Third time’s the charm, right? Well, in this case, the third Van Helsing game will conclude the story once and for all, tie up some lose ends, and finally give your companion, snarky spirit sidekick Katarina, the backstory she deserves. If you’re unfamiliar with the series, it’s all about Van Helsing and Katarina travelling the country of Borgovia on their quest to smite evil and deliver amusing one-liners. The first game had you fighting a mad scientist, while Van Helsing II put you right in the middle of a civil war. Now, with the battle over and the land in ruins, one of your objectives will be to restore balance to the natural order of things. But, as these things usually go, that will probably be the least of your worries.
Once again, you’ll have to fight your way through hordes of enemies in typical action RPG fashion. You still have 3 classes to choose from, each one coming with a huge skill tree and two different specialization branches. Your starting level will be 60, and you can either import a character from the second game, begin with a new one from level 60, or completely start fresh from the first level. While there have been lots of changes to the gameplay and character development between the first and second game, Neocore’s philosophy this time around seems to be “don’t fix what isn’t broken”. This means that players will essentially get more of the same, with only some slight balancing changes.
There will also be tons of end-game scenarios, just like in the previous release. Another rather intriguing feature is the Neverending Story mode, where monsters still level up after you reached the level cap. That certainly doesn’t sound like a balanced way to play the game, but if you enjoy a steep challenge it will probably make you very happy. Multiplayer co-op and a PVP arena also return. A rather interesting fact is that in the previous games, basically all post-launch content was added because of community requests. So even if Van Helsing III concludes the story, there might be a lot of fun to be had long after you saved Borgovia.
The short playable demo I got my hands on at Gamescom didn’t really offer many surprises, but in my book that’s a good thing. I’m certainly looking forward to the release in the first half of 2015. If you’re interested in the series, then I can recommend the current Humble Bundle, which has the first game and all of its DLC in one handy package for very little money.