Outriders is an extremely interesting proposition – co-op story driven looter shooter game that eschews games as a service trappings to deliver a complete product to customers in one go? The game had initially drawn puzzlement and confusion from players who didn’t know what to make of its marriage of seemingly contradictory and incompatible elements, but the demo that released earlier this month seems to have drawn a lot of eyes to the game, and a lot of positive attention and buzz.
Ahead of the launch of the game later this month, we would like to present this transcript of an interview from a press event that GamingBolt was invited to alongside several other outlets on the eve of the demo’s launch. We discuss a lot of things with the developers of Outriders, including their plans for post-launch content, their focus on the story, what has caused the multiple delays the game has suffered, and more.
So we’ve seen a lot of releases this year and some of these releases haven’t gone according to plan, whether that be due to COVID or other reasons. How is the team preparing Outriders for a successful launch?
So, I wouldn’t like to talk about the other companies, but we can talk from our perspective, and from our perspective, COVID didn’t… it would be easy to say we delayed and we postponed because of COVID, everyone would probably be happy with the answer, but I think that was not true. We were proactively prepared for the change from office work to the remote work, because we are working with different people in different parts of the world.
So we already have the pipelines, we already have the system for it. So COVID was, of course a little bit, but not so big [a] problem [as] for other industries. Overall, we are happy that we are in game development, we had this possibility to move to [working from] home. So that wasn’t a big deal, we basically moved the release day because we hadn’t finished with some crucial things for us that we would have had to fix after release with patches. We decided that it’s not fair for the buyers. 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. So that’s why that’s why there was a decision for us and Square to delay a little bit, to finish the things and prepare the launch to be as successful as possible.
Could you be a bit more specific as to what those things were that you wanted to improve with the delay, with the additional time?
Overall, it was the feel of gameplay and feel of the game; [it was] some small things, not one huge thing, that was missing, and that changed everything. Towards the end of the production, it is hundreds of the small irritations that all together, become an unpleasant experience. So we are trying to remove as much as possible these irritations to give basically the good experience that people will feel, “okay, the game is good.” That was our main goal.
Of course, there were some bigger or smaller adjustments to the already existing features, and some other stuff. But I want to point out that we wanted to basically polish [problems] that we knew there are enough of that the overall experience could be destroyed, and people who would be commenting, “this game is bad, because it is lacking this feeling… as a game, playing it is not fun enough.” Some polishing, bug fixing, adjusting the feel. Some tutorials not being specific enough…
Kind of along several lines. The challenges of developing a cross generational and cross platform game have kind of been in the spotlight since Cyberpunk 2077. Did you run up against similar challenges when developing Outriders and if so, what were they? And how did the team ultimately end up overcoming them?
Well, I don’t know exactly what challenges [CD Projekt RED] had with their game. We see the results, and they were not as expected, but [we are not aware] about the exact things. It’s hard to say, that’s the first thing.
Second, of course, we have our own problems that we need to overcome. And looking at the game as it plays on the consoles right now, I don’t think we have similar challenges to overcome, and the game just works on consoles. [Whether] on the previous gen, on the current one, we are covered. So yeah, I don’t expect as having similar issues like other developers.
Can you possibly talk about the next generation enhancements that you are planning for PS5 and Xbox Series S and X. How will the game be better? Higher frame rate, better graphics?
Yes. We are still working on and trying to make good use of all the functionality that the new generation brings. So there are some things that I can confirm, and some that I don’t want to say right now. From the things that I can confirm, 4K, 60 FPS, that’s something that we should have. And other smaller functionality, like cross saves from PS4 to PS5, Activities used for the Timeline, for example. So the timeline follows the story that players have in game, [such as] trophies with progression, shortcuts, things like that. So those are the things that I can confirm right now. But there are quite a few other things we are working on. But I don’t want to confirm it and promise them for the release.
So that includes haptics for the PS5 controller?
I cannot confirm it.
There is a demo releasing tomorrow. They’re coming to all platforms. Except for Stadia, is that correct? Is it.just not ready and optimized for Stadia yet. Is that why?
We cannot talk about he subject, we are not the correct person to ask about that.
I’d like to follow up on some of your questions about post launch support. Now, you earlier 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 life service game. So I wanted to get some clarification about what approach you’re taking to post launch content. Will they be things like new classes, new locations, raids, that kind of thing.
So in general yet, 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 player. So how they will react, if they will be interested, if we will build a huge player base… we have ideas, of course, but for now, there was nothing we can promise and say, “we are doing things that will come.” So, if people are interested, we have some ideas how to develop it, 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, things like that, something, I think of that comes to mind as the game 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 is Diablo 3, they’ve kind of kept that by kind of 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 kind of extend their playtime a little bit or kind of keep things fresh?
