Infinity Blade 3 Preview

Over 40 million gamers have played one of Chair Entertainment's Infinity Blade games on an Apple device. That number is sure to grow come September 18 when Infinity Blade 3 is unleashed exclusively on iOS for $6.99. The new game vastly opens up the fantasy/sci-fi world, while retaining the tried-and-true gameplay that resulted in sales of over 11 million games and over $60 million in revenue since 2010 for Epic Games. It doubles the fun with two playable protagonists - Siris and Isa.

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"New IP is really hard to find, making promotion much more important in the mobile space," said Michael Pachter, video game analyst, Wedbush Securities. "Sequels have a huge advantage, as they can target existing customers to all but ensure a spot on the bestseller lists. Infinity Blade 3 will start out on top of that list."

According to Donald Mustard, creative director at Chair Entertainment, the studio's goal heading into this third game was to create the ultimate Infinity Blade experience. Infinity Blade 3 provides a universe that's over eight times larger than that of the first game, thanks to eight huge castles spread throughout the world map. In addition, there's a huge allotment of side quests, new multiplayer Clash Mobs and different events that players can participate in that make the world even bigger.

"For the first time ever, Infinity Blade is a much more open, nonlinear experience and that's all because of your home base, which is called the hideout," said Donald Mustard. "Siris and Isa are on the run from the Deathless and trying to bring together their ragtag group of comrades to stop the Worker of Secrets. Now players have this cool hub that you can return to after each quest. As you go out into the world and fight enemies, you can return to resupply and interact with some of the different characters that you'll recruit to your team along the way."

Players can recruit four comrades, each of which will offer important customizable upgrades like the merchant, the blacksmith, the craftsman and the potion master. Players can cook spells from ingredients they collect, buy items from around the world and even upgrade weapons in new ways. Once a player has mastered an item and all its experience points (XP), they unlock its skill point. The blacksmith can reforge that weapon from a level one sword to a level two sword. Players can then remaster that weapon and unlock new abilities. All items in the game can be upgraded to level 10 at launch.

Each of the two playable characters feature three unique combat styles and their own set of over 135 unique weapons and items. Each of the six fighting styles has specialized weapons, moves, combos and capabilities to be mastered, adding a lot of depth for a mobile game.

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Infinity Blade 3 is also the latest technology demonstration of Epic's Unreal Engine 3. The new game was optimized for Apple's latest hardware refresh, but any Apple gamer will notice the upgrades to everything, from the on-screen characters to the lush and varied environments. Geremy Mustard, technical director at Chair Entertainment, said the small team of 20 developers took a look at every system that was used in Infinity Blade 2 and found ways to improve on what they thought was a pretty near-perfect game.

One area that has been completely revamped is the multiplayer experience. There are now three options for players to engage with. Clash Mobs remains intact, allowing the entire world of gamers to come together (on their own) and battle against a giant enemy within a finite amount of time. Trials pits a barrage of enemies against the player and ranks them with bronze, silver or gold medals. The game will notify friends when a player has beaten their score, to keep the competition going via leaderboard challenges. Aegis Tournaments add a competitive aspect to the same types of events, where players compete against each other to make it into the top 50 percent of that round in order to move on. Chair will offer prizes to players as they climb the ladder of these tournaments.

Chair will also introduce dozens of new enemies and bosses for players to battle. The Mustards promise that these new foes, each featuring unique abilities and exciting attacks, provide greater gameplay variation than ever before.

"We'll have a few returning favorite characters from the previous games and we've created a whole slew of new enemies for people to fight against," said Geremy Mustard. "One of the new things we've added is dynamic fighting. You can be in the middle of a battle with a guy with a staph and if it breaks, he'll come at you with a different fighting style using both halves on you. Enemies will also pick up weapons in the environment and use them against you, especially the larger enemies that can rip a column out and use it as a weapon."

The Infinity Blade franchise has improved not only visually with each new installment, but also with its story (thanks in large part to the work of New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson) and gameplay depth. The third game lets players explore as they wish and delve into the story and side quests and multiplayer elements along the way.

On that note, expect plenty more Infinity Blade 3 coverage in the weeks ahead.