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Previews

Hunted: The Demon's Forge

PREVIEW: Build your own battles in the Crucible

If there's one word that describes the co-op experience of Hunted, it's "Help!" Caddoc and E'lara are entirely co-dependant - and not because of their complementary fighting styles.

Although Caddoc is stronger up-close, and E'lara a finer bowman, they've both got access to the same skill trees and weapon types. The reason they need each other is the brutal fact that the waves of enemies are constant and overwhelming, and the checkpoints harsh.

A new feature we had a poke around with was The Crucible, Hunted's dungeon designer. It's more of a combat gauntlet than a creative Dungeon Master's toolbox, though - you can set a path through up to 25 rooms, and each room will have you facing three waves of enemies. Which enemies are up to you, from a single spider to a hundred undead Archers.

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You can also set up to four modifiers to make your task easier or harder. If you've gone for the maximum of three hundred enemies, you might want to give yourself a generous damage multiplier. Or you might be a masochist and increase your damage taken. You can even go entirely against the grain by preventing Caddoc from using melee attacks, and restricting E'lara to her light elvish sword.

The rooms are large and completely modular, so leaping from farmyard to lava pits can feel strange. Disappointingly, the Crucible doesn't let you design the actual maps: you're bolting rooms together and filling them with monsters and rules. It's essentially a set of drop-down menus with an entertaining fight at the end. If you're impatient, however, there is a random option that sets up a short, medium or long chain of rooms, depending on how much of a slog you fancy.

The Crucible is mainly a bonus feature, though - the main attraction is the unexpectedly well-written story, with Caddoc and E'lara's relationship being one of genuine warmth, and thankfully little romance.

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