We speak with Avalanche Studios about their upcoming open world first person shooter.
Open world connoisseurs Avalanche Studios have developed a reputation for themselves of being creators of vast, chaotic, and bombastic experiences, having delivered games like Mad Max and Just Cause over the last few years. But though their next game, Generation Zero, is also set in an open world environment, it’s looking decidedly different from what we usually associate with Avalanche. Generation Zero is, as the studio describes it, rooted in realism, set in a reimagined 1980s Sweden, where players battle against giant mechs using guerrilla tactics, while attempting to conserve important resources, such as bullets. Intrigued by the premise and excited by its potential, we reached out to Avalanche Studios to ask some of our most burning questions about Generation Zero. The following questions were answered by product owner Paul Keslin.
"While the game encourages you to play with friends so you can collaborate and combine your unique skills to take down enemies, you are not restricted from taking on the same enemies alone."
Given that Generation Zero supports 4 player co-op, is that something the game has been designed around? How will the experience differ for players who play the game solo?
While the game encourages you to play with friends so you can collaborate and combine your unique skills to take down enemies, you are not restricted from taking on the same enemies alone. The one major difference will be how efficiently you will be able to take down hostile machines, especially the bigger ones. You will need to prepare your battles and plan out your attacks more thoroughly.
Can you talk to us about the persistent nature of enemies in the game?
If you engage an enemy in Generation Zero, any damage you might do will remain even if you are forced to escape or another engagement forces you to exit the game. This means that enemies will bear the scars you made until you face them again, whether that is minutes, hours or weeks later and it allows for you to wear difficult enemies down over time.
Generation Zero’s setting is quite interesting, not only because of the time period and location, but because of the unique spin it’s putting on it as well. Were there any particular things that influenced you while coming up with the setting?
A lot of the inspiration behind the game stems from our development teams own experience growing up in 1980s Sweden. With the Cold War drawing to a close, and the country as a whole preparing for the possibility of a mass invasion or attack, the bunkers as well as the general aesthetic of the 80s left a lingering mark on them. Now that years have passed, that has morphed into a nostalgic one, something that the team in turn wanted to be able to share with the rest of the world.
Can players expect Generation Zero’s open world to have the interactivity and sandbox nature of something like Just Cause, or are you going for a different kind of experience with this game?
Avalanche’s DNA is creating massive open worlds, something that our players will definitely be able to enjoy in Generation Zero as well. However, since we have created a more mysterious and survival focused vibe, using the same kind of chaotic sandbox nature that some of our other titles possess is removed from this.
"We haven’t announced the size of the map in Generation Zero but it is comparable to previously released titles- basically it’s going to be vast and offer hours of fun."
Can you talk to us a bit about the different kinds of enemies we’ll be coming across in the game?
Throughout the game, players will encounter various enemy types that pose different challenges. The more commonly encountered Runner, which moves around on four legs and is relatively quick, is fairly easy to kill when they are on their own, but can quickly overwhelm you in packs. The behemoth Tank is a target that requires careful planning and execution to even begin damaging it. It will quickly destroy you with its arsenal of weapons, so it’s up to you and your team to decide when to make a tactical retreat. The Seeker which might at first seem harmless due to its lack of armament can quickly call on allies once it’s spots you. These are but a few of the enemies that players can expect to encounter, but each will require tactics and coordination within the team to defeat.
The game seems to be putting some amount of focus on guerrilla tactics in combat. Can you tell us what that means in terms of gameplay? Is stealth going to be a major part of the game?
The guerilla elements make themselves known in numerous ways through the gameplay. Bullets are quite scarce, requiring players to be mindful of how they maximize the use of their weapons, as well as the location, when engaging an enemy. Entering the battle with appropriate equipment is a major part of setting up a good ambush. By exploring buildings, abandoned vehicles and more, you will be able to find tools that allow to draw out unsuspecting targets in a more efficient matter, after which you can attempt to take them out from an optimal vantage point.
Avalanche obviously has a lot of experience with creating massive maps. How big is the map going to be in relation to some of your other open world settings?
We haven’t announced the size of the map in Generation Zero but it is comparable to previously released titles- basically it’s going to be vast and offer hours of fun. On top of that, we have a full day/night cycle with dynamic weather effects like snowfall, rainstorms and violent winds. This combined with the complex AI behavior, simulated ballistics, highly realistic acoustics, and a booming soundtrack bring the open world to life.
What kinds of side activities can players expect to see?
We have tried to avoid steering our players down a specific course, since we want them to be able to freely explore and discover the open world for themselves. So while you can pursue the narrative and side missions if you want, there is also the possibility of just picking a direction and seeing where your feet take you, exploring the towns, bunkers, and more that you might stumble upon.
"At its core, the game is rooted in realism, so the weapons you will find are comparable to what you could expect to see in 1980s Sweden. However, we do allow for some more unusual equipment, like flares, fireworks, boomboxes and more to handicap or distract the enemy."
Can you talk to us a bit about the weaponry in Generation Zero? Given the game’s setting, can players expect to see some whackier weapons or equipment?
At its core, the game is rooted in realism, so the weapons you will find are comparable to what you could expect to see in 1980s Sweden. However, we do allow for some more unusual equipment, like flares, fireworks, boomboxes and more to handicap or distract the enemy. There are also some more powerful weapons that players can find by progressing through the story or exploring the world, so they should constantly keep a lookout.
Speaking of weapons, will there be crafting and customization mechanics in place?
If you are strategic and skillful when taking down an enemy, avoiding to shoot specific parts of the machine, you might get the opportunity to scavenge some useful equipment off them. This might be a more optimized scope, or even one that grants a special type of sight, like night vision, which can be attached to the appropriate weapon category. Outside of weapons and equipment, players will also be able to find outfits and hairstyles to customize their character and create the perfect 1980s look.
Will the game will feature Xbox One X specific enhancements? What can players expect if they are playing the game on Xbox One X? Is 4K/60fps on the cards?
Generation Zero will be Xbox One X enhanced, so players will be able to experience the immersive world at its fullest. We do not however support 4K at launch.
And how will the PS4 Pro version turn out in terms of resolution and frame rate?
On the PS4 Pro we will offer 30 fps and a high definition experience, and in general the team is working on proving players on all platforms a great experience while playing Generation Zero.
"The game is running very well on all platforms at the moment, and will be a 30 fps and high definition experience at launch."
How is the game running on the original Xbox One and PS4, frame rate and resolution wise?
The game is running very well on all platforms at the moment, and will be a 30 fps and high definition experience at launch.
Next gen is coming sooner or later. From a development perspective, what is your biggest expectation from PS5 and Xbox Scarlett?
New technology is always exciting to work with, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds in store – both for players and developers.
Do you think cross platform will be one of the defining features of next-gen consoles?
With the recent trends we’ve seen we would not exclude it.
What is your take on the ongoing drama of loot boxes and microtransactions?
The industry is slowly shifting as more attention is drawn to this. We can certainly understand both the benefits and challenges with loot boxes so it will be interesting to see where things will eventually land.