Fatshark’s Martin Wahlund, Anders De Geer, and Mikael Hansson talk about their upcoming action title.
Fatshark’s Warhammer: Vermintide 2 was one of 2018’s best hidden gems, and now, the developer is ready to bring more of that co-op first person action to players, but this time in Warhammer 40K’s Old World Setting. Warhammer 40,000: Darktide looks like an exciting prospect, and to learn more about the game and its development, we recently reached out to Fatshark with some of our questions. The questions below were answered by Fatshark CEO Martin Wahlund, Technical Director Mikael Hansson, game director Anders De Geer.
"We have (and still are) put a lot of effort into creating an accurate and believable depiction of the Hive city and are working closely with Games Workshop to make sure that it is as accurate as possible."
You’ve mentioned that Darktide will be less melee-focused than Vermintide 2 What prompted the decision to emphasize ranged combat more?
Darktide will actually be focused on our hybrid combat, but with the new setting and ranged enemy types we felt that we needed to expand on our ranged combat mechanics more than the melee mechanics. That said melee is still a huge part of the feature set.
For fans of the Warhammer 40,000 universe, particularly the Old World setting, what can you tell them about what this game will encompass? What story or lore elements can they look forward to in Darktide?
Darktide introduces the players to a previously unexplored part of the Warhammer 40,000 The game deep dives inside the chaos infested hive city of Tertium and gives players a glimpse of what a life in the hive looks like. We have (and still are) put a lot of effort into creating an accurate and believable depiction of the Hive city and are working closely with Games Workshop to make sure that it is as accurate as possible.
You’ve announced a release for this year; how confident would you say you are in terms of meeting it? Has COVID disrupted the game’s development cycle at all?
We have worked from home since March 2020 to stay safe and flattening the curve. It looks like we will continue to do so for quite a while this year too. Although missing chatting when getting coffee or over burgers from Mormors (local burger joint). The developers are great at doing their part with both following guidelines, and also at delivering for the game.
"There are a lot of fun and different weapons in the Warhammer 40,000 universe and it’s hard to pick a favorite. But I have to say that the power weapons are really fun, such as the power sword and Thunderhammer."
How would you say developing for Xbox Series is different than developing for Xbox One and PS4 was?
The change for us in developing for the Xbox Series consoles is mostly one of being able to rely on a higher level of base performance in disk and CPU performance. We don’t expect the Xbox Series consoles to be our minspec target for the Darktide development the same way that the last gen consoles were for Vermintide 2. For Vermintide 2 we made significant game design changes to work around the fact that we were limited in CPU performance on last gen consoles. We look forward to not having those same limitations when developing.
We of course know the Chainsword is going to be in the game, but what other weapons are you including? Which ones excited you personally the most?
There are a lot of fun and different weapons in the Warhammer 40,000 universe and it’s hard to pick a favorite. But I have to say that the power weapons are really fun, such as the power sword and Thunderhammer.
Your last few projects in the Warhammer universe have all been multiplayer. Would you say there’s any chance of your studio working on a single player title set in the series’ settings?
We are still having a lot of fun making coop games, but never say never… future will tell.
Darktide is launching as an Xbox Series X/S console exclusive, but do you have any plans to eventually bring the game to PS5?
At this time we are only talking Xbox Series X/S and Windows PC platforms. We will discuss other platforms and their availability at a future date.
"At this time we are only talking Xbox Series X/S and Windows PC platforms. We will discuss other platforms and their availability at a future date."
What was the reason behind launching as a Xbox console exclusive?
We have worked with Microsoft for many years, and they are a great partner. We are very happy with what we’ve been doing together with them with Vermintide 2, so now we’re building on that and will be doing more exciting things with them in the future. Also, it’s no secret, releasing on multiple platforms takes time, and we are ensuring that we can do a simultaneous release to PC and Xbox this way.
Can you talk about the resolutions and frame rates Darktide is targeting on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S?
For Xbox Series X we are targeting 60fps at 4k and for Series S we are targeting 60fps at a lower than 4k resolution.
The Xbox Series X has a ton of GPU horsepower and fast SSD. How do you think this will help developers as they develop games for the next 7-8 years?
The faster SSD will have the most significant impact on the way we build games. It will allow game developers to more efficiently stream content directly from disk to more efficiently use our available runtime memory. The fact that we can guarantee that all players will have a fast SSD in their systems will also allow us to slim down our content packages significantly. By not requiring us to optimize our packages for faster loading times by duplicating content we will be able to deliver more content to players in a smaller footprint. As for the GPU horsepower, short term it will of course allow us to render the Warhammer 40k world in more vivid detail and at a faster frame rate than ever before to deliver more immersive experiences to our players. As mentioned before with the current performance profile of our games we are in fact much more excited about the increase in CPU performance for this generation that sits much closer to the current PC counterparts than the increase in GPU performance which we will easily consume by just turning up the quality settings nobs, resolution and framerate targets.
"For Xbox Series X we are targeting 60fps at 4k and for Series S we are targeting 60fps at a lower than 4k resolution."
Do you think Series S will limit games development given that its technically inferior machine compared to Series X and PS5?
While the Series S will be yet another platform to contend with that will take some time in testing and quality assurance, many developers nowadays are used to a much more dynamic ecosystem of hardware. Even in the console space we have had different tiers of the same consoles for many years. The way Series S differs from Series X (Memory amount and GPU horsepower mostly) is for us much easier to adapt to than to for example the wide variety of PCs out in the wild or the way that the previous generation of consoles differed. Less memory and slower GPU are things that most game developers can dynamically scale for by scaling resolutions and graphics effects, while different storage solutions or widely varying CPU performance are much harder to adapt to. All in all we don’t think that the Series S will significantly limit the game development progress as a whole in any way.