There’s no shortage of battle royale games in the market, and many of them are flying high at the moment, but it’s fair to say that not many games in the genre try to do things differently from the established norm. That, however, is exactly what Proletariat’s Spellbreak tries to do. With its fantasy setting and its blend of battle royale structure and RPG-like progression, it’s very different from your typical battle royale shooter, and the developers seem to be keen to keep on improving upon the experience for years to come. To learn more about the game and what the future holds for it, we recently sent across some of our most burning questions to the developers. You can read our interview with executive producer Cardell Kerr below.
"One of the main things we believe in at Proletariat is to make games we don’t see being made. We were all impacted by the growth of Battle Royale games, but we felt there was an opportunity to make something different."
How did the idea of making a medieval fantasy themed battle royale title come about?
One of the main things we believe in at Proletariat is to make games we don’t see being made. We were all impacted by the growth of Battle Royale games, but we felt there was an opportunity to make something different. What stood out to us was that most of the other titles focused on gun-based gameplay and we really wanted to do something that was more fantasy based. Ironically, when we started working on Spellbreak, it was more swords than sorcery – over time, we found that the concept of sorcery and allowing players to become the ultimate battle mage was where our depth really was!
Spellbreak’s central premise obviously separates it from other games in the battle royal genre, but can you tell us about some of the ways it does so from a mechanical perspective?
From a raw game mechanic point of view, Spellbreak harkens back to Unreal Tournament. Our projectiles mostly have travel time and physics, allowing for a very different set of skills from more instant fire styles of games. Additionally, movement fully takes advantage of the three-dimensional space where players can fly, glide, dash or teleport to fully traverse the map. All of that combines to make mechanical skill in Spellbreak fundamentally different than most other games
What can you tell us about the gauntlets system and how that affects the core combat in Spellbreak?
We have six unique gauntlets within Spellbreak and each determine what sort of elemental magic you can use in combat. Each gauntlet is attuned to one element and has one sorcery effect that allows for zone control, defense, or even movement if you’re the right class. Since your character actually equips two gauntlets (one on each hand), this allows players to have more freedom in how they want to approach combat. In addition, we have a powerful spell combination system that allows the elements to interact with each other. A great example we love seeing from our players include throwing down a blizzard (an area of effect ability which creates a swirling ice storm) to counter incoming fire or toxic spells which allows them to aim their ice lance with a little (admittedly frosty) breathing room. It’s these types of unique moment to moment elements that our gauntlet system allows.
Spellbreak’s mid-match progression of unlocking new abilities and skills and levelling up is one of its most interesting features, because it’s not something that one often sees in a battle royale title. How did that concept come about during development?
We feel that one of the most important design aspects within Battle Royales is that the game feels like you can always win, so long as you’re alive. One of the important aspects of Spellbreak is to deliver on the full spectrum battle mage experience. We want the player to feel like they are a magical superhero, and that’s where the concept of class levels really coalesced. As time passes in the game, you will get stronger just as a part of playing. Towards the end, your full potential has been unlocked, and the battles become even more over the top.
"We are especially excited for all of the performance related improvements. By doing them, we have been able to add more personality to the world and make each region feel like its own fantasy environment."
Given that Spellbreak’s matches typically last around 15-20 minutes, how did you go about balancing those progression mechanics to ensure that they feel meaningful even over shorter periods of time?
One of the most useful tactics of making memorable progression is to make them non-linear. The fact that each level is a major bump that comes with an unlocked ability allows for clear moments of meaningful progression that wouldn’t feel as momentous if abilities were just scaled up over time. Combining the leveling system with the gathering of loot (of different rarities) allows for clear goals that reward skill and longevity, alongside the more luck-based progression that accompanies looting. The mixture is far stronger than the sum of the parts.
What are the most important and biggest improvements you’ve made to Spellbreak during its alpha and beta periods?
We are especially excited for all of the performance related improvements. By doing them, we have been able to add more personality to the world and make each region feel like its own fantasy environment. We’ve also continued to work on class balance by combining gameplay data and listening to our passionate fans.
Are there any similar improvements that you’re currently working on directly as a result of feedback from the community?
We are always looking at feedback from our community! We have over 270K players in our Discord server and their feedback drove a lot of rune changes and even the addition of the scroll system we did in the past. Lately we have spent a lot more time just trying to find better ways to teach the game to new and even established players, as that’s been a resonant theme within the community at large. That effort resulted in our new Tutorial experience which launched with the 2.1 update. There is a lot going on in Spellbreak, and even experienced players likely have things to learn.
What can you tell us about additional modes or features you have in store for Spellbreak?
We can’t really spoil anything specific, but it’s important to call attention to the fact that Proletariat is no stranger to games as a service, and ongoing content. Most of us have been making games for over a decade, and most of that was ongoing content support. Fans can expect some significant game updates, some map changes that go along with a strong narrative that you would expect from any RPG game as well as some surprises that we can’t wait to share with our community. We can’t wait to introduce folks to our greater world!
Given its very nature, Spellbreak seems like a game that you can keep alive and active for a long time to come. With that in mind, what are your larger goals for the game’s post-launch support? Your mission statement, so to speak?
We want Spellbreak to be an experience that always leaves players with a feeling of ‘I can’t believe that just happened!’ All the updates we add are really just trying to ensure we can keep that experience alive and well for all players, new and old. We also have a reach world lore that we are excited to explore with future updates and we are excited for all of our fans to learn more about the Hollow Lands.
"We have no updates ready to share at this time, but it’s our dream to allow for friends from around the world to be together and play our game. "
Do you have any plans to bring Spellbreak to the Switch or Xbox One?
We have no updates ready to share at this time, but it’s our dream to allow for friends from around the world to be together and play our game. We feel that gaming with your community is the single most important thing to emphasize with how games have continued to evolve.
Will the game will feature PS4 Pro-specific enhancements? Is 4K/60 FPS on the cards?
We are constantly looking into ways to leverage the power of our platforms. Currently, we are extremely focused on our standard performance, but after we get that squared away we will definitely be looking into the PS4 Pro specific enhancements!
How is the game running on the original PS4, in terms of frame rate and resolution?
We are targeting 60fps on the original PS4 at 1080p.
Given that next-gen consoles are right around the corner, have you given any thought to next-gen ports for the game?
We touched on this a bit in the previous question regarding additional platforms and although we have no updates ready to share at this time, we believe that Spellbreak can be played for many years to come and are excited to deliver that experience to our fans.