‘OUTRIDERS’ DEVS TALK “BRANDING” CHEATERS, ADDRESSING SHAKY-CAM COMPLAINTS FROM DEMO
After its demo racked up more than 2 million downloads, Square Enix and People Can Fly’s action RPG Outriders, with which VENN has a media partnership, is set to fully debut on Thursday across PlayStation, Xbox, Stadia and PC platforms.
People Can Fly’s Bartek Kmita, creative director, and Piotr Nowakowski, lead game designer, knew they wanted to create something that stood out from other titles when they began work on Outriders. The game is a new IP, a return to franchise development for People Can Fly, which recently worked on licensed releases in the Gears of War and Fortnite franchises. The team describes Outriders as an “old school” release with a complete story, rejecting the trend of live service games that feature multiple seasons of rolling content.
“We realized the story will be one of the pillars, the most important thing for us,” Kmita tells VENN. “We were tempted from the get-go of doing this as a live service game, but whenever we thought about service games that we will have to chop [the story] to make some seasons, it’s basically not as good. I thought maybe there is potential to do this the old school way as a whole package.”
One of the unique features in Outriders is its class system, which allows players to choose from one of four character builds (Devastator, Technomancer, Trickster and Pyromancer) each with their own distinct abilities.
“At the beginning, we didn’t have classes at all, but we had the lore behind the alteration physics, which was about radiation, heat and gravity,” says Kmita. “Very soon we realized that the people who were coming and playing the game were lost and didn’t know what to do. They were doing crazy things, but crazy in a bad way. So, how can we help orient people at the beginning of the game? That’s why we invented the classes, because in the beginning of the game they are helping you choose a fantasy.”
Selecting a class is an important step in the gameplay customization process. Outriders was designed to reward aggressive gameplay, but Kmita and Nowakowski don’t want players to feel boxed in to one strategy.
“There’s no single approach to play Outriders,” Nowakowski says. “In general, people like to compare [Outriders] with something they understand and stick with that. We are trying to break that, because a lot of people realize Outriders is a little bit different with a lot of freedom and different approaches.”
“You need to make some choices, and there are tactics in that, but it may be a little different than tactical shooters, slow pace shooters, which is not our game,” says Kmita. “Everything starts in your idea of how you want to play your character. If you are doing everything according to your character and your build, your aggressiveness will be rewarded and you will not die.”
Taking inspiration from classic role-playing titles such as Diablo, Outriders offers a spin on the popular “looter shooter” genre, eschewing live service for a narrative-driven adventure that also supports multiplayer gameplay. Still, fans drew early comparisons between the game and titles such as Destiny and Tom Clancy’s The Division.
“In the beginning everyone was comparing us to some game,” says Kmita. “A lot of titles mentioned,” Nowakowski adds.
“We knew, of course, people will be comparing us to other shooters,” Kmita continues. “For this reason, we decided, let’s give people this demo, maybe they will realize this is not a clone of other games. Looking at how the demo was received, I think we did a good job because now people start to realize, okay, this is not like other games.”
The demo presented the entire first chapter of the campaign, including side quests, with no limits on gameplay.
“[The demo] went quite well for us,” says Kmita. “People we were aiming this game at, they were happy with what we did and we received a lot of feedback. Most of it was positive. The negative things we tried to address. If we hear from our audience a lot, a nice community will start forming around the game, so to be honest we are super happy.”
According to Kmita, players are still downloading the demo even with the game’s launch days away. The team has also noticed player’s choices for their first class have naturally fallen evenly between the four classes.
“Maybe it’s because people are playing every class to test them,” Nowakowski laughs. “ But even if we look at the first choice, it’s surprisingly evenly split between the classes. It really worked, and people are figuring out that even in the demo that you can build the different classes [for specific gameplay styles].”
In the full game, as the story progresses beyond the first chapter of the campaign, players will get to experience more customizable options in armor and weapons, something heavily marketed leading up to the game’s release.
Based on feedback provided in the demo, players can expect a day one patch on the game.
“The fixes here are for the issues that we noticed, some missing equipment and things like that, some crashes, optimization,” Nowakowski says. “On the other hand, the bigger changes that can be easier to spot, we added a lot of options people were asking for. For example, to tweak the camera in the cutscenes, motion blur will still be there but there is an option to turn it off if you feel it’s something that disturbs you and you don’t like it. There will be some improvements, like sorting items and selecting items in your inventory, so if you want to sell all your blue items, for example, you just click the blue and then sell everything.”
Another unique feature of Outriders will be its treatment of cheaters, as the game will brand those caught by adding a permanent on-screen watermark next to the offender’s username.
“Of course, we have a PvE (player vs. environment) game, so the cheating is not as painful as in the PvP (player vs. player) games,” says Nowakowski. “Still, if someone is cheating and you are not, you feel bad about that so from the very beginning we were sure that we needed to address [cheating]. Our general approach was, we aren’t banning [cheaters] from the game, but we are banning them from the community. Our main goal was to separate those who decided to go that way. I feel with the policy that we implemented the number of cheaters will be even less, if not zero, but if so they will be just separated from the others.”
Outriders launches on Thursday on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and PC for $59.99.
Photo courtesy of Square Enix