We can adjust the meta, but in general I think that the game is more stable than that. But if [players ask for it], we have to do that. And we are prepared for such cases.
Would you be able to confirm how long an average play-through for Outriders might be?
That depends on what you understand as such, because you can follow just the main story. You can follow the main story on the lowest difficulties, of course, it will last much, much shorter. But for us, the average time played that we are considering is, I play the main story, I’m also interact with side quests. I’m also using the systems to try to find something that fits my skill, my build. So considering that, I would say it’s 20 to 40 hours of gameplay time. But that’s how we are estimating, again, it’s really hard to estimate because if someone is rushing through the content that he already knows, of course, that could be a shorter run. Still, for us, the average, I would say it’s closer to 40 hours.
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 beating the game for a long period of time?
While doing the story, the story component and the systems components are, let’s say, even. So they are equally important. Of course that it’s the DLC part is more focused on the systems, and it’s more focused on challenging yourself and looking for the perfect build, for the items you can gather, for the ideas for your build. And we believe that the endgame content will fit those players who really go deeper into the systems. And the difficulty that goes in expeditions should grant a lot of gameplay time for those who want to reach that final point.
So with expeditions, we believe players should just go! Not just the best items and increasing the numbers, but also, they have a goal. Of course, for some, that goal can be even prolonged that because they will try to achieve better scores in the expeditions, since they are time based. So your time taken can be measured, along with to also collecting all the items. So, there are elements that can be, and I believe will be, interesting for those who want to go deeper and play it longer.
For the endgame content, do you know if the loot is going to be just random? Or is it tied to, for example, specific ask expeditions or specific bosses?
We are not limiting the loot to specific bosses or levels. But it’s limited by the difficulties on which you are grinding. It’s not so much that you need to constantly kill a specific boss over and over to get a specific item, it is trying to reach a certain difficulty. And at that point, you can find that item. So we have gone there with that approach.
Okay, and let’s say you’re playing as a technomancer, will the loot that drops be more for technomancers, or-
Everything that drops, it’s for you. So there are no cases that you will have an item from a different class. So in general, everything that drops, it’s for you. 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 the items that are universal. So those can drop for every class.
Exchanging those items between classes, if you if you decide to have other characters of other classes, and you want them to have that item, we have a stash. So if you find a universal item, and you want to give it a different character you made, you can. You can even trade class-specific items between your characters that have different classes. There is probably no point, because let’s say you find an item as a technomancer that is technomancer specific, and you send it to a devastator character you make, for that character it will have no use. Still, there is crafting in the game, so players may find uses for class-specific items that don’t apply to their characters. They may find some tricky combinations, by exchanging items between classes, and do crazy things, but that’s a very, very long term goal for players who want to dig deep into the– go deeper into the mechanics, and look for such crazy solutions and combinations.
Is there going to be trading between players? Like can you trade items?
Nope, nope, nope. That’s not something we want.
One thing I’ve been wondering about is the ability to play Outriders single player, since all the synergy of the game seems to come from the different players in co-op. Could you describe what the single player experience would be like and how it might differ from the co-op experience?
So first of all, the game can be played solo, as well as multiplayer. It offers different experiences, but both are viable and are fun. Yeah, there are some mechanics that will shine in multiplayer. Still, the way we build our mechanics is building them from pieces. For example, in multiplayer, you have the technomancer, combined with the devastator, and the two can work together to debuff and attack an enemy. Now, in singleplayer, it will be that the player, say playing as a technomancer, will themselves debuff the enemy, and the damage mechanic to the enemy will benefit from that.
Because we are building it that way, even in a single player playthrough, you can combine all these mechanics, you can play with them. So we really believe playing solo will grant you as much fun, with working with the different builds, as you may have in the multiplayer mode. Of course, there are some aspects in multiplayer that are unique, such as reviving downed players or using the team mechanics, stacking DevOps, and so on. So I would say multiplayer just opens more options, sometimes it’s easier because you don’t need to have universal coverage like you would as a single player. As a single player, if you go for the challenges on Impossible and Survival, you need to have universal coverage and be prepared for different enemy types, different combat scenarios, and so on. In multiplayer, I can rely on my friends and say okay, different players fill different roles, and I can focus on specific aspects. So obviously it’s a little bit of a different approach.
Still, both ways are viable. And that was really important for us. And we achieved that, I really feel we achieved that point where both options are available and are fun. So, yep, give it a try as I feel players will be really happy with the decision that we came with.
Can you max your build when the first play-through is there going to take multiple playthroughs in order to do that?
