The Outriders demo debuts tomorrow on PC (Steam and GeForce NOW), PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series S|X, featuring cross-play (albeit in beta form, so it'll require players to manually enabled it from the settings) between all these platforms.
Ahead of the release of the demo, we were able to chat with Lead Game Designer Piotr Nowakowski and Creative Director Bartek Kmita of developer People Can Fly during a roundtable interview. Topics ranged from the reasons behind the slight delay (Outriders was originally scheduled to launch in February but has since been pushed to April 1st when it'll come out on Google Stadia as well) to the studio's 'old-school' approach to post-launch content, the endgame mechanics and loot systems, next-generation enhancements and more.
Enjoy reading the full transcript below.
Why did you delay Outriders?
Bartek Kmita (Creative Director): We basically moved the release date because we hadn't finished with some crucial things for us that the release would be jeopardized. Of course, we could have released Outriders anyway, but then we would have had to fix the game after the launch with some patches, and we decided that it's not fair for the players. We want to release the whole package altogether as we are asking money for it, so we have to do our best to basically deliver as finished a product as possible. That's why there was a decision from us and Square Enix that we had to delay the launch to finish the things and prepare the launch to be as successful as possible.
[WCCFTECH] Just wanted to ask if you can be a bit more specific as to what those things were that you wanted to improve in Outriders with the delay, with the additional development time that you had.
Bartek Kmita (Creative Director): The overall feel of the gameplay and feel of the game is very often a sum of small things. There was no huge thing that was missing, rather it was basically hundreds of small 'irritations' that altogether could sum up as an unpleasant experience. So we are trying to remove those as much as possible to give people the best possible experience. Of course there were some bigger and smaller adjustments to the already existing features, but I would mostly point out that we wanted to basically polish things that we knew could make the game feel lacking to the players. We knew why it would be the case, it was many small things that we needed to finish and deliver in a better form because otherwise altogether they weren't working correctly.
Can you possibly tell us about the next generation enhancements that you are planning for Outriders on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S|X? Will they include higher framerate and/or better graphics?
Piotr Nowakowski: That's something we are still working on and trying to make good use of all the new functionalities that the new consoles allow, though not everything will be there from the beginning. There are some things that I can confirm and others I don't want to say right now. Because they may be not there on the release. I can confirm 4K@60 FPS, and other smaller functionalities such as the PlayStation 5 activities, for example. Also, the touchpad is used for navigation, menus, shortcuts, things like that, those are things that I can confirm right now as I saw them working. I know there's quite a few other stuff we are working on, but I don't want to promise them for the release.
I'm assuming that includes the haptics features for the PS5's DualSense controller?
Piotr Nowakowski: I cannot confirm it right now.
I'd like to follow up on some of your questions about post-launch support. Earlier, you said that you are striving to have the game be complete content complete when it comes out. You previously said you're not going to make it a live service game, so I wanted to get some clarification about what approach you're taking to post-launch content. Will there be things like new classes, new locations, raids, that kind of thing?
Piotr Nowakowski: In general, our goal was to deliver the complete package for the release and when talking about the things that may come later, it really depends on the players. How they will react, if they will be interested, if we will build a huge player base, we have the ideas, of course, but for now, there's nothing we can promise and say we are doing things that will kill him. If people will be interested, then we have some ideas on how to develop it further. But it's more like adding new elements than adding the things that are missing from the game that we have right now.
Along those same lines, putting aside the larger scale stuff like DLC or new classes, Diablo 3 comes to mind as something that wouldn't really be considered a service game by many but does have a large player base that's retained for a long time. They've kept that by tweaking the meta for builds along with seasonal characters and leaderboard resets. Would the Outriders team consider anything along those lines, if players are vocal about wanting something to extend their playtime a little bit and keeping things fresh?
Piotr Nowakowski: We have tools for that. We can adjust the meta if need be. People may decide 'Okay, we are done because we already found out the perfect build that will override everything'. I don't think we're going to have issues like that, because we are still balancing and iterating. But if so, we have tools to do that and we are prepared for such cases.
You have announced Expeditions as the kind of post-campaign content that's meant to challenge players. Can you discuss a bit about how the team designed Expeditions to be something that can continue to entertain players even after being in the game for a long period of time?
