Outriders New Horizon Primer and Dev Q&A – ‘We Don’t Regret Not Doing GaaS’

Outriders New Horizon

It's now official: Outriders is getting the huge and free New Horizon update tomorrow, featuring four new Expeditions, the removal of the timer requirement for all Expeditions, a Transmog system that lets players swap a weapon or armor skin with another they already own at will, an overhaul to Tiago's Expeditions store (which now allows players to spend some resources and reroll a particular item drop's attributes), and a balancing pass for Classes, Skills, and Mods.

But that's not all, as the drop rate of Legendary items was increased by 100% across the board; an anti-duplication system will reduce the likelihood of getting items players already have; many fixes were made to crossplay (which includes Google Stadia, at long last), disconnections during coop sessions, various bugs, and more.

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Square Enix also teased a full expansion titled Worldslayer coming next year, though we'll have to wait next Spring to learn more about that.

The preview and interview session we attended earlier this month, where Outriders proved to be as fun as ever, was squarely focused on New Horizon, easily the game's largest update to date. You can check out footage of all that below, showing each one of the new Expeditions (Molten Depths, City of Nomads, The Marshal's Complex, and The Wellspring). We've also got the full transcript of a group Q&A with People Can Fly Lead Game Designer Piotr Nowakowski, Creative Director Bartek Kmita, and Balance Game Designer Łukasz Osiński.

The Outriders launch didn't go as smoothly as it could have, to say the least. What happened there? 

Bartek Kmita: Yeah, from a technical point of view the launch was not the best. We were happy with the number of people that joined us in the first days, but unfortunately, we were not prepared for this amount. We did the demo earlier to fix all the issues with the servers to fold the potential use of other servers. We did the demo to pick for their shell of the potential bugs.

We were very happy with the state of the game and the servers. But during the launch of Outriders, the number of people surprised us and unfortunately it caused some problems. It took us quite a long time to even realize what was happening because our game is very complicated and there were a lot of different vendors working on the back end and on the server side. I can totally understand that the players were pissed off because they paid for the product they wanted to play, but they couldn't. So, of course, I'm sorry about that. We did what we could do to fix it.

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Finally, we did, but it took too much time, so the launch was not as awesome as it could have been, but we learned something. We are still working on Outriders and now the New Horizon is like the outcome of it. Now we are quite ready to polish more, add more stuff to Outriders and New Horizon is our first step.

[Wccftech] What's the one thing you would have done differently ahead of the Outriders launch, in hindsight?

Bartek Kmita: Definitely, we would fix earlier the problems we had on the server side. I don't want to go too technical on what we had to fix and what we had to change to not have the problems with sign-in or with some huge bugs like for example the inventory wipe, which was something of a disaster for us. We would do everything possible to prevent this situation. We learned a lot over there. We'll do everything in our power to prevent this kind of stuff in the future.

The first Outriders balance patch nerfed a lot of things, which angered the community. Why did you do that?

Piotr Nowakowski: First of all, when the demo went live and a lot of people started playing, we were watching everything that was happening there, looking at how players reacted. A lot of feedback from the demo came and we wanted to address as much as possible, we wanted to squeeze all the changes in a short period of time. One change that we introduced connected with bullet skills and that in our opinion opened a new branch of builds and it was mentioned by their players. We haven't had enough time to test all of those, in fact, there was a hole in the system that allowed bullet skills to skyrocket with efficiency. And that was so significant that it would kill all the other builds, so we just needed to go with that particular change, the change for the bullet skills. Our intention was not to nerf everything down, but that one element was just visibly too overpowered, and changing everything to catch with that level was not doable in a very short period of time. That was why we started our balancing with that nerf.

Łukasz Osiński: I think you touched on a very important subject that it was the start of a process and we go through the process but for the next few months with increasing buffing and increasing the build diversity. New Horizon is delivering also a number of balance changes to the armor sets and legendary set bonuses. The good thing is that with the engagement of the community and tracking our data that is flowing from the live game, we were able to determine which elements could use a bit of love and we had the time and occasion to put it there. All in all, I feel that Outriders is in a much better place than it was during and after release, so it's a good time to get back in and see how it plays.

At one point, some Outriders players were griefing others by kicking them from sessions and expeditions at the very end, in the final few seconds before you got to the drop pod. How did you fix that?

