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Nether

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By CameronW02-05-2014
BloodyFanGirl (editor)
Nether

The Defence

Developer:
Phosfor Games
Publisher:
Phosfor Games
Genre:
Action, MMO, Role Playing
Release Date:
TBA

The Prosecution

CPU:
Intel Core 2 Quad 2.4 GHz
AMD equivalent
VGA:
Nvidia GeForce 460
AMD Radeon HD 5850
RAM:
4 GB
HDD:
3 GB
DirectX:
9.0c

Nether is a multiplayer survival-based FPS developed by Phosfor Games. You are tasked with gathering supplies and outlasting all others in an open world environment full of not only potentially hostile players, but also random patrolling AI controlled creatures. This sounds a lot like DayZ, but thankfully Nether doesn’t follow the cash-grab route of certain other games vying for the throne. Nether has been in public Early Access beta testing for about 6 months now, and it’s changed a considerable amount during this time. Is it worth picking up right now? I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

Being a beta, Nether is clearly unfinished and you’ll notice that very quickly as soon as you launch the game. It’s not strikingly amateur or anything, but there’s just a certain “placeholder” quality as far as the visual fidelity of the game is concerned with things like textures, models, and lighting. The gameplay isn’t flawless either; it’s got a weird floatiness to it and your camera moves almost like you’re in third person with a first person view model.

The main frustration I had when playing Nether is that, while you do spawn with a weapon, it’s only a melee weapon. That wouldn’t be so bad if the act of gathering the materials you need to craft a gun wasn’t a monumental task that would take multiple hours on some servers. Combine this with the fact that the melee combat, while not as crazy and broken as the DayZ standalone, is very much not balanced in your favor and you’re almost guaranteed to take at least one hit when engaging the enemies in the world.

These guys just couldn't hack it.

These guys just couldn't hack it.

You’ll find that the lack of guns makes almost every aspect of Nether a very strenuous challenge. There are probably eight or so different types of scary looking demons wandering around the city that you can explore, and while armed with a melee weapon you’re probably capable of taking on three of them. When you ‘aggro’ an enemy they teleport to you (this is a mechanic, not a bug) and you usually get one cheap shot off before you can take them out. There are larger enemies that will just murder you without much of a challenge unless you’ve got a gun, and they’re all over the place. Traveling is very difficult, and it’s very aggravating knowing that you’ve got no chance to accomplish much unless you get lucky and come across the materials to craft a gun.

Nether’s game world does the opposite of what other multiplayer survival games have been doing and goes for a full dilapidated city environment rather than open hillsides and forests. I hesitate to call a city a ‘unique’ environment, but it has enough building interiors and subway systems to keep it interesting.  

Phosfor Games also managed to accomplish something else with Nether’s game map - it looks like an actual destroyed city. In other games, zombie (or demon, in this case) infested cities look like regular cities with some broken concrete and blood randomly thrown around on the interior of the buildings, but one look at the city in Nether and it’s clearly different. Vegetation and decomposition cover almost every square inch of the game world and it would look beautiful if it wasn’t for the weird lighting as a result of the game’s beta state.

Finally! Post-apocalyptia with color!

Finally! Post-apocalyptia with color!

The enemies of Nether, aside from the other players that you’ll undoubtedly be engaging with, are the “Nethers”. These vary from small and fast, to big lumbering scary guys a ’la the Tank from Left 4 Dead. In the game’s current state, enemies are able to detect you through walls, so traveling through the city can be very difficult, especially if you get unlucky and come across one of the large enemies rather than the little guys that you can dispatch with your knife. Nethers are very hard to escape, and they can kill you very quickly.

Nether has various “safe zones” scattered across the map that ward off Nethers and restrict PvP. The safe zones are where you’ll be doing your crafting, selling your random junk items you recover from Nethers, and picking up your courier pages that you can deliver to other safe zones for a reward.

The big thing that sets Nether apart from its competitors is the increased focus on PvE content with courier package deliveries, randomly generated “Nether Invasions” that happen across the map, capturable buildings, and other little events like Nether Beacons. Nether Invasions are large surges of enemies in certain parts of the map, with increased supply rewards for killing them off. Nether Beacons are large boxes you carry with you similar to the courier packages, but they spawn a continuous stream of enemies that chase after you and restrict you from using your weapons.

Get BACK!

Get BACK!

While it barely matters as it’s only for cosmetic options, Nether has a real world currency that you can spend on emotes and new player models. You’re offered more of these based on what ‘edition’ of the game you buy on steam, with the more expensive options obviously getting you more coins. You can also buy your own coins on Nether’s website, but it doesn’t accomplish much, it just lets you set yourself apart from the other players if you feel the need.

Nether is a very basic interpretation of the multiplayer survival game when it comes down to the basic mechanics, but it’s got some uniqueness about it in the PvE content. Unfortunately, due to a problem with actually getting your hands on a weapon and the ability to make some progress and actually dig into the game I found the journey to Nether’s endgame a frustrating one. Nether has its fair share of pretty serious problems, but the framework is there for something really neat. The problem comes when you’re pre-ordering the game during a testing phase without the knowledge that Phosfor Games will actually make those changes before release. If you’re really itching for a different take on the multiplayer survival genre you could do a lot worse than Nether.

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