Piotr Nowakowski: While during the campaign in Outriders the story and the system components are evenly important, Expeditions are more focused on the systems of course, on challenging yourself and looking for the perfect build but perfect for that moment. We believe that endgame content will fit those who really go deeper into the systems. The difficulty that goes in Expeditions should grant a lot of gameplay time for those who want to reach that final point, the Eye of the Storm that we have, because we believe Expeditions need some good goal, not just to get the best items and increase the characters' stats, but also an actual goal. Of course, for some, that goal can be even prolonged because they will try to achieve better scores in the Expeditions. They are time-based, so your time can be measured against others and there's also collecting all the items, so there are elements that can and I believe will be interesting for those who want to go deeper and play longer.
[WCCFTECH] Talking about endgame content in Outriders, I'm wondering if the loot is going to be just random or is it tied to specific Expeditions or even specific bosses.
Piotr Nowakowski: We are not limiting the loot to specific bosses or levels. It's limited by the difficulties of the Tiers you are climbing. And because some of the maps in the Expeditions are limited by World Tier, there is in fact some kind of connection. But it's not so that you need to constantly kill a specific boss over and over to because you're looking for the item, it's about reaching a certain difficulty and, at that point, you can find that item. We are going with that approach.
[WCCFTECH] Okay, and let's say you're playing a Technomancer, will you drop loot for other classes as well?
Piotr Nowakowski: Everything that drops, it's for you. There are no cases that you will get an item from a different class. There are items that are Technomancer specific, of course, but if you are playing a different class, you will not experience that. There are also items that are universal. So there can be drops for every class. Exchanging items between classes, if you decide to have alternate characters and want to exchange those items, there is such a possibility through the shared stash. So if you find a universal item and want to give it to a different character, you can. You can even give that specific item to a different character. There's probably no point because it would not be so useful for another class. Still, there's crafting, so you can swap the item's mods. Players may find some tricky combinations where they exchange items between classes and do crazy things but that's a very, very long-term goal for players who want to dig deep into mechanics and look for such crazy solutions and combinations.
[WCCFTECH] Is there going to be trading between players? Can you trade items?
Piotr Nowakowski: Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope. That's not something we want.
One thing I've been wondering about is the ability to play in single player as all the synergy of the game seems to come from different players and co-op. Could you describe what the single player experience would be like and how it might differ from the co-op experience?
Piotr Nowakowski: The game can be played solo and multiplayer and offers a little bit of a different experience. Both are viable and are fun. There are some mechanics that will shine in multiplayer; still, the way we create our mechanics is by building them from pieces. It's not like we made an assumption that for example a Technomancer combined with the Devastator will create that specific effect, so we are supporting that combination of classes. It's rather, that guy will debuff the enemy, and then the Devastator mechanics will benefit from that. Because we are building it that way, even in a single player environment, you can take advantage of that mechanics. We really believe playing as a solo will grant you as much fun working with the builds as you may have in the multiplayer. Of course, there are some aspects that are unique for the multiplayer side of Outriders such as reviving others or using the healing mechanics that benefit everyone in the team, etc.
So, I will say, multiplayer just opens more options. Sometimes it's easier because you don't need to be as universal. In multiplayer, I can rely on my friends and say 'Okay, in that case, you will fulfill that role. And I can focus on different aspects'. So I will say, it's a little bit different approach. Still, both ways are viable and that was really important for us because we as players wanted to have a game where one day, you might really feel the mood for playing alone and another day you are gathering good friends, playing together and want to switch to that gameplay. I really feel we achieved that point where both options are available and are fun. Give it a try as I feel players will be really happy with the decision that we came with.
Can you max your character build with the first playthrough or is it going to take multiple playthroughs of Outriders in order to do that?
