Harmonix have a history that needs to introduction when it comes to musically inspired video games. In 2019, they released Audica on PC, delivering a solid, engaging rhythmic virtual reality shooter, before promptly following up with a PS4 release a few months afterward. Shortly before its console launch, we sent across a few of our questions about it to the developers. You can read our conversation with Audica product manager Troy Ferrio below.
NOTE: This interview was conducted prior to the game’s PS4 launch.
"Since we launched Audica into Early Access earlier this year, we have been blown away by our players’ enthusiasm for the game."
Audica has been very well received by players since its PC launch earlier this year. How heartening has the reaction from the community been to see?
Since we launched Audica into Early Access earlier this year, we have been blown away by our players’ enthusiasm for the game. The impact the community has had on the game is tangible and we would not have the game we have today without that enthusiasm.
Combining precision shooting with rhythm gameplay is certainly a novel concept, but clearly, it’s one that works. To begin with though, how did the idea even come about?
Fundamentally, we wanted to create a rhythm action experience that embodies the over-the-top action scenes in movies. So we set about in melding the idea of keeping a rhythm while executing the movie tropes of “crossing arms to shoot” or “holding the gun sideways”. This led to the core gameplay we have today which is summarized by my favorite line we’ve ever crafted: “a choreographed ballet of beat-blasting brilliance”
Given that this game is currently in Early Access on Steam, how has the dialog with the community been, in terms of not just feedback for current content, but in general in deciding the future of where to take this title?
The dialog with the community has been amazing. Throughout development we rapidly introduced new features based on player feedback — everything from customizing the color of your guns, adding gunslinging tricks, to core scoring mechanics. The game would look a lot different today if we hadn’t worked so closely with the community to understand their feedback.
"One thing that makes Audica such a fun and physical experience is the immersion in a wide field of targets."
It’s clear that virtual reality adds immensely to Audica and its entire experience, but do you think this is a game that simply would not work without virtual reality? That is to say, would you be open to releasing a non-VR version of the game down the road?
One thing that makes Audica such a fun and physical experience is the immersion in a wide field of targets. Instead of being confined to a screen that takes up a few degrees of your viewing angle, VR essentially allows us to make those targets appear on a giant 180-degree wraparound screen. Combine that with high-quality hand tracking and independent controllers and you have an experience that is truly unique to VR.
Audica‘s soundtrack currently largely focuses on electronic music, but do you see the game expanding to other music genres as well?
Harmonix has had a long history of crafting amazing soundtracks for our games and DLC, and Audica is no different. We pay attention to artists we think our players would like and seek out tracks we can immediately picture authoring and mapping. Our core soundtracks tend to be pretty focused, so with our DLC we’ve been exploring genres not represented in the core soundtrack to help expand Audica’s musical diversity.
Can you talk about the customization options in the game and what they entail?
We offer a ton of customization options for players. We allow players to customize the color of their guns & targets, players can unlock additional models and arenas through the Campaign, and even tweak some of the gameplay settings like how much aim assist the game provides or adjusting the Audio/Video sync to fit your system’s calibration.
"We are hard at work developing more DLC for Audica to expand its soundtrack even further."
Do you have any plans to add more tracks, arenas, and other content to the game with future DLC?
We are hard at work developing more DLC for Audica to expand its soundtrack even further. We’re going to have content for all players and platforms releasing over the next few months, so stay tuned for more info.