Outriders Interview – Over 60 Hours of Story Content and Endgame Ready at Launch
Outriders, the first new game developed by People Can Fly since splitting with Epic Games, is kicking its marketing up a notch as it gets closer to this Holiday's release window when the game will be made available on PC, PlayStation and Xbox consoles (cross-generation).
Today, the developers and publishers Square Enix released a new feature video presenting an in-depth look at the campaign, side-quests, companions and travel system of this third-person shooter/RPG game set in the mysterious world of Enoch.
Ahead of this new footage, we got the chance to speak with Bartosz Kmita (Game Director) and Szymon Barchan (Narrative Designer) from People Can Fly about this huge project for the studio, which their CEO previously said to have become much more ambitious over time than the original pitch.
How did People Can Fly fare during the COVID-19 era?
It's always a challenge to change from working from the office to everyone at home. The good thing is that we had already established some of the pipelines because we have different studios in different parts of the world, with different time zones. We had to have the communication channel, an infrastructure that is able to be downloaded in different parts of the world, or the security things already established. Somehow this conversion from the office to home was quite small for us. Of course, there were a couple of hard days for the IT department and some people had to adjust to it, but overall, I think it was smoother for us than for other companies who don't have outsource experience or different studios in different places in the world.
To be honest about our industry, we can't complain because we have this possibility to at least do the move to work from home. Not everyone has this luxury.
So there was no noticeable delay in the development of Outriders?
No, no, there was no delay. Sometimes we even think that some people work harder while at home, so no, we haven't changed plans. It wasn't any kind of big impact on us.
When playing Outriders alone, will players be able to count on AI companions?
It's only your character when playing solo. If you want to have companions, you have to join your friends, but we don't have a system for AI companions. If you are playing solo, you are alone in the world of Outriders. You can play the whole game from the beginning till the end as a single player or cooperative experience, freely dropping in and dropping out at any moment you want. So you can switch between those very easily.
Do you have a scaling system when players of different 'levels' join up to play together?
The difficulty will be adjusted according to the number of players in the session. We also have the system called World Tiers and it's up to the players to decide what to do. If the weaker player is going to the better player's World Tier to play on the more challenging content or the better player is going to the weaker player's World Tier help him get through some content. Players can adjust that manually, the World Tiers and the difficulty, but we are not doing a system that will basically make content automatically scaled out to the weaker player. We don't want that.
We think that in this kind of game you are playing to reach the harder content, so you have to earn to go there. We don't want to basically scale it for the weaker player if they are not ready to be there. At the same time, we wanted to make it possible for any players to join. If your friend just joined Outriders and you already know most of it, we don't want to create any problems between you playing together.
How does unlocking new World Tiers work in Outriders?
There's a total of 15 World Tiers. Let's say you have unlocked World Tier 5 as your maximum tier. When you are playing on your maximum World Tier, then the game is checking your progress. You are earning points for playing at this level. If you are not dying, at some point the game will promote you to World Tier 6, though you're not forced to play at World Tier 6. Let's say you are half hungover and you don't want to challenge yourself, you can even go back to World Tier one and play only for the story.
When you are playing on these lower tiers, though, you cannot earn points to unlock the next one.
Can you be 'demoted' if you play badly?
No, you cannot be demoted. Once you've unlocked a World Tier, it's yours. Of course, the rewards are going to be weaker on the lower tiers, but it's up to you to choose what kind of challenge you wish to endure.
Will there be a 'transmogrification' system to allow players to change their currently equipped armor's look to another of their liking?
Yeah, no. At the release of Outriders, there will be not transmogrification yet. Maybe we will add it later, but not on the release date.
You specifically pointed out that Outriders won't be a 'game as a service' release. What exactly do you mean by that?
We simply want to give players a fully finished product on day one. By finished product, I mean that we are giving you the full story that is not chopped into chapters or side activities. The end game content will be already there. You will know what you are paying for. This doesn't mean that, if people will like the game and they want to keep playing, we won't produce additional content for them, it just means that we are not having this game as a service system and monetization in our heads. But we think about creating interesting worlds and we would love to add more stories, more adventures for the players, and if they want to stay for sure we will keep them interested, just with a different model. Not every game has to be a game as a service with daily routines or stuff like that.
Are you planning any kind of endgame content for bigger groups than the default size (three players)?
We'll be talking about the endgame in Outriders later this year, but the whole content at launch is for three players at max. Whatever we will do later, there's always a possibility for it, but right now it's for one to three players.
How long do you expect it will take to complete the storylines?
It will depend on your playstyle actually, but it'll probably take around 20 hours just to get through the main campaign. We have a lot of side activities, side quests. If you would also like to fully explore those, then you will get double that, so probably up to 40 hours. Then there's the end game content, which we are not discussing today but it's also an additional up to 20 hours, I believe.
It depends on what kind of player you are. That's from the perspective of the story, but when you have the goal to grind components and looking for the perfect build, then looking for a load, that's when totally different timeframes open and this time will be multiplied a lot.
In terms of combat, would you say Outriders leans more on the shooting or on the superpowered skills?
It actually depends fully on the player to decide if you want to go more into a skills approach and use covers less and be more upfront and personal, or you could use covers more and play it more like a cover shooter basically. A mix of both also works, actually, as we put a lot of effort into ensuring that the levels can support all the types of player approach to the combat. We wanted this for the players to decide, depending on their play style. It's up to you from the start.
I think that the ratio is roughly fifty-fifty at the start. Skills are not just an addition to shooting, they're core mechanics, but through the items dropped and the skill trees unlocked you will be able to decide in which direction you want your character to go.
Is there a class that fits the support role?
We are not forcing you to play within the 'Holy Trinity' (Tank, Damage dealer, Support), but you can create every class in a different manner. Even if you think that this class looks like an assassin archetype from the onset, it doesn't mean that you cannot make it like a tank or like a supportive role through your items and skill trees. Again, it's about giving options to the player, and they can decide if they need support, or maybe they can try with three DPS or even three tanks. That's up to you, how you would approach the content in our game. We are giving you the tools.
You will able to build different setups, but our goal was that each player has to feel powerful. Whatever class you pick, it's not like you have like a setup role and you cannot be in the front line, dealing with damage, et cetera. We wanted for each class, each player to individually feel like 'Okay, I'm the man. I'm ruling this.'
How important is it to synergize with your fellow teammates in terms of builds et cetera?
If you are going to try harder, more challenging content, you have to start thinking about your colleagues, what kind of skills and synergies you will use, and how would your team setup look like. You may find out that certain sets and skills, they'll be working nicely with those types of enemies and less so with others.
Will there be a 'respec' cost' as in many other games in Outriders?
There won't be any cost so you can play with it and you can find your most optimal playstyle. We are really encouraging people to find their way of playing, to have fun with the different options of the skill trees, and find out what is working best for you. But this is all inside the one class, if you want to create the other class, you'll have to create a new character and finish the content an additional time.
There's no PvP in Outriders, right? What about leaderboards or other ways to compete?
You're right, we're not planning any PvP mode right now. We will see what will happen in the future.
Fair enough. Any final comments?
We're happy that you can finally play the game soon. We've been really working hard for the last four years, and finally, we can show it. We're happy that we can finally show Outriders, we are quite confident that people who like shooters and RPGs will be enjoying the game a lot.
Thank you for your time.