NeoCore Games talks about its action RPG and plans for constant content.
Pulling off a Warhammer 40K game is hard, especially when a developer has to balance such extensive lore with the mechanics in mind. That being said, there’s more than enough good reason to be giddy for Warhammer 40K: Inquisitor – Martyr, an action RPG from the studio behind The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing. Besides its experience with the same (the Van Helsing series overall despite the middling third game is pretty good), NeoCore is also looking to maintain Inquisitor – Martyr with continuous free updates and expansions along with an interesting open ended world for end game battles.
GamingBolt had a chance to speak to lead narrative designer Viktor Juhász and producer Zoltán Pozsonyi who spoke about the various features and story of Warhammer 40K: Inquisitor – Martyr along with how its post-launch content updates would work. If you’re even the least bit excited about the game, then read on.
"It will be your average ARPG length, not counting the open world game mode, called Inquisitorial Campaign, which grants you years of entertainment."
NeoCore Games has achieved quite the level of success with its action RPGs like The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing. What was it like to translate that approach to the Warhammer lore?
Viktor Juhász: We’ve learnt a lot during the development of the Van Helsing trilogy. We’re very proud of that project and we loved working on it. It was also a very important lesson for us and we are building on that experience in Inquisitor. There are some things that are essential for an ARPG but can’t be directly translated into the Warhammer universe. In terms of for example the loot system, the character progression and the skills, we’re doing things that nobody has ever done before; simply because nobody has ever had to do it before. It’s a passion project for us, and everyone at Neocore is very excited to be a part of it.
Can you tell us a bit about the story of Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor Martyr?
Viktor Juhász: Inquisitor – Martyr tells a classic haunted ship-scenario – with some twists. First of all, it’s set on an ancient spaceship-monastery floating among the stars, which hides something terrible. Secondly, you are an Inquisitor, just as fearsome as the monsters lurking in the empty halls. So the claustrophobic horror story turns into an action-packed, visceral action RPG. It’s all about a mystery with deep roots in the past of the Inquisition – about a terrible discovery and the price one must pay to make the right decision in such a grim universe.
How long will the game last overall? Will it feature a Veteran setting or various levels of difficulty for players wanting a challenge?
Viktor Juhász: It’s way too early to put a number on this one. It will be your average ARPG length, not counting the open world game mode, called Inquisitorial Campaign, which grants you years of entertainment. The story mode difficulty will always be scaled to the players’ current level, but the Inquisitorial Campaign will always pose new challenges for the players. So, when we open up a new subsector within the Caligari Sector, you might not want to go there right away…There will be a couple of heretics there with some nasty surprises in store.
Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor Martyr will feature a “persistent sandbox” that will continue the game after the story finishes. Could you provide more details on this? How similar is it to Diablo 3’s Adventure mode in terms of objectives and quests?
Viktor Juhász: In the Inquisitiorial Campaign we will open up an almost unlimited area for you outside of the framework of the story. You will be an Inquisitor with your own ship and your own group of followers, and you are free to wander the Caligari Sector and complete missions. The basic gameplay remains an Action-RPG gameplay, but we wanted to improve the long-term endgame with diversity. A lot of diversity… There will be a huge variety in mission types, the maps are randomly generated, so you won’t see the same maps with the same objectives all over. You can choose any quests you want, you can improve your character and increase your reputation in certain regions.
"Players will meet each other on a meta-game level and they leave their mark on the Caligari Sector which the others will be able to see."
This is a persistent world, where your decisions, actions and reputation matters. The Caligari Sector also has its ongoing storyline which is a composition of many factors. It is influenced by the missions, the balance between the various factions and of course the special Events that have an effect on the entire Sector. These Events generate chains of missions and the outcome of these missions will determine what the next Event will be. We only introduce the conflict, and let the players decide, which side they take in it.
Players will meet each other on a meta-game level and they leave their mark on the Caligari Sector which the others will be able to see. For example if you spend considerable time and effort to purge a whole star system, then you’ll be named as the protector of that territory and the other players will also know that. Until someone else comes along and accomplishes another high-profile mission there, obviously. What makes a world truly persistent is that players can feel that they have an impact on that world, and the world is not adjusted to them.
Warhammer 40,000 is well known for its squad-based scenarios and stories. Will players have a team of soldiers to command or simply fight solo?
Viktor Juhász: The story mode will remain a single-player only experience, but you will have a group of AI controlled followers. Followers in the Inquisitorial Campaign will also help you out, like defending your Inquisitorial Fortress. We know that this is an integral part of the Warhammer 40,000 universe and we will talk about this in detail, in the not too distant future.
Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor Martyr will be heading to the PS4 and Xbox One alongside PC and Mac when it launches next year. What challenges did you face in developing for consoles and what prompted the decision to go beyond the PC for this release?
Viktor Juhász: Consoles have always been on our radar, as you might have heard The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing trilogy is also coming to Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The new console generation’s architecture is very similar to the PCs and the machines are also powerful enough, so our biggest challenge is to make the controls feel just as intuitive with controllers, as it is with a keyboard and mouse setup.
In both the PC and console versions we wanted to find the balance between being faithful to the lore and to the requirements of a great ARPG. We had to overcome some serious technological challenges when we decided to revamp the engine. We still have a long way to go, like the creation of the persistent open world.
What kind of plans do you have for the “continuous flow of content”? Will there be periodic updates and new areas added to Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor Martyr?