Oh, well the question is, what counts as a single playthrough? Because we have a lot of mechanics and content that repeats, for example, every sidequest is repeatable. So every sidequest, you can repeat as many times as you want, if you’re the person that wants better rewards, sidequests are the places that drop great items. So you may decide okay, I’ll repeat sidequests for better gear. On the the other hand , finishing the campaign helps you climb the heirarchies and grows the difficulty. So it really depends on how we measure that single playthrough. Never repeating the sidequests, never using the timeline tools that can allow you to repeat parts of the game, never dying? My answer is, if we are talking about the perfect single playthrough without repeating parts, I guess it will be hard to complete everything, because there are a lot of items and mods and so on you need to gather. It’s possible in theory if you get super lucky that you end up getting everything you need in your first and only attempt. But when I am talking about a playthrough here, I am talking about playing through the campaign, and then going for the expeditions, because when you finish the campaign like that, I doubt you will already have a finalized build based on Legendary items.
On the other hand, in theory, I can repeat things, spend a lot of time to farm elements, and finish the campaign with some really good builds. Still, in expeditions, you can increase that and make it even better. I know I’m complicating things a a bit, but it’s so many factors that impact that, for me, it’s not easy to answer.
Do you have a favorite class and build yourself?
It varies. One day, I like pyromancer and that is my build, but another day, I’m starting with the technomancer. So here, it’s more or less the preferred way of playing. I’m the guy who likes to play from longer distances. So Devastater and Trickster are harder for me to play because it’s not my mindset. So Pyromancer and Technomancer are my first picks. Still, I met some cool players, with the trickster, for example. And I love it, it’s just a different mindset, different way of playing. And then of course, we have the people in our company who have a completely opposite approach. And they play only Trickster or Devastater. So I’d say all classes are fun, and it really is connected with the approach of how you want to play the game.
The demo is going to attract 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 build that you would recommend to A) people who are new maybe to the genre and want something a little easier to understand, and B) vice versa? Is there a build or subclass that you’d recommend to someone who wants a challenge, and is going to be very rewarding to master?
Yeah, so first of all, our demo will start at the beginning of the game, and it will end at a certain point in the story and the progression of the game. So you will need to be aware that not all the tools for advanced builds will be available. So in the demo, we cannot experience, for example, crafting, because we introduce mechanics over the course of the game, and crafting is introduced later.
So answering your question about builds, I will suggest that at the beginning of the game, just play like you want and challenge yourself and say: Okay, can I build the character that way? But from the point of view of someone who wants to experience endgame builds, it won’t be in the demo. The demo is more to explain what our game is, what our mechanics are, and also what the stories are, that’s the other important thing for us, and what we want to achieve with the demo, too. We want to involve all type of players with our demo and show them different aspects of our game, 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 story driven game or it is a typical shooter. And you want to invite them to the demo and show them the other elements. So there is a story, but look at all these mechanics. Or there is loot, but have a look at the story. But I hope, the players who are interested with game mechanics will see the elements that are there with endgame potential. But it will be hard to experience them in the demo.
So 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 place on narrative in Outriders. Was having a stronger story than loot driven RPGs usually have one of the reasons you wanted to stay away from a games as a service model?
I’m not saying that was the reason. But definitely, having a good story was super important element for us. And that is because of our experience as the player, in games with interesting mechanics, but for some reasons, they are lacking in the story, and we believe it’s super important for games like that. That’s we put a lot of effort into the story component.
I wanted to ask about the lack of in-game chat. At least I’ve read that there is no in-game chat. Right? So a lot of fans are already asking to see if you could add it in the future. Is that something you are discussing, or at least bringing some system, some way for players to communicate?
So definitely, we are aware of that. In fact, we had that element some time ago. But let’s say that from the technical, legal side of things we had to remove it. But definitely we’ll try to figure out something because we fully understand that’s the missing part that should be there. It’s not there because of several different aspects that we need to consider here. But we know it will be helpful. We are aware of this, let’s say that.
There are no microtransactions within the game, what made you decide to go that way versus maybe putting in a battle pass or something similar in that sense?
We decided to go the old school approach, where we are just finishing 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 the game that way, just delivering the whole product. We believe players will like that proposal, that they’re just buying something. Of course, it doesn’t close for us the option in the future to just add a battle pass or other similar content, but not like microtransactions, it would be more like the bigger components that can help those players who want to go deeper into our world, play in that world. But until then, we will have what we have created, and that is enough. Do we want to build on our world and mechanics, sure, but not in the form of microtransactions.
Is there anything there in the demo that players should look out for that you would consider to be well hidden or secret? And just in general, how much can players expect to find, if they go off the beaten path while exploring Enoch?
Well, if it’s hidden, do not want to spoil! While not spoiling, I think some people will be sharing interesting things they found in the demo on forums.