Multiplayer shooters with shared world aspects are becoming quite the rage these days. Look no further than Destiny and The Division for the success of such titles on consoles. Mercury Steam of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow fame (and Lords of Shadow 2 infamy) are getting in on the craze with Raiders of the Broken Planet. There are key differences though – Raiders will emphasize melee combat as much as shooting and takes an episodic approach to its story-telling. The dreaded “E” word might have you concerned but don’t worry – Mercury Steam has a plan for that.
GamingBolt spoke to Dave Cox to learn more about Raiders of the Broken Planet and to discuss its various aspects – what new content can be expected after release, the possibility of an early access release and much more.
"We plan to release new characters, weapons and other unlockables periodically. New strategies and team compositions will emerge with this ever increasing roster of tools and characters."
Coming from a third person hack and slash adventure in Lords of Shadow, what motivated the studio to work on a multiplayer title?
After almost seven years of working on Castlevania, we felt like we needed a change. If you check our previous interviews, you’ll see that we always said LOS2 would be our last Castlevania game. In fact, the development of Raiders began before LOS2 was released, so we were already heading into Science Fiction territory which is a setting that we love just as much as dark gothic fantasy.
We totally love the kind of immersion that only a good single player game can provide and, as developers, it’s in our DNA and something intrinsic to what we do at Mercury Steam. So, at its heart, Raiders is a grand adventure that constantly encourages players to think “different” and gives them the tools to play that way too.
In Raiders, single and multiplayer experience are so transparent to each other, that players will instinctively drop in and out of either naturally, dependant on how they are feeling when starting a mission.
What can you tell us about the characters in Raiders of the Broken Planet? Will players be able to customize their own or choose from a roster?
Raiders is primarily an adventure-action game starring a bunch of unlikely protagonists. In a story driven way, each season will introduce new characters for you to discover through your adventuring who can then be added to your roster. Players can customize their character’s abilities through talents allowing them to create multiple character profiles suitable for different play styles. Alternative skins will be given as rewards or can be purchased too.
We plan to release new characters, weapons and other unlockables periodically. New strategies and team compositions will emerge with this ever increasing roster of tools and characters. These characters will only be available to you after you hire them with in game gold or as part of each new season adventure.
Raiders of the Broken Planet will have a story and a single player mode as well. But I have a concern. Your Lords of Shadow games were cinematic but since the new IP is largely a multiplayer game, will the cinematic feel and storytelling be compromised?
Absolutely not! You can play the game completely solo if you wish. This game has a rich story and offers a compelling and cinematic single player experience that is not tacked on in any way but designed and planned right from the get go.
"Visually, Raiders takes a lot of inspiration from late 80’s and especially early 90’s Anime and Japanese Manga. We’ve also been taking many notes from western comics that have that Japanese influence too."
What inspired the story for Raiders of the Broken Planet?
Raiders is a grand sci-fi adventure set on a broken alien planet, invaded by a motley crew of human mercenaries searching for the mythical substance, Aleph.
We took some inspiration from classic western movie “The Magnificent Seven”, which itself is based on Kurosawa’s seminal “The Seven Samurai”. As in those stories, our characters are an unlikely bunch of fighters, each with a particular, often contradictory reason to do what they do; most are not exactly the kind of people you would invite home for dinner but somewhere within them is a sense of good or honour, some of the time…
Visually, Raiders takes a lot of inspiration from late 80’s and especially early 90’s Anime and Japanese Manga. We’ve also been taking many notes from western comics that have that Japanese influence too. I guess all of our games tend to take Japanese artistic reference and mix them with our own western cultural heritage. We hope our players will enjoy being part of a sci-fi story set on an ancient world where every corner has a story to tell, every statue has meaning and events that took place thousands of years ago, will have an impact on their play experience.
Could you tell us more about how the multiplayer will be “asymmetric” for players?
In Raiders, you live the adventure the way you want: If you want to be the good guy, you can play “solo” or choose to band together with up to three other players and battle through the story led campaign missions; If you feel evil on the other hand, you can storm into any one of those missions fighting alongside the bad guys instead. You alone against the Raiders team.
It’s worth noting that from a “protagonist” perspective, you never know when an “antagonist” will show up in your game. The single player game cannot be crashed into, you will fight your way as the story unfolds and live the full Raiders of the Broken Planet experience uninterrupted if you desire to.
What kind of upgrade system will the game use? Is it a straightforward action title or is there loot and gear to discover?
Players will have freedom to create customized builds of any character based on talents earned through game play. These talents, as well as weapon blueprints, faction points and gold are loot awarded at the end of missions.
How do the missions in Raiders of the Broken Planet work? Could you provide a few examples of missions that players will be able to complete?