Piotr Nowakowski: We have a lot of mechanics that allow repeating parts of the content. Every side quest is repeatable, you can repeat them as many times as you want, so if you're the person that wants to get good items, side quests are the places that give you good rewards. So you may decide, okay, I'll repeat that content for better gear. And so, it slows down the time when you will finish the campaign. On the other hand, it helps you with the climbing of the World Tier. If you are talking about a perfect single playthrough without repeating parts, I guess it will be hard to complete everything because there is a lot of items, mods, elements that you need to gather. In theory, it's possible if you're super lucky. Again, when I'm talking about the playthrough, I'm talking about finishing the campaign and then going for the whole Expeditions, because when you finish the campaign I doubt you will already have a set based on legendary items. On the other hand, in theory, I can repeat content early, spend a lot of time on farming elements and finish the campaign with a really good high-level build. Still, in the Expeditions, you can increase that and make it better.
The demo is going to attract new people who are either hardcore fans of the genre, or maybe just are just trying it out, because it looks cool, since it's free to try at least for now. My question is, is there a bill that you would recommend to people who are new maybe to the genre, and want something a little easier to understand? And vice versa? Is there a build or subclass that you'd recommend to someone who wants a challenge, and it's gonna be very rewarding to master?
Piotr Nowakowski: First of all, our demo will start at the beginning of the game. It will end up at a certain point in the story also in the progression in the game. You need to be aware that it will be the beginning and not all the tools for advanced builds will be there, so you cannot experience that. For example, an important mechanic that's not there is crafting. Crafting is one of those mechanics that came a little bit later, unfortunately, from my point of view, because as you may already realize, I'm a player who goes deep into the game's systems. So from my point of view, it's a pity that the players will not experience that. On the other hand, that would be really overwhelming if we were dropping all that mechanics in the Outriders demo. So answering your question, what builds I will suggest, at the beginning of the game just to play as you want and challenge yourself to say 'Okay, can I build the character that way?' And I believe the options are still there, though unfortunately limited in the demo. So from the point of view of someone who wants to experience endgame builds, it won't be so easy in the demo, because we had to cut the scope. It's more about explaining what our game is, how important the mechanics are, but also how important the stories are. That's the other important thing for us. What we want to achieve with the demo is to invite all types of players and show them different aspects of Outriders, because there are players who want to just have an easy comparison and say 'Yeah, it's a game like a looter shooter or it's a story-driven game or is a typical shooter'. We want to invite them to the demo and show 'Okay, look at the other elements. There is a story but also the mechanics, look at them, they are really interesting and appealing'. I hope the players who are interested in the endgame mechanics will see the elements that are there. But it will be hard to experience them in the demo.
One thing I was wondering about was actually the story and narrative which you just brought up. Given the structure of loot games and how you've described the structure of Outriders. I wanted to know how much of an emphasis you placed on that in Outriders. Was having a stronger story than loot driven RPGs usually have one of the reasons you wanted to stay away from the games as a service model?
Piotr Nowakowski: I don't think it's connected with games as a service. But definitely having a good story was a super important element for us. Also, because of our experiences as players, there are games with interesting mechanics, maybe not as deep as what we have here. But for some reason, they are lacking on the story side, and we believe it's super important for a game like this. That's why we put a lot of effort into the story of Outriders.
[WCCFTECH] I wanted to ask about the lack of in-game chat. Many fans are already asking to see if you could add it in the future. Is that something you are discussing, or at least a ping system as some way to communicate?
Piotr Nowakowski: Yeah, definitely. We are aware of that. In fact, we had that element some time ago. But then technical, legal things happened. But definitely, we will try to figure out something because we fully understand that's the missing part that should be there. But yeah, it's not there, but it's not because of design decisions, but different other aspects that we needed to consider. We are aware, let's say, about that aspect.
There are no microtransactions within Outriders. What was the choice to decide to go that way versus maybe putting in a Battle Pass or something similar?
Piotr Nowakowski: Well, I will say we decided to go the old school approach where we were just doing the game and giving it to the players, not thinking about the microtransactions, game passes and things like that. At some point, it was easier for us to think about our game that way. Just delivering the whole product. We are calling that the old-school approach. We are aware that most games right now approach that differently but we believe players will like that approach. Of course, it doesn't close for us the option in the future to just add content but not like a microtransaction or game passes, more like the bigger components that can come if players will be interested want to go deeper into our world, play in that world. We love what we have created and Enoch is the world that we want to build on and add additional elements for that, but not as a form of microtransactions or game passes. It's just a different mindset when we think about the game.
Thank you in advance.