Combining survival, base-building, frantic combat in a mech suit, and action RPG elements, all of it wrapped up in a sci-fi story on an alien planet, EXOR Studios’ upcoming The Riftbreaker is certainly looking like an intriguing prospect. With so much going on in the game, it follows that those looking forward to the game have more than a few questions about how it’s all going to function and how it’s all going to come together. Recently, we had the chance to reach out to The Riftbreaker’s developers with questions about all of that and more. You can read our interview with producer and designer Paweł Lekki below.
"The Riftbreaker has a number of predefined difficulty levels for a wide range of player skill. On top of that we have a custom difficulty mode thanks to which players can adjust the difficulty the way they like it."
Can you talk to us about how different weather conditions across different biomes will play into the gameplay? Will weather be a dynamic element that interacts with other systems, or is it a more scripted affair meant to set specific sections of the game apart?
Weather conditions are different in each biome and they affect the effectiveness of renewable energy sources like solar panels are much more effective on the desert, and much less in the smoke covered magma biome. Aside from general weather properties each biome has a range of unique weather events like acid rain, dust storms, earthquakes, blue hailstorms and others. These events can have both positive and negative effects that bring additional flavor and a bit of unpredictability to the game.
What can you tell us about the difficulty curve in The Riftbreaker? Questions about accessibility and challenge often come up where games with an emphasis on survival mechanics are concerned, so what’s The Riftbreaker’s approach in this area?
The Riftbreaker has a number of predefined difficulty levels for a wide range of player skill. On top of that we have a custom difficulty mode thanks to which players can adjust the difficulty the way they like it. For example, it’s possible to change the time between enemy attacks, their strength, the number of available resources and the amount of damage that is dealt to the player. We’ve been working on these settings together with our community to make sure that the game is accessible to as many players as possible.
What can players expect from enemy variety in the game? Will players need to adapt different strategies to combat unique threats?
Each biome has a separate set of creatures that have different strengths and weaknesses. Some of them attack in huge swarms, some almost exclusively try to hunt the player and some act as artillery support for the swarm. There are more than 20 species of creatures in the game, each with 3 subspecies and “boss variants”. This brings us to around 80 different enemy types for the game across four unique biomes.
What can you tell us about the progression in The Riftbreaker on a macro and micro level, in terms of things such as base-building and our own mecha suit, for instance?
Progression in The Riftbreaker is very non-linear. Some players may want to focus on base building and researching new defense types while evading direct combat. It is even possible to use weapon mods for base towers instead of the player’s weapons to create an impenetrable defensive line. The players that prefer a more direct approach can on the other hand invest in various weapon and armor upgrades or even offensive drones that move with the player and support him with additional automated fire power.
"There are more than 20 species of creatures in the game, each with 3 subspecies and “boss variants”. This brings us to around 80 different enemy types for the game across four unique biomes."
How extensive are the crafting and customization mechanics in The Riftbreaker?
All weapons in The Riftbreaker have randomized stats and a chance to be crafter with unique properties. These properties can be later enhanced with additional mods that can add new characteristics like enemy piercing, cluster projectiles or even projectile homing. The player can also equip various armor upgrades that can be enhanced with mods just as well. The range of upgrade combinations is really broad.
One of The Riftbreaker’s most interesting features is its streaming integration, where audiences can actively participate in and have an effect on the game in several ways. Can you speak more about this and how it materializes in the game?
Streaming integration can be enabled at any point in the game. It is transparently woven into the game’s mechanics and can allow a streamer’s audience to take control of some of the game’s randomized events. So instead of a random number generator, the audience can pick and choose from a range of in-game events that are going to happen to the player like, A) earthquake, B) a stronger attack wave, C) a boss attack, D) a new gameplay objective, and so on. Some of these events can be exclusive to interactive streams like unlocking a specific research item for the streamer, but most of them can happen in the game naturally. They can also be configured to enable or disable positive or negative events.
What are your plans for post-launch support for The Riftbreaker?
We are planning to actively continue developing the game after launch. One of the most important components that we are planning to work on is online co-op. This is a huge task and we don’t expect to have it finished within 6 or 12 months after launch, so in the meantime we are also planning to keep on working on additional content like new biomes and monsters as well as various extended game mechanics like advanced mech customization.
Roughly how long will an average playthrough of The Riftbreaker be?
Right now, playing through the campaign takes from 30-40 hours. Plus there’s the Survival mode and Sandbox mode in four different biomes. And there’s really a lot of reply value in the game because of the nature of randomized environments, events, attack waves and customizable difficulty levels.
"Progression in The Riftbreaker is very non-linear. Some players may want to focus on base building and researching new defense types while evading direct combat."
Since the reveal of the PS5 and Xbox Series X’s specs, a lot of comparisons have been made between the speeds of the two consoles’ GPUs, with the PS5 at 10.28 TFLOPS and the Xbox Series X at 12 TFLOPS- but how much of an impact on development do you think that difference will have?
There’s much more to console speed than direct hardware clock comparisons. A lot of the speed can be driven from specific platform optimizations and differences in low level hardware access and optimization. We aren’t far enough into the optimization process to make these comparisons yet.
The PS5 features an incredibly fast SSD with 5.5GB/s raw bandwidth. How can developers take advantage of this, and how does this compare to Xbox Series X’s 2.4GB/s raw bandwidth?
HDD speed is not so important in the case of our game because we don’t rely on data streaming in a meaningful way. In the case of The Riftbreaker game loading speed is primarily bottlenecked by CPU speed, because most of the loading time is consumed for game world generation.
There is a difference in Zen 2 CPUs of both consoles. The Xbox Series X features 8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.8GHz, whereas the PS5 features 8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.5GHz. Your thoughts on this difference?
It doesn’t look like a meaningful difference in the case of our engine architecture. However, we haven’t done enough platform specific optimization and benchmarking to be able to say this with full confidence.
The Xbox Series S features lesser hardware compared to Xbox Series and Microsoft is pushing it as a 1440p/60fps console. Do you think it will be able to hold up for the graphically intensive next-gen games?
I think that with the right amount of graphics settings tweaks, the visual difference will not be that different for a gamer that is not interested in ultimate gaming graphics. The biggest hardware difference from our perspective is the amount of RAM in the XSS. It is a limiting factor for designing game logic and the size of the world.
"Playing through the campaign takes from 30-40 hours. Plus there’s the Survival mode and Sandbox mode in four different biomes."
What resolution and frame rate is the game targeting on PS5, Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S? Furthermore, will the game have multiple graphical modes?
We are targeting 60FPS on all console platforms. We can achieve this on the XSX with raytracing enabled and on the XSS with raytracing disabled. We are still optimizing the game on all console platforms, so we aren’t ready to make final statements on the native rendering resolution that the game is going to be running at in the final build.