the level he’s at, as well.
• Guilds are also introduced in the .hack//GU Part 1. Depending on how big your guild becomes, you can get a guild hall (which is like your own house), and it’ll have important items and the like for you to use.
• As opposed to the first four games, there will not be a dual audio option (meaning Japanese and English audio tracks) because there isn’t enough space on the disc. The space on the disc is filled up with all the new content they’ve added for the game.
• A class called the Multiblade can use multiple weapons. A player can learn different types of weapons as they increase their levels. They start out with the twin-blades.
• .hack//GU will be three parts instead of four. No separate DVD where there is an elaboration is going to be included, but there will be content that is separate.
• There will be some sort of memory card activity with the previous games, but it was not elaborated on in the call.
• The keyword system will make a comeback, but it will be easier to use.
• There are no online plans for the game, as the whole point of the .hack series is to simulate an MMORPG.
• All the characters in the game will be new, but they will look very familiar. What this means is that each class has its own “look” that anyone who played the previous .hack games will recognize as they played through the games.
• There will be voice-overs. The soundtrack is composed and directed by the same people as the previous four, but it won’t be as happy-go-lucky – it’ll have a much darker tone. However, the key change for this “darker” aspect is in the art.
• The game is going to be completely original, but people from previous games will still appreciate it.
• You don’t need to have played the original series to understand what is going on in the .hack//GU series. They want newcomers to feel welcomed.
• Email and OS interaction will be included, similar to the last games.
• Since the main complaint of the original games was the lack of new content, they’re going to pack .hack//GU with as much content that would be equivalent to all four of the previous games. There’s going to be a lot of new content, and it’ll take much more than 20 hours to beat each part of .hack//GU.
• Player Killing takes a part in the game, but you can’t just go into towns and kill people. You can’t go out actively and kill other players either, but you will be able to prevent others from hurting others if you chose to.
• There will be guild vs. guild matches.
• If people die in the game, it will take a negative impact on the game itself.
• The game is aiming to be a darker version of the original series, but its not going to be G rated. There will be mature themes, but it will stay within the same rating. They’re not going for a GTA-esque level, but they’re not going to be cartoons. It’ll be a middleground of sorts, aiming for the same people who bought the preious games.
• The World is more violent in general, since there is player vs. player interaction. There will be a lot more interaction with the game, battle and non-battle-wise. More character development is also an aim.
• A level-cap is still being determined. There is a class change cap.
A playable demo is still unconfirmed. There might be something at E3 this week, however. Keep watch for more information about .hack//GU at Gamersmark.com!