[ Legacy of Kain: The Lost Worlds ]

Nosgoth Community Day

article by Ben Lincoln


In the summer of 2013, seventeen fans of Legacy of Kain (including myself) received some very unexpected but exciting news: we were invited to visit the London offices of Square-Enix Europe to be given a preview of Nosgoth, the first Legacy of Kain title attempted since Defiance which would actually be released.

As far as I'm aware, this event was without precedent in the world of videogames. Many publishers put on events related to games series which are extremely popular at the time those events take place, but when this preview was held, it had literally been a decade since a Kain title had been marketed. Square-Enix took a big chance funding such an endeavour, but as I would learn, this actually fit in well with the experimental nature of Nosgoth.

The Attendees

In addition to myself, the following fans of the series (mostly identified here by their forum/website pseudonyms) traveled to London for the Nosgoth Community Day:

Event Attendees
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Well, actually, this is really only about half of the attendees, because a number had left by the time this photo was taken, or didn't want to appear in pictures for privacy or other personal reasons.


Most of us met up at the hotel the night before the actual event, and I had such a great time meeting everyone that even if Nosgoth had been terrible, that night and the next day would have been two of the best I've ever had. With a few exceptions, I've known the people on that list for a decade or more. I think all of us had imagined somehow getting everyone together, but it seemed unlikely to ever happen until it actually did.

Nosgoth - First Impressions

Before the unveiling, I was a bit nervous about what the game would actually be like. We had been told that it was an online, multiplayer game, but not much else. It was being produced by a studio almost halfway around the planet from Crystal Dynamics. Would it be awful? Would it be Vehiculum Furtus Maximo, but for real?

My first sight on walking into the room was a nearly life-sized cardboard display version of this image, and I immediately knew I had nothing to worry about.

Nosgoth Factions
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Imagine this, but printed on a 2-meter-tall cardboard display.


How could a single piece of promotional art convince me that the team from Psyonix cared about making a good Kain game? Because this is what the world of Soul Reaver would look like if that game were remade today by people who dredged up the essential nature of that game from my subconscious and translated it into modern graphics. Not only does it perfectly capture the broad feel of the world portrayed in that game, it's full of details that reveal that the artists did their homework. Many of the details I didn't even pick up on until I collected screenshots to illustrate the ones I had noticed.

I actually picked up on the background detail before the characters:

Soul Reaver Locations
[ Razielim Territory ]
Razielim Territory
[ The Sanctuary of the Clans ]
The Sanctuary of the Clans
[ The Silenced Cathedral (1/3) ]
The Silenced Cathedral (1/3)
[ The Silenced Cathedral (2/3) ]
The Silenced Cathedral (2/3)
[ The Silenced Cathedral (3/3) ]
The Silenced Cathedral (3/3)



The architecture of the buildings is straight out of Raziel's clan territory, the Sanctuary of the Clans, and other locations in Soul Reaver. The buildings are nestled among forbidding peaks, just like every location was in that game.

The characters "felt" right to me, but it wasn't until I started looking at reference material that I understood just how much research had gone into this artwork:

Soul Reaver and Soul Reaver 2 Characters
[ Turelim vampire ]
Turelim vampire
[ Dumah ]
[ Crossbow-armed vampire hunter ]
Crossbow-armed vampire hunter
[ Flamethrower-armed vampire hunter ]
Flamethrower-armed vampire hunter
[ Vampire hunter ]
Vampire hunter
[ Handheld cannon ]
Handheld cannon



The vampire on the far left of the Nosgoth poster is part of Turel's clan. The devolved future version of the same clan in Soul Reaver has (accounting for differences in artistic direction and 14 years of improvements in computer graphics) exactly the same posture, clothing/armour, and build. Only the bat-wing ears are missing.

The vampire nearest the middle is a Dumahim. To my complete surprise, he is wearing armour based on Dumah's in Soul Reaver (with the addition of a samurai-like armoured skirt, possibly in keeping with the development codename of "ronin" for his clan), and he is even wearing gloves that mimic the pointy claws that his clan leader had in that game.

The humans of Soul Reaver, Soul Reaver 2, and Defiance armed themselves with crossbows, flamethrowers, and handheld cannons, among other weapons. Owing to their place in a ravaged, post-apocalyptic world, the dress of the humans in the far future of Soul Reaver was somewhere between "timeworn soldier" and "pirate", and here again the team working on Nosgoth have taken those designs and shown gamers how that era would look when rendered by today's artists and technology.