Piotr Nowakowski: From the data we had, the issue wasn't so massive; still, if any single person is affected by that behavior, then it's something we want to address and we are doing that, we limit that the possibility to just kick others from the team when on the final stage.

It's up to the players to not behave like that, but because we see that issue, we are trying to react and help to avoid even the possibility of doing such behaviors.

Can you talk a bit more about how you are making legendary loot drops and legendary farming much more fun and actually engaging for the players in New Horizon?

Mateusz Kirstein: I think the best part is the no timers, so you can take time and leisure and go through the challenges. We rebalanced the rewards from the challenges to be more in line with the time you spend in them, so the longer challenges will simply be more rewarding. The second thing that I believe many players will find is the Tiago shop. Now you can reroll the inventory or you can go for a random legendary if that's what suits you. From the initial release we also removed any level restrictions that could arrive on gear, so now if you want to find those legendary hats or gloves or whatever else that you need, there is no level requirement of enemies to face.

And finally, I'd say that the Eye of the Storm, the final challenge, has a fun new mechanic, allowing you to pick one of the three just before receiving extra rewards from the drop pod. All of that is making sure that you have more access, more variety in the loot you see, and a bit of control through the Tiago shop.

What about a new class or a beginning of a new story?

Bartek Kmita: For New Horizon, we're rather focusing on adding to the vanilla game, our must-haves, and fixing the stuff we talked about with the community. That is what our focus was.

New stories, new loot, this will be coming in the future, but right now we're not talking about that. With New Horizon, we are not touching these aspects. Right now we are focusing on fixing, balancing, adding some stuff like transmogrification for example, but that was rather something we wanted to have in the vanilla release of Outriders, so that's why we are adding it in now.

We are not stopping working on the game, so yes, all the things you mentioned will be coming at some point.

Piotr Nowakowski: New Horizon sums up all the balancing and the fixing work that we did after the release. We received a lot of feedback on technical issues, balance issues, but also some features that were most asked by the players like the Transmog and that's the goal for New Horizon.

We can say, yeah, that's the fixed version. That's a really improved version of Outriders, plus some additional content, those four expeditions, transmog that was mentioned, and the Tiago shop functionality. It's more about improving the depth of the Outriders experience.

[Wccftech] Do you regret not making Outriders a 'game as a service', especially given that many players had complained about the lack of content prior to New Horizon?

Bartek Kmita: No, no we are not regretting that. I think that would be a different game with different problems, some things maybe would work better, some things maybe would work worst. We wanted to do this game, this is how we have done it and now we are not regretting it.

What can lapsed Outriders players do to catch up?

Łukasz Osiński: The curve didn't basically move because we didn't add any new difficulty level, so if you want to experience the new content, one of the challenges is open from the beginning. The other one requires you to reach Challenger Tier 4, which is not that high. We also lowered the level of items that you can buy from Tiago's shop, so you can use it earlier. You can farm the drop pod resources from easy challenges and this way you can catch up with some of the gear so you can boost your character.

Additionally, from what I remember, we are granting through the Community service a single legendary armor piece, which may just be the armor piece you need to complete the set or not. Depending on what happens, you will still get a tier 3 mod for your class. That should be a mod that you shouldn't have already seen or acquired earlier, so there are some incentives, but as the curve didn't really move, we didn't feel that there is a lot of things we need to do to bring up all the players that have left their characters earlier.

How expensive is the Tiago reroll?

Łukasz Osiński: From the top of my head, if you have a full set of drop pod resources you should be able to do it around 11 times. It will be an extra item after Eye of the Storm, but it shouldn't be a cheap way to just cheat your way into the God gear.

Piotr Nowakowski: It's not replacing the main source of the items, so trying to find the item, trying to drop the item is still the primary way I would say. But if you are unlucky, you are collecting the resources but you are unlucky and not finding the item that you need, then Tiago increases the chances, it's an additional way to collect those.

[Wccftech] Did you make any improvements to the matchmaking system? That was one of the main issues during the first few weeks in Outriders, especially once you enabled cross-play functionality.

Piotr Nowakowski: I know that our tech team is focusing on that and quite a few improvements already happened there, so check how it works. It should be significantly improved, even with cross-play factored in.

Thank you for your time.

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