Viktor Juhász: Our main goal is to keep the Caligari Sector alive and kickin’ for years and we also want the players to experience what is it like to be a part of an ever changing living universe. We will continously give out free content patches for the game and we will also publish two large standalone expansions. We haven’t made up our minds about smaller payable DLCs yet. Free and continuous content will help to keep the Sector alive.
One of the best things about the Inquisitorial Campaign is that it’s open-ended. We have many different ideas about how to further expand this vast territory with new planet types and enemies and of course we’re eager to hear what our fans want. During the development of the Van Helsing trilogy we built a very special relationship with our players, and their feedback was very important for us. We want to do the same with Inquisitor – Martyr, and ask them what they want to see in the game.
"Direct X 12 is more of a big, structural development that gives the programmers a lot more opportunity by providing them easier access directly to the GPU."
What online features can we expect in Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor Martyr? Will there be co-op and matchmaking for players?
Viktor Juhász: In the Inquisitorial Campaign up to for players will be able to play together in cooperative mode. The matchmaking is something that is very important for us, because we want to make it possible for our future Inquisitors to be able to get to together with their friends and kick some heretic ass. We’re still working on the finer details, but I can tell you, that the matchmaking system will be an integral part of the multiplayer experience.
Given the quick turn-around of NeoCore Games when it came to the Van Helsing series, how quickly can we expect Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor Martyr in the New Year?
Viktor Juhász: There’s still a long way to go and we want this game to be perfect on Day One. All we’re saying at the moment that Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor Martyr will be out in 2016. (And you’re going to love it)
Will Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor Martyr run at 1080p and 60fps on both the PS4 and Xbox One?
Zoltán Pozsonyi: This is still very early to talk about frame rates and resolutions. All I can tell you know is that we’re going to do our best to make the game shine on all the available platforms.
NeoCore Games has great experience in developing games for PC. Keeping that in mind what are your thoughts on DirectX12 and how do you think it will speed up and enhance game visuals on PC and Xbox One?
Zoltán Pozsonyi: Direct X 12 is not something that allows you to play around with new shiny effects during the development. It’s more of a big, structural development that gives the programmers a lot more opportunity by providing them easier access directly to the GPU. This means that they’ll have a lot more wiggle room for performance optimization and making the code run faster; if you’re able to squeeze out higher performance out of the GPU, that can be translated into framerate or more beautiful content in the game. DX12 supports asynchronous compute shaders, which for example allows you to use more and better quality special effects and post process stuff, a lot faster (screen space ambient occlusion, screen space reflection, better quality shadow mapping, transculency, tone mapping).
"We’re still in the early phase of the new generation (hence we’re still calling it the “new generation”), so it’s very hard to tell what the future holds for console gaming."
Both the consoles feature 8GB memory which by today’s PC gaming standards is bit below. More and modern PC games require a recommended 16GB memory. Do you think by the end of this console cycle, PS4 and Xbox One will run out of memory?
Zoltán Pozsonyi: There was a time when even 512 MB of RAM made us the happiest people on the planet – actually before that even less seemed to be more than enough. Programs tend to eat up as much RAM as the given hardware has – 5-6 years from now we’ll see hardware requirements which will far exceed the 8GB limit of the current generation of consoles, simply because the high-end PCs will have a lot more than that. At the end of this cycle the 8GB might seem tight, but it won’t have to make such a huge difference between the PC and console versions of a game. The limitation of the GPU-CPU computing speed seems a lot scarier at the moment.
From a developer perspective, do you think there will be another console cycle in PS5 and a successor to Xbox One? Or do you think games will become more of a service rather than limited to a hardware box?
Zoltán Pozsonyi: That’s a really good question. We’re still in the early phase of the new generation (hence we’re still calling it the “new generation”), so it’s very hard to tell what the future holds for console gaming. The industry is changing faster than ever and we’re really just trying to keep up with it. There are some very interesting experiments going on, but I think it will take more than a couple of years to perfect the technology behind it. We all remember the voices that proclaimed the downfall of consoles not too long ago, suggesting that this generation might be the last, but the current numbers don’t seem to support that theory.
It’s slightly similar to our own experience – 10 years ago we were constantly warned about the inevitable decline of PC gaming, and PC gaming still looks fine to us. We think that the decline of both PC and console gaming seems unlikely at the moment, and trends are shaped by gamers and not theoreticians, so we are ready to create games on platforms we have the opportunity to work for and which fit our chosen gameplay.
It’d be great to reach the point where games are not limited by hardware and the periphery, but we won’t think that it will happen very soon. It might be a safe bet to say that until console manufacturers have considerable success with their products, they won’t abandon the idea of a next generation. They base their decisions on financial realities, and as we see it, the sales numbers indicate that gamers clearly love buying consoles.
Is there anything else you want to tell us before I let you go?
Zoltán Pozsonyi: One thing that I think the players will love – and also one of my favorite features in Inquisitor. The Inquisitorial Campaign gives you the opportunity to build your own Inquisitorial Fortress. This will be your safe haven that you can improve and customize… and it will also serve as the way to introduce an indirect PvP mode.
You won’t fight other players directly, but the Inquisition has many Ordos and factions with different agenda and they are working in the same Sector as you. The bitter theological quarrels sometimes lead to clashes: never in public, always in the shadows. Which means that other players can attack your Fortress and you can do the same. The reward is, obviously, valuable loot from others.