I spoke with Battlecry‘s Rich Vogel and Lucas Davis about how DLC map packs suck, dedicated servers are so “last century”, and the game’s possible console future.
At PAX Australia this year, I was able to sit down with both Rich Vogel and Lucas Davis – the two big minds behind Bethesda’s upcoming free-to-play hack-and-slash, Battlecry. We talked about the game’s “consumer first” free-to-play model, the death of dedicated servers, and even the hint of a console version in the future.
But first, we talked art. It’s a well-known fact that Viktor Antonov, Dishonored‘s Art Director, would be heading up the visuals of the game (something which was immediately apparent in my hands on time with the game), but did you know Francisco Ruiz-Velasco, the lead concept artist from Pacific Rim was working on the game’s weapons?
“How can we design cool weapons that would have evolved with this no gunpowder rule?”
“We’re really working around the ‘no gunpowder’ rule,” Vogel told me, explaining that the world of Battlecry is one in which gunpowder is banned in warfare. “One of the things we’re really working with Francisco on is ‘how can we design cool weapons that would have evolved with this no gunpowder rule?'” Vogel added that the team was looking outside just video game and movie art styles, and had dipped its toes into graphic novels to produce the cartoony, distinct lines of Battlecry‘s characters.
We then talked a bit about the gameplay itself. From my hands on time with the game, I had questions about the weakness of the Tech Archer, and the fact that battles seemed to last for quite long, without any clear indication of who was winning. “The tech archer is the hardest class to play in the game,” explained Vogel, telling me his role would make a lot more sense once we could play with all five classes. As for the lack of clarity in fights, “This build is actually three months old, so we have a lot more of that in our current build,” said Davis, adding “We got a lot of feedback about that so we really kind of stepped up and worked on that for our current build.”
Speaking of five classes, the two in-progress classes – the Gadgeteer and the Brawler – would of course be present when the game’s Australia and New Zealand exclusive beta launches next year. As for the future? Vogel answered very confidently that more classes will be added to the game as free content instead of paid.[page]
“No we’re not doing that. That separates our playerbase. There’s no f—ing way. I hate that as a player and there’s no way we’re going to do that to ours.”
Both Vogel and Davis really stressed the free nature of the game, stating specifically that real money would only ever be used for cosmetic skins, while any gameplay stuff will either be available to all players from the start, or via the in-game leveling system. When I asked about the possibility of DLC map packs, like Call of Duty or Battlefield 4, Vogel very definitively answered “No we’re not doing that. That separates our playerbase. There’s no f—ing way. I hate that as a player and there’s no way we’re going to do that to ours.”
Battlecry will utilize a player-based leveling system, where players will earn XP as they play, and level up upon hitting milestones, granting them access to new abilities which can be inserted into their loadouts. When I pointed out that this would essentially mean that higher level players have an advantage over lower level players, Vogel wasn’t too worried. He told me that the game’s matchmaking system (which will work in a similar way to League of Legends or World of Tanks), would take care of that disparity.
“Dedicated server farms are so last century.”
While players will be able to make private games that don’t use matchmaking, Battlecry will not feature dedicated servers. The entirety of the game will be hosted on the Amazon cloud, which Vogel says makes it so much easier to deal with. “We are using Amazon cloud because we can be global, we can have servers anywhere Amazon is located. Dedicated server farms are so last century.” The game will, of course, have Oceanic servers.
Lastly, I got a little bit of a hint of a possible console release for the game’s future. I brought up the fact that the PAX Aus demo was playable with a controller, and asked if we would see the game on consoles. “We’re not gonna talk about that,” said Vogel, cryptically, “but we do have controllers, and the game does work great on the controllers… so I’ll leave it at that.”
However, even if the game does come to consoles, don’t expect to be able to play together with your Xbox and PlayStation buddies. “Sony and Microsoft don’t like crossplay,” explained Vogel. “They want to keep everything in their own ecosystem. That’s their walled garden. Think of Disney World.”
Battlecry‘s beta should start kick off some time next year in Australia and New Zealand. We have no word of when it will be coming stateside yet.