The only two characters without a firm basis in previous games are two that fans should be most excited to see - a flying member of Raziel's clan (who were a historical footnote in Soul Reaver and have never appeared in a game), and the Scout, a longbow sniper from the warped, chaotic Dark Eden - a region not seen since Blood Omen. His origin is almost certainly the reason he is clothed head-to-toe, including a metal facemask.

I have 100% confidence that the people making this game have done their homework. Nosgoth will not play like Soul Reaver, but I am absolutely convinced that it takes place in the same world that that game did.

Nosgoth - Hands-On

Nosgoth is a multiplayer, co-op combat game, featuring teams of up to 4 on each side, with vampires fighting against humans. Our time playing the game was divided into three rounds: each attendee would be able to play at least once as both human and vampire on a team of four, and then the eight top players would be split into two teams to face off against each other in a final round.

I was not an online gamer up until playing Nosgoth at the event, but I had a lot of fun playing this game. I will definitely be buying a headset and whatever other gadgetry is necessary to make it work.

The game is intentionally designed to feature asymmetrically-matched combat: the vampires are extremely powerful, but have only close-range attacks. The humans are weaker, but are all armed with ranged weapons. Striking the right balance between them is no doubt a significant challenge, but even in the early version of the game we played, I couldn't pick a favourite for either side because I liked playing as each of the characters.

Somehow, I managed to advance to the final round, although I was not even close to the best player (I believe that would be Ber)[2]. We only saw two maps, and none of the add-on equipment for the characters, but I would have been happy to play all afternoon.

I am definitely looking forward to the release of this game.

If you'd like to see some screenshots and video, the official site should get you taken care of.

Final Thoughts

I know a lot of fans are disappointed that they aren't getting a new single-player game (at least, not right now). I would like a single-player game too, but more than that I want to see a game that is for the 18-25-year-olds of today what Soul Reaver was for me back in 1999-2000 - something that captures their imagination and makes them want to spend more time in this particular fictional world. None of the planned-but-cancelled entries in this series (including The Dark Prophecy and Dead Sun) would have been that game. This one might be.

I will say that I'm actually glad to see this one go off and tell a story in the same world, but with none of the characters we're familiar with. I dread the "Star Wars prequel" syndrome where what should be an enormous universe full of countless potential stories ends up feeling like a small town because every story is about the same dozen characters who all know each other.

I also know that a number of fans are unhappy with some of the details of the character designs - namely that the vampires have five fingers and toes, and don't have pointy ears. I am personally willing to chalk that up to a difference in artistic direction, even if the dev team manages to come up with a story-based explanation.

The way Square-Enix are handling this is really fascinating to me. They are using what I think of as "the Minecraft model" of releasing the basic game quickly, and then expanding on it based on feedback and use by actual players. I'm genuinely curious to see how that turns out, especially with the series in such good hands.


About a week after posting the original version of this article, I noticed yet more evidence that the Nosgoth team was properly researching previous games in the series to develop the backstory for this one.

The official Nosgoth.com site includes this page on "lore", and when selecting the various classes, Soul Reaver-style symbols are used for each.

The vampires use the original clan symbols from that game, of course (see Symbols if you are unfamiliar with them).

Nosgoth class symbols
[ Clan symbols ]
Clan symbols
[ Human class symbols ]
Human class symbols
[ Hunter symbol from Nosgoth ]
Hunter symbol from Nosgoth
[ Alchemist symbol from Nosgoth ]
Alchemist symbol from Nosgoth
[ Scout symbol from Nosgoth ]
Scout symbol from Nosgoth



I immediately recognized that the Hunter/Ironguard symbol was based on the Human Citadel warpgate symbol from Soul Reaver, but I was less sure about the Alchemist symbol. That class is subtitled "The Red Sisters of Ana[r]crothe"[3], but is their symbol based in some way on that of the Pillar of States? The answer is "yes" (specifically, the Soul Reaver 2/Defiance depiction, which is markedly different than how it appears in Blood Omen). The triangle that encloses the symbol could be a reference to the alchemical symbol for fire, given what's been revealed about the weapons used by this class.

Comparison of Nosgoth symbols with their sources
[ Hunter / Human Citadel ]
Hunter / Human Citadel
[ Alchemist / Pillar of States ]
Alchemist / Pillar of States



In looking at the page source, I realized that the human class symbols were actually embedded SVG images, meaning they can be scaled to any size without losing quality, so I've added them to the Symbols page.

1. Yes, the man who revealed The Dark Prophecy and Dead Sun was invited to attend!
2. If myself, Andrew, and Divine Shadow had been allowed to hack the game, I'm sure we would have triumphed.
3. Anarcrothe's name is usually spelled with an "R" (like "anarchy"), but not always, even in official sources.
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