Killzone: Mercenary: Cash is King

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Killzone: Mercenary: Cash is King

Not long ago the US and European press got its first hands-on experiences with Killzone: Mercenary, Guerrilla Games Cambridge’s upcoming PS Vita shooter. Despite gracing Vita’s portable screen, the team behind Mercenary is hellbent on providing a full FPS experience with all the trimmings. Come September, you’ll get a full nine-mission story-driven campaign, an eight-player competitive multiplayer mode, and a collection of bonus challenge missions.

Watch our new video to get the inside story straight from Art Director Tom Jones.

Killzone: Mercenary: Cash is King

Much has already been said concerning Killzone: Mercenary’s graphical fidelity, but I’ll add my voice to the choir: This is one fine, fine-looking game. Because Mercenary runs on a modified version of the Killzone 3 rendering engine, you’ll see modern niceties such as volumetric lighting and smoke, high-res environment textures, gleaming metal and realistic-looking shadows. None of this would be out of place for a modern PS3 shooter, but portable gaming rarely sees this level of extreme graphical detail. Screenshots and internet videos only tell part of the story — just wait until you see this puppy in action on Vita’s 5’’ OLED screen.

Of course, the series’ bedrock shooting mechanics have made the leap fully intact thanks to PS Vita’s dual analog sticks. Actually, Mercenary’s refined damage model means that its weapons feel slightly more powerful, a satisfying tweak that enabled me to drop enemies a bit more quickly than in the PS3 games. Killzone 3’s savage melee attacks have also made the cut, and they benefit from PS Vita’s front touchscreen as you swipe one of several directions to gouge out eyes, break necks, and slit throats. Meanwhile, the rear touchpad takes over sprinting duties with a quick double tap.

Killzone Mercenary on PS Vita

The VAN-Guard is the most high-profile addition to Killzone’s lethal arsenal, and it adds new gameplay wrinkles to the campaign and multiplayer modes. The VAN-Guard is a wrist-mounted murder assistant that enables you to deploy a head-stabbing Mantis drone, guided Porcupine missiles, or a Sky Fury ion cannon bombardment with a tap or two on PS Vita’s front touchscreen. Because your VAN-Guard slowly recharges between uses, it doesn’t necessarily favor the most skilled players in a multiplayer match the way traditional Killstreaks can. Based on my time with multiplayer, I found it served as more of a leveling influence, keeping the rookies in the game and the most skilled players on their toes.

Money talks in Mercenary, and you’ll collect a bit every time you complete an objective, pick up an ammo clip, or slay an opponent — bonus cash for creative kills! Build up a large enough pool and you’ll be able to purchase new guns, VAN-Guard abilities, and armor mid-mission from crates left by a shady weapons dealer named Blackjack. And you’ll want every credit you can find: Based on what I experienced, Mercenary has the series’ biggest weapon loadout yet, from medium-range battle rifles and stealth SMGs, to shotguns, pistols and much more. What’s more, Mercenary’s large weapon loadout accommodates a wider variety of play styles than in past Killzone games, from stealthy sniping to close-range brawling.

Killzone Mercenary on PS Vita

Multiplayer is a definite focus for Mercenary, and Guerrilla Games Cambridge is upping the ante to keep the Killzone community playing long after the game’s September launch. The game will ship with three multiplayer modes — so far, only the venerable Team Deathmatch is confimed — and an integrated stat-tracking system will post your results to daily. There’s also a collection game built around Valor cards that you can loot from particularly tough multiplayer opponents; completing the full deck could earn you a slice of Internet fame.

Killzone: Mercenary assaults PS Vita on September 17th in North America. If you have questions on the gameplay, leave them in the comments!

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8 Author Replies

  • Brutal.

  • Looks great

    Would love to see the multiplayer get expanded modes and maybe an expanded player count in the future :p

    Any word on Southpaw support? (Sticks swapped)

  • Can’t wait for this, finally a shooter worth getting excited for on Vita.

    Seeing hows this is being made in house and not being rushed it should be something special.

    • I was truly impressed, for what it’s worth. It plays almost exactly like the other games. In fact, the slightly tweaked damage model and VAN-Guard abilities might actually make Mercenary my favorite in the series in terms of gameplay – from what I played, at least.


  • Whats the framerate? Looks pretty good

    • Pretty solid – hovering right around 30-ish, but it’s pre-alpha code so that could certainly be refined. Very playable.

  • I really hope the MP is good. But 4v4 is way to low but I hope for the best. I’d love to know why the “most powerful handheld” has a limit of 8 players is it a limitation or developer choice?

    • MP was very fun from what I played. I’m not sure why they settled on 8 players but I’ll ask next time I see them! I suspect network stability and map size, but I could be wrong.

  • This is without a doubt my most anticipated upcoming vita game! September cannot come soon enough!

  • Gonna be a great addition to the Vita library, can’t wait to pick it up. May be the first Vita title I preorder :D

  • I can’t wait for this games! I love FPS games and I live my vita. Hopefully the game is supported beyond release and sees DLC.

