"You need to play it," 5th Cell producer Caleb Arseneaux told me. That's why Hybrid will not only have a beta, but remain an XBLA exclusive for the time being. "You need to play it to discover its charm, and so XBLA has free demos. That's a huge thing: you don't need to risk anything. You get in, you play, and we'll have a counter or whatever that will count down before you have to decide if you'll buy it. That's enough for us, because what's going to sell it more than anything else is the gameplay itself. So, yeah, we're an exclusive XBLA title right now."
As soon as I jumped into a game and started darting around, I immediately fell in love with the quick, twitchy gunplay. The customization options, though fairly uninspired, added a layer of depth to the affair – guns, individual character perks and grenade modifiers are all available. Some of the more ingenious options included a hacking grenade, which turns enemy drones against their masters if they're caught within the blast radius, and team-based buffs such as increased weapons damage or faster ability cooldowns.
Hybrid features a persistent online world that changes constantly, based on the outcome of battles. Battles take place across continents, which are broken down into regions – once a side has won a region, it's locked out. Each region also awards the side who controls it a special modifier, and it takes only a glance to see which side is dominating a particular region.
Once you boot up Hybrid, you have to pick a side: Paladin or Variant. Once chosen, you're locked in for the long haul and fight in regions to try and capture the area and, eventually, the continent. "Everyone constantly contributes for their faction," Arseneaux tells me. "That is how players will complete the world map part of the game. They're all contributing to the same war effort. We estimate players will lock out the entire world map in two-to-four weeks. One day you may see the Paladins have locked out North America, and another day you may see the Variant has Asia." Hot Zones will show where the two factions are neck-and-neck in fully claiming an individual region.