Rise of the Triad: QuakeCon 2012 preview

Rise of the Triad was the next illogical step in a steady stream of first-person shooters from the ’90s. Originally intended as an expansion pack for Wolfenstein 3D, the gratuitously bizarre anomaly spiralled into its very own game when the “Wolfenstein” part was cancelled. Eighteen years later, something between a remake and a reboot for Rise of the Triad was announced at QuakeCon 2012, which nobody saw coming because… well, why would they?

The blood splattering classic pushed technical boundaries back in the day; but when push came to shove, it was overshadowed by your Dooms and Duke Nukems. Nostalgia is the weapon of choice now that Rise of the Triad hopes to make a triumphant return, so it’s a good thing the Apogee Software brand has been reanimated through some kind of necromantic sorcery to publish it once again. Taking the reigns on development is Interceptor Entertainment, previously hard at work on a now-defunct remake of Duke Nukem 3D. Curious to see what all this stuff and nonsense was about, I skipped one of QuakeCon’s panels to take a journey with creative lead and Interceptor CEO/President Frederik Schreiber as he showed me around the reimagined madness.

Rise of the Triad may be running on Unreal Engine 3 instead of Wolfenstein 3D, but don’t expect all of those pompous polygons to render your fond memories irrelevant. Staying true to the original is clearly a priority, which means all of the old, goofy weapons and modes will be making a return. So will the original audio if you choose to accept it, but rerecorded sound effects and remixed music serve as a proper update. The transition into the modern era loses some of 1994’s absurdist flair, but blowing off individual body parts with a bevy of Drunk Missiles might be enough to satisfy that craving.

Some of the old weapons have been updated, such as the Heatseeker: now with 100% more camera-assisted missile guidance.

Schreiber was sure to emphasize the importance of gore in a Rise of the Triad title, but the enemy slabs of meat just waiting to be torn asunder have managed to educate themselves in self-defence since we last saw them. A familiar horde of Nazi-esque soldiers will now try to flank your position and blindfire over cover in their efforts to make your life miserable, which is a far cry from the cardboard bad guys of yesteryear. Unfortunately, I barely got to see any of these shenanigans in action.

The slice of singleplayer Interceptor was showing at QuakeCon was brief and unfinished, still running on code from the multiplayer mode. Schreiber described the campaign as a breed of competitive singleplayer that pits players against one another as they fight for the highest score. Leaderboards, achievements, and speedruns are all important pieces of the puzzle, as is your choice of the five available characters. Taking along someone speedy, for example, might save your bacon when the ceiling tries to crush you like a gib-ridden insect, but an armoured dude has obvious advantages when the world wants you dead.

Every character is a part of H.U.N.T. (High-risk United Nations Task-force), and it is their quest to eradicate the occult presence on San Nicolas Island, which is the same story from the original game. In case you missed it, this is an excuse to shoot things. More than twenty levels riddled with collectables are promised to be accessible through a Super-Mario-World-esque map that hides secret areas of its own, wherein lies the promise of singleplayer replay. Don’t get rid of your friends just yet, though; a co-op mode is in the works, which will be featured as DLC down the road.

I had a heated debate with myself on whether or not I should use a fire-related pun for this Flamewall screen.

Speaking of multiplayer, I spent a little bit of time desperately trying not to get myself murdered as good Mr. Schreiber politely let me win. The hyper-sensitive movement took some getting used to, but the weapons were appropriately insane and entertaining (my personal favourite was the everything-obliterating flamewall). Odd collision detection and other bugs popping up here and there can be excused with the scant five months Interceptor has had to plug away at Rise of the Triad, and the functional multiplayer mode is a testament to that. Whether or not you actually want to play the game, functional or otherwise, depends on your affinity for its wacky, old-fashioned shooting. There are a bunch of people who would jump at the chance, but are there enough?

Let’s hope so, because Apogee and Interceptor are absolutely banking on that very fanbase’s involvement. Schreiber wasted no time in encouraging people to go nuts with the modding tools for Steam, which is their targeted launch platform. If you merely want to mess around with maps or, as he suggested, overhaul the whole thing with Duke Nukem trappings, Interceptor is all for it. Although they want to keep Rise of the Triad as close to the original as possible right off the bat, a bevy of DLC won’t be far behind, some of it free of charge. The legacy of shareware was even taken into consideration, which is what they’ve decided to call the impending demo for old times’ sake.

Rise of the Triad is a strange relic to dig up, but the excavators seem to have more than enough enthusiasm for the job. It’s the open philosophy that caught my attention more than the work-in-progress gameplay, and if enough players contribute their own creations to the fold, this thing just might work out. Currently slated for a Steam release on the PC in early 2013, Rise of the Triad has plenty of time to grow before the masses get their hands on it; here’s hoping the chanting of Apogee’s name still works magic. 

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Written by Stephen K

A lover of video games in general, Stephen will happily play just about any sort of game on just about any sort of system, especially if it's a platformer or an RPG. Except sports games. Sports games are boring.

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