  • This and Uncharted might persued me to get a vita. Just hope they will go down on the price or drop a nice bunlde

  • I havent been this excited for a year in gaming since the first Killzone came out on Playstation 2. With Killzone: Mercenary and Killzone: Shadow Fall coming out this year, I can say a definitive goodbye to my social life.

    Im hoping to see a wide array of sniper rifles / battle rifles that can reach out and touch someone from far away. Hoping to see the return of the machine pistol from Killzone 3 as well. Im really interested to hear more about this “card” mechanic. Is it something similar to the deck of cards used to rank OpFor in Iraq / Afghanistan? Id like to see it or hear about it more indepth in the next trailer or screenshots.

    • Hah, Killzone explosion this fall! Yes, massively expanded selection of rifles from what I saw. I used a stealth machine pistol at one point. We’ll get more details on the Valor system soon, but it’s basically it gives you some extra incentive to hunt down the most skilled players and take their card. Complete the deck and good things happen!

  • finally

  • Framerate seems to be low, I hope its just alpha,and guys at Guerrilla Games can get stable 30 fps.

  • Looking great!

    @JonButler – Go find one of the bundles that includes a PS+ subscription. You’ll have Uncharted (and other great games) right away.

  • soundandvision77

    This looks great. I’d really like to hear more about the multiplayer though – specifically Warzone. Team Deathmatch is fun, but no other multiplayer game has gotten me hooked like Killzone 3’s Warzone did. With the changing objectives it just feels so much more substantial than running around racking up kills. Operations mode did this very effectively too.

    I hope Mercenary will have a full Warzone-like experience that gives you a little something more to work towards in a multiplayer match than just kills. It could be tough with 4 vs 4, but I’m confident you guys can create something great!

  • One of my biggest complaints for Resistance: Burning Skies was how barebones it was. I chalked it up to “launch-window-itis”. So it naturally worries me to see that this has about the same amount of features online with only 8 players and three modes. If this is the best Vita can do almost two years into its life cycle, that is worrisome. The game in general looks awesome, don’t get me wrong. We are just living in an age where, with the huge price difference between smartphone games, that are getting better and better all the time, and console/handheld games, that are sort of stagnate in quality, content has to be one of the big differentiators. Thusly, if a game like Killzone: Mercenary comes out and has less content than a six dollar iOS game (Modern Combat 4), you’re going to have many people go, “Why should I spend $40 on a game with less content than a $6 game on my iPhone?” We know that quality wise, Killzone will be much better, and you can’t deny that buttons and sticks make a world of difference in an FPS, but it’s hard not to be disconcerted with the content.

  • Sid, is there any way you can find out if 8 players is a system-level limitation for Vita online play? I find it so odd that this late in, and in 2013, we haven’t had a single online Vita game with more than 8 players. PSP, which obviously was much more archaic in network functionality, had many games that had 16 players and even 32 players online at once. I’m just curious then, if it actually some sort of limitation of the Vita that is at play here (I can’t see that being possible, but it does seem strange if you look at all the games) or something else.

  • beautiful game with a limitation of 4v4 multiplayer. thanks SONY. for ruin every vita games.

    remove that freaking 4v4 limit from the chat app.

  • So let me get this straight, we got modnation racers online multiplayer, motorstorm arctic edge online multiplayer, fat princess online multiplayer, 16, 32 online multiplayer games on the PSP and we are only getting 8 players online games on the POWERFUL psvita? Is it something wrong with me or the power is hidden on a deserted island that developers need to find first? I’m a playstation fan but you guys are dropping the ball on the vita pretty hard, you seriously need to make some drastic changes ASAP, i will give you a hint where to start “Memory cards”, want another one? More exclusive AAA titles, I can’t believe that between soul sacrifice and Killzone mercenary release date there is nothing else to look forward to.

  • What about the contract mode?

  • Personally I think 8 players is more than enough. If the maps are designed right, with the player limit in mind, it won’t feel like there’s only 8 people playing at all.
    They also said it would ship with 3 modes. The wording leads me to believe more will probably be added with updates/DLC as they have more time after launch to work on them.

    And while I think more than 8 people at the same time on vita is possible, It would be difficult to maintain good frame rate and connection speed without taking something else away from the overall experience. It’s just too much for a handheld to process.

  • Why dont you guys split the rear touchpad in two like the PS1 emulator and use one side to sprint and the other one to crouch instead of double tapping to sprint.

  • Tas_man001, I would agree, but PSP had numerous 16 and even 32 player online games with VASTLY slower hardware and WiFi. Something weird is going on and I wish I knew why we haven’t seen more than 8 players on ANY games yet.

  • Yeah… castrate them with a knife, you can’t let those bastards have any more kids to be then recruited and hunt your butt down!

  • hoje é o meu dia !!!!!!!!!!!

