We are fast approaching the next generation of games consoles and it’s a terrifying time to be a wallet, but an exciting time to be a gamer. In the lead up to a console launch, we begin to see what tight-lipped developers have been spending their time working on.
One such developer is People Can Fly, the team behind games such as Bulletstorm and Gears of War: Judgement. At last year’s E3 (2019) we got our first look at their newest title Outriders, a class-based RPG third-person shooter that is solidly based in a gritty Sci-fi setting.
Since then we have had small glimpses here and large breakdowns there (Outriders Broadcast), with each new detail looking better than the last. Recently we got the chance to chat with People Can Fly’s Creative Director Bartek Kmita about Outriders’ world, the gameplay choices awarded to the player and the influences that helped shape the project.
WellPlayed: From what you have shown us so far, Enoch doesn’t look like somewhere you would want to vacation to with the family, but it does look beautiful. What locations and biomes can we expect to see in the full release?
Bartek Kmita: You’ll go on an epic journey across the world of Enoch in the campaign, from the mud and trash of the desperate Human colonies to the stark and freezing mountains of Eagle Peaks, the dark and mysterious Jungle and the unforgiving Desert, and much more that we can’t quite talk about yet!
WP: Releasing on both current and next-generation consoles, do you have any plan for cross-generational play? Or cross-platform support?
BK: We’ll have more to reveal on cross-play later this year.
WP: With a number of other looter-shooters around, what does Outriders do differently that will allow it to stand apart from the rest?
BK: We’re much more of an RPG-Shooter than a looter shooter. We were more inspired by classic RPG’s like D&D and Diablo than anything else on the market now. You will have a lot of options to shape how your character plays, and what powers you focus on. We wanted to build a character progression system that allows for class builds with the creativity and complexity of classic RPG’s.
WP: There seems to be a strong emphasis on the story with Outriders, how long can we expect the main campaign to be? And are there any plans for post-release DLC?
BK: The length of the game depends entirely on how you play it. The main campaign alone is around 25 hours if you just mainline the campaign missions, but there are side-quests, hunter missions and bounty hunts that will take you off the beaten path and will make the game at least 40+ hours. After you finish the campaign there’s end-game content that can keep players who would like to stay in this world busy for quite some time as well.
Outriders will give players a complete experience out of the box. The full story with a definitive end, and any end game challenges are all there on day one. Delivering that content what we are focusing on now.
After that, who knows, that’s really up to the players. If they love this world and want to spend more time in it, and the game is successful, we would love to add new stories to Outriders. Anything we create would be similarly self-contained complete experiences that add new stories we’d like to tell in the Outriders world and universe.
WP: Going into development, what were your inspirations for Outriders’ gritty sci-fi setting and story?
BK: I’ve always loved stories of anti-heroes, and dark, brutal sci-fi and fantasy universes. One of my favourite stories is actually a manga/anime called Berserk, for example. We also love classic dark literature like Heart of Darkness. The inspiration of those kinds of dark universes and stories was where we started out when creating the world of Outriders. We decided immediately that there wouldn’t be any lasers and shiny metals in Outriders, and that we wanted to develop a dark, brutal, and ballistic sci-fi world.
WP: Your previous title Bulletstorm encouraged players not to hide behind cover, but rather to build momentum and set a high pace. Does Outriders share any of that DNA, and what else have you learnt from your previous titles that have aided you in Outriders’ development?
BK: That depends on how you want to build your character. You could build a character that relies on cover a lot, that likes to stay at range and keep enemies away from you and so on, or you could build a character that doesn’t use cover at all and stays in close range, using shotguns, powers and melee attacks to keep healing through doing consistent damage. It’s totally up to you!
We wanted to create a progression system that allows the player to create their own builds and their own play styles. Whether you want to rely on cover, or not use it at all, they’re both completely valid approaches to combat, as long as you build a character that supports that playstyle.
We’ve learned a lot from all our previous projects at People Can Fly. I wouldn’t say Outriders is inspired by any one thing from our past, we’ve taken all our experience and all the lessons we’ve learned over the years into the development of the biggest, most ambitious game we’ve ever made.
WP: With co-op being drop-in drop-out, will all players progress be furthered or will progression be linked to the host?
BK: The multiplayer is host-based, and the host will decide where in the story you will begin playing. If all the players in a session are on the same story point, they will share progression. If one player is further ahead than another, the player who joins the session will get a warning that any progress in this play session won’t count towards their own campaign progression. This is to prevent any players accidentally skipping parts of the campaign. They still keep all the experience and loot they pick up in that session though.
If there is a progression mismatch, the host is also able to go back to a previous point, using a feature we call the Timeline, to match up with wherever the other player is at in the story in order to sync up their progression.
WP: So far we have seen that the game’s difficulty is linked to a world tier system, can you step us through how that system will work in moment to moment gameplay and how it might change when playing in co-op?
BK: There are 15 World Tiers in the game, and each World Tier makes the enemies tougher, but also gives you a better chance to get higher tier loot. This system will dynamically adjust the difficulty to keep the game challenging as your skills and your equipment improves.
You start the game on World Tier 1. As you play through the campaign you’ll earn World Tier XP that works separately from your character level. If you do well in combat, you’ll level up, but if you start dying, you’ll lose some XP and spend longer on your current World Tier before you’re able to level up. You’ll never level down a World Tier, but you can manually move down a World Tier if you find it too difficult.
In co-op, the host will control the World Tier you’re playing on. The campaign experience will feel different in co-op as Outriders will dynamically adjust to the amount of players, and add more enemies to the environment. Some boss-type enemies will be a lot tougher as well. Because of this, co-op can often be a lot more hectic and intense than singleplayer!
The most recent Outriders Broadcast gave us an in-depth look at the badarse Pyromancer class
WP: Is PvP something that was ever discussed for Outriders? Could we see it added to the game in the future or are you happy to stay focused on co-op?
BK: There are no plans for PvP in Outriders at this point. We talked about it early on in development of course, but we decided from the beginning that we wanted to do a focused PvE experience with Outriders. This allows us to go crazy on amazing powers, have a really open character progression system where players can be super creative with their builds, and focus on delivering a great campaign, full of content and side-activities.
WP: We have seen the pyromancer, trickster and devastator classes in action, with a fourth class still a mystery as this stage, how important is class variety to co-op gameplay and will there be any incentive to having different classes in your squad?
BK: Outriders is all about variety, but it doesn’t just come in the form of playing different classes. We’ve created a character progression system that allows for truly unrivalled freedom and creativity in how you build your chosen class. You’ll be able to create your own play style using a selection of powers, an extensive class tree, and itemization with guns, gear and mods. You can put three players of the same class in the same session, and have completely different strategies, different powers and different weapons. We’ve really opened up the progression system to allow for a lot of creativity and skill expression from players.
WP: Thank you for taking the time to chat with us and best of luck for the rest of development. We can’t wait to play it when it launches.
Outriders will be releasing on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and PC in 2020.