Hands-On Impressions: ‘Agents of Mayhem’ Shows Off Volition’s Distinct Style At E3 2016

Sitting down in front of Volition’s new IP, Agents of Mayhem, this past week at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), instantly the ideas of old school cartoons and comics began to flood my mind. And that’s exactly what the Saints Row-developer wanted. Agents of Mayhem stars a rag-tag group of anti-heroes as they try and stop the supervillian organization L.E.G.I.O.N. (the League of Evil Gentlemen Intent on Obliterating Nations). And while M.A.Y.H.E.M. (the Multinational Agency for Hunting Evil Masterminds) might technically be the good guys here, Volition is quick to point out their goal isn’t to save people, but simply to stop LEGION at any cost.

Part of the Saints Row universe, Agents of Mayhem has a lot of design elements which can be traced back to the multi-million selling franchise. The familiar over-the-top third-person gameplay is here, with Volition’s penchant for fun, funny, and over-the-top present. Set in Seoul, South Korea, the technological capital of the world in the Saints Row universe, LEGION is attempting to establish a presence in the city. MAYHEM is sent in to stop the villainous organization by any means necessary.

Agents of Mayhem E3 2016 Fortune overlooking Seoul, the setting of Agents of Mayhem. [Image via Deep Silver/Volition]While the game will have twelve total Agents to choose from, the demo at E3 2016 only showcased four: the gun-toting, would-be actor, Hollywood; the dual-pistol-wielding, drone-using Fortune; the Shotgun- and Harpoon-tossing Hardtack, and the bow-wielding Rama. The characters themselves are pretty diverse, and the distinct visual style really gives each character a unique look and feel. I especially was impressed by how the light reacted to the cloak Rama wore, as it really looked like you’d expect a high quality bolt of silk would.

Agents of Mayhem is all about how you use that diverse cast of characters together, though. You’ll enter the field with a squad of three agents, which you can swap between interchangeably. In fact, finding the right squad composition and learning out to use their synergies is an important part of the gameplay. You may not want to run into a room full of enemies using only Rama’s long range, slow-firing bow. But you could pick a few off at a distance and when they close in, quickly switch to Hardtack and use the short-range burst of his shotgun to devastating effect. Say you’re in a room full of enemies with Fortune. Her drone can be used to sent waves of electricity throughout the gaggle of LEGION minions, stunning them, allowing you to clean them up with Hollywood’s rifle or Hardtack’s shotgun.

Yes, Agents of Mayhem’s E3 2016 demo was basically a Volition-written romantic comedy. And it works.

Movement throughout the world is incredibly fluid. Each character moves distinctively, none of them feel like a carbon-copy of each other. Fortune, for instance, can double jump and dash mid-air, giving her a bit more mobility than, say, Hollywood. Rama can use an arrow in the side of a building to climb even higher than her squadmates, giving the sniper a commanding view of the area. The personality of the characters also come through in how they interact with the enemy, and their own MAYHEM headquarters. Hollywood is your stereotypical, self-absorbed dude-bro, while Rama is more reserved and polite.

Agents of Mayhem E3 2016 Hollywood Hollywood’s Mayhem ability is basically an action movie set. [Image via Deep Silver/Volition]Each character in Agents of Mayhem have their own special abilities, aptly named “Mayhem” abilities, which can cause considerable damage on the battlefield. Fortune’s drone strike as mentioned above is an example. Hollywood has probably the most satisfying Mayhem ability that I used during my demo. The camera closes in on his face as he smiles and dons a pair of Johnny Cage-esque sunglasses. All of a sudden, movie-style pyrotechnics start to go off all around him, doing damage to anyone unfortunate enough to be nearby.

Agents of Mayhem was one of the more stylized and interesting games I played at E3 2016 last week. From its incredible art style to its diverse cast of characters, Agents of Mayhem is a game to keep on your radar leading up to its 2017 launch. As of now, no actual window has been announced in 2017, but the game will release on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 next year.

[Images via Deep Silver/Volition]