  • that looks really good!!! im really enjoying resistance burning skies right now, looking forward to more shooters on my vita

  • Looks great!

  • I have a feeling this will be even better than Shadow Fall.

  • This game looks fantastic. I got CoD Vita game as a gift and it left a HORRIBLE taste in my mouth. But this game looks to fix that. Can’t wait for it to release.
    Also getting a PS4 and getting me some Killzone: Shadow Fall.

  • release the TENCHU games on the store

  • Can’t wait for this game…looks fantastic just like any KZ game…I hope for a bundle.And this game didn’t even needed of a online so 8 player is already great just ignore the whiners.

    @ 24 evanicafan – Pretty funny…but quite true lol.

  • I can’t wait… September 17th can’t come soon enough. And PS4 shortly after. 2013 is gonna be insane.

  • This game looks great :)

    Do you know if we can expect a fix for patch 1.14 freezing problem on Killzone 3? Guerrilla Games forgot us :(

  • Is it just me or does the framerate look choppy , i hope it’s not as glitchy as Killzone 3

  • Pretty annoying hearing people complain about this 8 player thing, comparing PSP games to PS Vita games is just stupid in itself you ask me.

    I mean it is as simple as this, ask yourself are PS Vita games anywhere near the quality of PSP games? The answer is no, you people want console like games with great graphics and expect to lose nothing in return? Sadly with a 4GB cartridge and the type of graphics and engines they are even pushing on the system I think 8 players is more than enough.

    Those games everyone brings up for PSP had no where near the same graphical achievements that Killzone mercenary is pulling off let alone depth of play to add to that.. So you seriously expect them to be able to fit all that on 4GB card and on top of that have a huge multiplayer count?

    What doesn’t add up to me is peoples logic in that. That is almost like comparing the first Everquest to PSO 2 on the Vita, chances are that first Everquest will have more players allowed on a server but the difference in quality between those two games is vast.. So I could careless what has more players, I want to play a better game not a crappier one just to have more people.

    I am completely fine with what they have done with this on the Vita.

  • With games like this Vita may have a future. This looks great, must be a lot of fun too.

  • Sure games like MoH on PSP had more players but comparing that game to Killzone Mercenary are you serious? You weren’t running around viciously stabbing people in several different ways, you weren’t customizing your weapons, you weren’t throwing flying robots out tasering people, there wasn’t blood spattering all over the place when you shoot and stab someone…. I could go on and on about what is so different about the two games and how comparing them is completely ridiculous.


  • I guess I’ll be the only negative-ish comment here.

    Dear developer. Please stop the foolishness of having us swipe the screen for melee attacks if that is your intention. Touchscreen has been around for years and I have swiped enough things on a screen to know how it works. Its just adding more annoyance to the gameplay.

  • @vanwinkle Could you name some of those games that support up to 16 and 32 players? Chances are they didn’t require nearly the same graphical capabilities, or even require the same level of synchronization between players as a first person shooter does.

  • Co-op multiplayer (objectives and campaign), both online and ad hoc? Cross play with Killzone 3 (even if just some maps)? Ability to go prone?

  • Looks good, but I agree too, 4 person teams seems a bit on the low side.

    Would also like to know if this will change.

    Regardless, I’ll be picking this up, already pre-ordered it on Amazon.

  • WANT! Looking EPIC! Good job GG!

  • It’s great to see a AAA sci-fi shooter game like Killzone: Mercenary coming o the PS Vita!!!!!

    The PS Vita needs more high quality AAA sci-fi shooter games as well as AAA Western-developed fantasy action RPGS (similar to Skyrim or Diablo 3) in order to become a successful gaming platform.

  • I think you guys should move up or change the date to help the sale of this game, because more people will likely pick up GTA:V than this.

  • K:M certainly looks like one of the most powerful and beautiful handheld games ever.

    I love FPSs, but not on a console – gamepads simply can’t compete with a good ol’ keyboard+mouse setup. But I’m still very intrigued by this game from a technological standpoint, so may still pick it up. Hopefully there will be a demo.

  • will we get a demo for the game?

  • SOLD! :)

  • @ProfessorGerbik, @Tas_man001, I feel like the point flew right by you guys. Let me make an analogy. There were several PS2 games that had 16 and 32 players online, and these games pushed the hardware of the PS2. Now, when the PS3 came out, it had SIGNIFICANTLY better hardware. Did PS3 games had to be reduced to 8 players online to compensate for the vastly improved graphics? Of course not! Hardware improves! Yes, Killzone: Mercenary looks vastly better than CoD PSP, but guess what? It’s on newer hardware with hugely superior power! That doesn’t excuse the number of players online whatsoever. Going from PS2 to PS3, there were more games with BIGGER online player counts. But for some reason, going from PSP to Vita, there are less players supported online (thus far). That’s the point I’m making.

  • It looks awesome, hopefully the length of the campaign will be on par with KZ2 and 3 since I don’t think I’ll be playing a lot online

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