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E3 2019

Making a Multiplayer Game For Solo Players to Enjoy — An Interview With Zombie Army 4 Developer Rebellion

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During the PC Gaming Show at E3, developer Rebellion Developments announced the fourth entry to the Sniper Elite spin-off series, Nazi Zombie Army with Zombie Army 4: Dead War. OnlySP had the opportunity to play the game behind closed doors and speak with game’s lead designer Ryan Baker.

The interview focused on what single-players can expect in a game that also has a heavy multiplayer component.

OnlySP: What are some of the key differences for a solo player?

Baker: For a solo player, one of the main differences really is, because you don’t have people there to help you out when situations turn bad, you get much more of that horror feel to the game because the hordes are there coming towards you, you can get backed into a corner a lot easier and it’s generally a bit more tense and scarier to be honest. It is not as frantic as the co-op version and it feels like a different game in some respects because of that in a very good way.

OnlySP: Can you talk about what some of those key differences may be?

Baker: Gameplay wise, all mechanics are the same. You’re not going to be reviving other people because there’s nobody to do that to but, other than that, all the actual gameplay is exactly the same between solo play and co-operative.

OnlySP: Anything about the campaign you can tell me about?

Baker: We’re not going into specifics on how many levels we have, but throughout the levels you will be working from safe room to safe room. The levels are much larger than we had in previous games. [The game] is still mostly linear, but between those safe rooms some of the areas are quite open so you’ll have a bit more freedom of movement. There’s various enemy types: there’s a big cast of enemies this time around and some you’ll have to deal with in different ways depending on the location. Sometimes, if you’re in a tight corridor, they can be particularly difficult to deal with and other times you’ll be in a large open space and it’s a different kind of playstyle.

Zombie Army 4 gameplay screenshot 6

OnlySP: You said that in multiplayer that you have people to revive you, is there anything in single player to counteract that?

Baker: There’s a whole perk system so there’s a load of perks you can unlock from either ranking up or some are unlocked by completing specific challenges related to the type of perk it is and one of those perks is the second chance perk which can be used even if you’re in co-operative as well if you think your partners aren’t going to be particularly helpful. It’s almost vital in solo [play]. If you do get knocked down, you can kill an enemy to get back up again. And [the perk] can be upgraded several times as well so if you get to the higher tier of that, you’ll get to do that twice in between safe rooms. Once you get to the next safe room, it’ll reset again.

OnlySP: Do you know about how many perks are available in the game?

Baker: We’re not going into specific numbers, but there’s a lot of perks. We’ve got a lot of perks and each perk has three levels. Some will increase what they’re already doing, others will add new abilities into that perk and you can combine what perks you want to create the kind of class you want to play as. You can focus more on the traps area or be more of a heavy gunner if you want to pick the perk that allows you to rip heavy weapons off their mounts and then you can walk around with them and mow down zombies everywhere.

Zombie Army 4 gameplay screenshot 5

OnlySP: How has the gameplay evolved since the last couple of games?

Baker: So the main evolution is the variety of ways you’ve got to take out the all different zombies. There is a huge choice now. We’ve expanded on our melee abilities. So you can knock enemies back and after a while you can charge up a special melee attack, we’ve got various melee attacks for you to choose, and they will allow you to perform a devastating move, such as the electric punch. When you hit a zombie, you’ll send them flying through the air and they’re electrified and it’ll burst and that can be upgraded as well so it won’t hit just the one zombie; it’ll also send out some arcs and hit other nearby zombies knocking them to the ground and you can get up close and stomp on them.

We’ve also got takedowns this time around as well. If you manage to get a 10-kill combo, you get close to a zombie and you’ll stab him in the head or some other gruesome move and you’ll make other nearby zombie flinch back which gives you a little bit of breathing room, bit of time, but you’ll also recharge a little bit of your health. It’s a bit of a risk/reward thing because if you’re playing well getting combos then you got to get close, kill a zombie, a get a little bit of health back.

OnlySP: About how long is the campaign?

Baker: We’re not going to details, I’m afraid, on that one just yet.


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E3 2019

Biomutant is Vibrant, Unique, and a Hell of a Lot of Fun

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biomutant

THQ Nordic had a bevy of games available to play on the show floor at this year’s E3. While some attendees eagerly lined up to play Darksiders Genesis (as our own Michael Cripe did), others sought to finally get their hands on Experiment 101’s highly unique Biomutant for a hands-on, 30-minute demo. Thankfully, Biomutant’s E3 demo is more than enough proof that the will end up being something truly special.

After selecting their preferred language, players were given the option to recode their mutant’s DNA, serving as Biomutant’s version of a character customizer. The customization options were satisfying. A circle graph appears on the screen with five key skills the player must find their preferred balance between: strength, agility, intellect, charisma, and vitality. A sixth skill, luck, was also present, but it was not one that the player could influence from the circle graph. This graph not only influences the player’s mutant’s skills but it also directly changes the mutant’s appearance.

Other customization options included determining the mutant’s fur length and primary and secondary colors. Once these options were set, the demo thrusts the player into a mission that begins with riding a hot air balloon  while the narrator speaks of the excitement of an adventure. Enemies begin firing to bring down the hot air balloon and the player is dropped into the action.

Biomutant

The world of Biomutant immediately pops, as the colors were sharp and invoked thoughts of Ratchet &Clank with a slightly more comic-book style. The visuals reflected the conditions of the area, too, with vibrant reds representing intense heat being a memorable example. The first thing that stood out about this sequence was how great the combat felt. Similarly to Insomniac’s Spider-Man and Rocksteady’s Arkham series, sliding through an enemy’s legs while kicking, punching, and shooting felt tight and familiar. In some instances, the game slowed down when a knockout blow was dealt, which was a nice cinematic touch.

Progressing forward saw the player in an area with additional enemies with a larger, more intimidating foe acting as the main objective. This section introduced the Super Wushu attack, which varies depending on the equipped weapon. The most rewarding of these attacks was with the Klonk Fist which was obtained later in the demo. The Klonk Fist offered huge gauntlets that could pummel multiple enemies by mashing the action button.

The key to unlocking the Super Wushu attack involves stringing together combos which felt fairly easy to do. I do not recall ever losing my combo to an enemy attack, as I obtained the special attack fairly often. The combat allowed for those who wished to mash the melee or firing button but also rewards the players who are more tactical in their combos while mixing in shooting with melee attacks.

Biomutant

With the tutorial for the demo out the way, the game continues by having the player go to a different part of the planet. This new area showcased the vibrant greens and life that contrasted the overheated reds from the previous area. After some platforming, the demo descends the player down into the world where Gizmo the Greasemonkey resides.

Biomutant NPC dialogue is spoken by the narrator from the beginning of the demo while the player’s character makes vague sounds during the conversation. This exchange felt a bit underwhelming for the action-RPG as options did not hold any consequences for how the next section plays out and can be skipped without missing out on much of the story or mission objective.

After descending down and exiting an elevator shaft, the player enters a dark, oil-spilt area. The color palette here reflected the same pop to its visuals as the other sections. A mech suit, which was required to clean up the oil, controlled fine, though combat definitely felt better out of the mech suit than in it.

A final enemy awaited which served as the boss fight for the mission. This fight contained three phases with the enemy adding a new attack method from in the second. The third phase, however, took place inside the creature. After taking him down from the inside, the planet’s Tree of Life becomes more alive as indicating a reversal of destitute for the planet.

The demo confirmed the anticipation OnlySP had for Biomutant. The combat felt great and the visuals really popped. THQ Nordic and Experiment 101 may something special on their hands if the rest of the game plays as the demo did.

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