Each side has four different classes. There's the Medic, the Engineer, the Soldier and the Operative. The Medic doles out health and revives downed teammates, the Operative can disguise himself as a person on the enemy team, the Soldier can replenish his teammates' ammo, while the Engineer is tasked with maintaining the hardware. Every in-game action nets you experience points, which can then be used to purchase specific abilities (things like damage buffs, extra ammunition, etc.) and customize weapon loadouts -- quests are accessed through an in-game radial menu, which allows players to choose from a set of ongoing objectives on the fly.
I jumped into an ongoing skirmish and immediately felt at home. The shooting very much mirrors that of Call of Duty -- intense, twitch-based running and gunning. The gunning itself is self-explanatory, but the running itself was handled through the use of the game's SMART system, a one-button approach to navigation. It allows players to vault over guardrails, grab edges to hoist up onto higher platforms and perform other parkour movements within the environment. It's a simple approach that essentially tries to read your mind depending on the obstacle you're trying to overcome and, for the most part, works flawlessly -- especially when in the midst of frenetic combat.
As for the radial menu, it offers you several different tasks to tackle depending on your play style. This provides players with the opportunity to play the game in the way they want to play it -- if somebody's more a lone wolf type, they can select a quest more in-line with that or, if you're a team player like me, do something more objective-based like planting a bomb at a key power supply point and guarding it.
Everything in the game, from shooting guys to completing tasks, yields experience points. While this doesn't sound like anything new, Brink mixes things up by making your character persistent across both single player and multiplayer. So if you're playing through the single player mode and your friend calls you into an online match, you're constantly earning experience points and building up your character, carrying it all over from one side to the other.
And the actual building part is handled through a streamlined menu system that not only allows you to customize the look of your in-game character, but also gives you access to a variety of weapon-specific buffs. Need more stability with your assault rifle? Add a foregrip. Want to be a sneakier close combat type? Add a silencer to your shotgun. Want to take less damage? Buy the buff. This isn't a new concept by any stretch, but necessary to the whole design mantra of Brink.
While we couldn't really get a taste for how the persistent character development works in the full game (we could only play through one ongoing multiplayer match, sadly), the persistence seems like a really solid idea. But will it be enough for Brink to stand out amongst all other multiplayer shooters on the market when it releases?