Hybrid Playtest: When Limits Give Rise To Creativity

By Kris . August 15, 2012 . 1:10pm

Hybrid’s movement is simultaneously restrictive and freeing. It’s played on symmetric maps with three players to a team, and your movement is entirely centered around cover. You’re either behind cover, or jetpacking from one piece of cover to the other by highlighting a chest-high wall and pressing A. Additionally, you can strafe in any direction while flying. You’ve got a few extra tools at your disposal, like the ability to return to your previous cover with B, slow down your flight by aiming your gun with LT, or accelerate your flight by clicking the left analog stick, but all in all, movement is simple and limited.

 

At first, I wasn’t willing to be risky. I tried to play the game like a more traditional cover shooter where I would jetpack to cover in front of an enemy I’d seen and shoot at them when they popped out of cover to jetpack away or fire at me. This led to me dying repeatedly, because my enemies would notice my position and find a way to get behind me before I uselessly hopped between two equally dangerous sides of my cover before dying. At first I figured that new artillery would solve my problems.

 

After a few futile, flailing matches, I leveled up to the point that I was allowed to unlock some new weapons and skills. At the beginning of each match, you customize your loadout with a weapon, a secondary skill (mapped to right bumper, but more on that later), and a passive ability. While you can change your loadout between lives, I found a few setups that I really liked and stuck with them for the most part. When I’d outfitted myself with a sub-machinegun, the ability to
allow my teammates to see the enemy team through walls, and a passive defense boost, I thought I was ready to take some people out.

 

But I wasn’t. Although my new firepower improved my odds a bit, I was still stuck in my old ways. However, my secondary ability inspired me to get a bit more aggressive.

 

I’d jetpack to the opposite side of my opponent’s cover and then blindfire over the top of the barrier to kill them. This more aggressive tack started netting me more kills, and in Hybrid, more kills allows you to summon handy robots. You’ve got Sentinels, who stay by your side and shoot enemies you’re close to, Warbringers, who are a bit more independent, and the Preyon, a screeching ninja-like android that will instantly kill a single enemy before vanishing. As I started killing more enemies (and their robots, who don’t add to your point count, but will allow you to summon robots more quickly), I was able to build up an army of robots.

 

My entourage of machines in turn made me feel gutsier as I racked up kills. I’d activate my secondary ability to locate my enemies, boost towards the cover they were standing behind (accompanied by my Sentinels), then tap Y mid-boost to align myself next to my two foes. Given that you’re not usually on the same side of cover as your enemies, my bold move caused my opponents to pause just long enough for me to blow them away before they even thought to fire on me.

 

As I got bolder, I expanded beyond just my tricky rushdown. I started constantly moving, trying to match my movement with that of my teammates. When an opponent approached me, I’d use B to start returning to my previous cover and we’d have a midair firefight. While Hybrid locks its players to cover, I would only really turtle when I had to recover health. Cover wasn’t just my shield, but my weapon. I used my opponents’ use of cover against them, using their cowardice to flank them or quickly approach. The more creative and mobile I got, the more I was rewarded with kills, and in turn extra experience and weapon unlocks that allowed me to fine-tune my loadout.

 

While the game felt somewhat restrictive at first, I found myself growing bolder with each battle, expanding my play-style and ultimately having much more fun than I did when I cowered behind cover. I was forced to learn the game’s language, but doing so allowed me freedom (and a small army of robots).

 

Food for Thought:

While I’m not a fan of micro-transactions, Hybrid’s are pretty balanced. When you hit a certain level, you can unlock any weapon of a certain type (i.e. shotgun, heavy pistol, assault rifle). While people who pay might be able to unlock weapons faster, they aren’t really capable of unbalancing the game.


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