Sign up for the Raiders Beta and you’ll find out soon.
"We are planning early access and multiple beta’s across every platform. Our beta program allows us to work with players in a way that just wasn’t possible before and allows the audience a chance to get involved in game development as it happens."
What is the melee combat looking like at this time and how does it work alongside the shooting? Can players also use special abilities to give themselves an advantage?
In Raiders, melee and shooting are organically integrated into each other, offering many options to approach combat. But to have a full picture of it, gameplay wise, we need to go narrative for a moment to introduce one of the key concepts of the game: The Aleph, a mythical substance only existing on the Broken Planet, that enhances combat prowess, reduces stress and heals wounds.
Almost everyone on the broken planet carries a personal supply of Aleph. This is plugged straight into the character’s nervous system. When a warrior dies, that Aleph consumes body and gear in a fraction of second. Nothing remains on the battlefield. So, if you want anything from your enemies, you need to go and get it using your bare hands before killing them. It’s in the “go and get it” part where the uniqueness of Raiders lies, since it involves much more than just shooting enemies from afar.
It involves the tactical use of the battlefield, since you want to move without being seen or detected; It involves careful management of your stress levels, since enemies can detect the Aleph “anti-stress” activity in your body even through walls; It involves a fair amount of thinking before making the final approach, since your best option could be an ambush followed by one lethal blow or a sudden shootout to injure and incapacitate the enemy. Smart use of your character’s ability or a straight face to face close quarters combat are also excellent choices available to you… and all of this depends on what character you are using against what character you are facing, whether you are a lone wolf or have your pack behind you.
What kind of networking solution will the game use (peer to peer, dedicated servers, etc.)?
We are working to provide the best possible experience online.
With the episodic approach the game is taking, is there a worry of segmenting the game’s audience between those who pick up the next episode and those who don’t?
We are very aware of that risk. We hope to encourage people to live the whole Raiders experience by first, making sure that, gameplay and story wise, the adventure is a blast. Independently on how you play, solo or with teammates, you won’t have enough Raiders with just one season . Second, as we develop each season of the game, we involve the community in order to shape and influence the game and then we release each season, so people can play and continue to feedback allowing us to improve the overall experience.
Third, having a new season released every few months and plenty of meaningful content and events in the middle. Fourth, setting an incredibly low price for each season and rewarding committed players who have already bought into the game.
Finally, taking this approach is crucial for an independent studio like ours. It allows us to deliver high quality content, allows you to get involved and gives us some revenue to continue building and refining the whole experience.
Will Raiders of the Broken Planet be heading into early access at any point (especially now that it’s common on all platforms)?
Yes!! We are planning early access and multiple beta’s across every platform. Our beta program allows us to work with players in a way that just wasn’t possible before and allows the audience a chance to get involved in game development as it happens.
"At its heart, Raiders is a third person shooter that constantly encourages players to think “different” and gives them the tools to play that way too."
I also wanted to ask some development/tech questions for the game. Are you guys targeting 1080p and 60fps on the PS4 and Xbox One, especially on the latter given its slightly lesser hardware?
We are working to get the best out of each platform.
Sony is already set to launch the PS4 NEO next year and will be reportedly less powerful than Scorpio. Do you think that power difference will matter in the longer run?
We still don’t have a full understanding of the final specs and potential of either machine yet, so it’s too early for us to call. However, both offer a fantastic opportunity for us as developers to deliver the very best content to gamers. As gamers ourselves, we are very excited for the future!
Overall speaking, what are your thoughts on the PS4 Neo and X1 Scorpio? Do you think it’s a bad thing that consoles will lose their advantage of being a closed and fixed platform? And lastly, do you have any plans to bring Raiders of the Broken Planet to them?
As mentioned we are very excited about the potential for these new consoles. We will be bringing Raiders of the Broken Planet to both consoles!!
Is there anything else you want to tell us before we let you go?
At its heart, Raiders is a third person shooter that constantly encourages players to think “different” and gives them the tools to play that way too. In time through our community forum and social media channels, we will be introducing these features and our hope is that through discussion and feedback with our players, we can adjust them using the multiple betas that we are planning.
Raiders will be a premium title sold at an extremely competitive price point for each individual season. Raiders will not be the price of a traditional boxed product. The game will not be free to play either. There are no subscriptions or monthly fees.
Each season is a self-contained adventure and players don’t need to purchase all seasons in order to continue to play the game. In addition, if you already own a season, subsequent seasons will be discounted for you. We hope people will get involved and try the game out and contribute to its development. In return we promise a high quality game at a fair price, lots of free content and a real say in how things turn out. Please sign up for our beta program here.