If push came to shove and I had to pick only one series to get an HD makeover (or, even better, a full-on reboot), it would be The Legacy of Kain. I’ve adored the vampire tales of Kain, Raziel, and the gnarled Soul Reaver sword since Kain’s fateful transformation into a fanged anti-hero.

When Square Enix first announced the free-to-play, humans-vs-vampire action game Nosgoth, I turned up my nose at it. That’s why I made a point of scheduling time to see it at PAX today.

If you’re as much a Legacy of Kain fan as I am, you should know that Nosgoth is not intended to be canon. It’s a what-if tale based on the core principles of the mythology, and with that understanding, the set-up works.

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Each game includes two rounds, so players can take on the role of vampire or human. The two sides play very differently, with vampires able to climb walls and brutalize victims at close range. Humans rely on ranged weapons like crossbows and pistols.

There are currently four classes of each (with multiple skill and loadout options), ranging from accessible to advanced. The asymmetric nature of the game requires players to excel as both races. Playing as vampires allows you to pounce on victims from afar or take flight, lift humans in the air, and drop them.

But the humans can use their own tricks like poison bolas that incapacitate vampires, or sticky grenades that leave bloodstains in their wake. Sticking together as the humans can make it very hard for vampires to get a leg up unless they coordinate well.

Both games I played saw a lot of back and forth, and I had quite a bit of fun. I quickly forgot about the setting (except for clever nods placed in the maps) and enjoyed Nosgoth as a well-paced multiplayer experience.

Developer Psyonix says the game will be heading into open beta later this year. They’ll be adding more maps and classes, but doesn’t want the game to become a champion-filled MOBA. Rather, the studio is attempting to find a sweet spot, similar to Team Fortress 2, and then offer more options within those classes. It’s a thoughtful approach in a time that otherwise gleefully welcomes a proliferation of playable characters.

Nosgoth isn’t the Legacy of Kain game I want. But after playing it today, I realize that it doesn’t need to be. It’s a work-in-progress for sure, but its one that is on track to stand on its own feet.

the author Mike Futter