Q: What sets BattleCry apart?
Rich Vogel: BattleCry is an action combat game and we haven’t really seen anything like this on the market yet. Basically, it’s taking inspiration from Team Fortress 2, God of War, Devil May Cry, and Arkham Asylum, and putting it in a multiplayer setting. We haven’t seen [these sorts of] action-type combat games in a multiplayer setting, so we developed this game for that purpose.
It’s basically 16v16 in arena-based combat. The setting is about 1914, which is what we call the Age of Empires. We have two factions announced (the British and the Cossacks) and there will be three in the game eventually.
We have five classes, each of which has a different role just like Team Fortress 2. We have the Enforcer which is kinda like your tank, a Duellist who is your assassin who comes in quickly and attacks, Tech Archer which is like your ranged class, the Brawler which is in-your-face combat, and the Gadgeteer which is a support class who can lay traps and mines. Each has a specific role.
At PAX we had an objective-based arena which is similar to Domination in that you have control points you have to defend, except with ours we move the control points around, so it allows people to attack both tactically and strategically. It’s very easy to pick up and play, and you can play with keyboard or controllers. Right now we’re PC only, and launching in AU and NZ as our beta. It’s a good market for us as there’s a lot of very good gamers here.
Q: You’ve just listed a number of games with combo-based combat. Is that how the combat works in BattleCry?
Rich Vogel: There are several different abilities you have – three abilities you can use on the screen, plus adrenaline which you earn by the amount of kills you have. It can be used in the game at any point, but you only get to use it a certain amount of times, kinda like a superpower. So if you get caught with a lot of people around you, you can use it and cause AOE damage. The weapons and combat moves are all designed to tactically block. As Tech Archer you can push back stuff that comes at you, and if you are an Enforcer with a big-ass sword you can turn that sword into a shield.
Q: What will the moment-to-moment gameplay look like?
Rich Vogel: You’ll have 15 people with you, and you’ll co-ordinate with that group and work out a strategy. It’s very quick to get into the battle – our levels are designed by people who have done FPS’s before. We have people who worked on Halo, COD, BioShock. You have spaces where the Tech Archer would be, spaces to put your Enforcer. So our maps are very well-balanced and well-designed, and you can move across them very quickly. We try and get you to combat as soon as possible. It’s mixing very good melee with very good range and again it’s very fast, kinetic. It’s a very close, tight, third-person God of War type camera, tight behind your shoulders.
In our storyline, gunpowder is banned. There was a huge war that was horrific, like chemical warfare. They banned gunpowder so now technology has developed so weapons transform into things that are very cool. Our swords transform into shields, there’s magnetic things that shoot out lightning, things like that. But there’s no gunpowder so our weapons transform into many different things.
Q: What other weapons can we expect to see in the game?
Rich Vogel: Swords do different damages and are different sizes. Everything from a crossbow to a Gauss gun (magnetic things that shoot out a ball), to huge prosthetic iron fists the Brawler has. And each faction has different tactics, for example the Cossacks are more wild in the way they work, whereas the British faction is more regimental and structured. So you’ll see them play differently and act differently.
Q: What other modes are you expecting to include?
Rich Vogel: We’ll have several modes at launch. We’ll have the typical Team Deathmatch modes, then we’ll have objective-based modes including one similar to Domination called Landgrab. There’s several more in the works before launch. We will have a competitive (eSports) mode, ladders, and the like.
We also have a metagame where you work for your faction and have territory you can occupy over time. Think of it as World of Tanks with tiering. We’ll have 10 tiers at launch, and we’re all about ‘play to win’ not ‘pay to win’. You can play our game for free or go ahead and purchase vanity items, but everything is designed around playing the game for free.
Q: So are microtransactions for cosmetic items, gameplay items, or a mix of both?
Rich Vogel: It’s very similar to what World of Tanks does – it’s very much cosmetic with other little boosts, but nothing permanent. You can’t buy your skills, you have to earn them through the game. Anything that would make you more powerful we don’t allow.
Q: Server failures have crippled many high-profile launches in recent years. Is this a concern for you?
Rich Vogel: Yes, and this is why we wanted to pick Australia and New Zealand first to get all that stuff ironed out before we go big. We’ll be on Amazon cloud, so we’ll be on the Amazon server farm in Australia to test it, but being on Amazon cloud we can be anywhere in the world very quickly. Wherever Amazon is, we can be.
We have a lot of experienced people on our team who have done huge MMOs before with thousands and thousands of players – concurrency of half a million plus – so the back-end stuff I feel very confident about.
Q: A high player capacity can mean that servers that aren’t at capacity feel very empty. How will you combat this?
Rich Vogel: We’ll have different map sizes, and competitive mode is 7v7. Also, looking at a guidepost like World of Tanks, I never see that happen with them. And we’ll be able to run matches up to 24 players, that’s fine. We’ll offer different size maps at release depending on what people feel comfortable playing. Right now we’re sticking to 16v16, but as we go through beta, if people like 7v7 or 8v8 maps and they want more of those, we’ll make more of those.
Q: Zenimax is obviously throwing a lot behind BattleCry. How did you get involved?
Rich Vogel: When I left BioWare after Star Wars: The Old Republic, I had this idea in my mind. I never saw anyone do an action-based multiplayer combat game before, and I said “Why is that?” I’m a big console player as well and I love those games, so I said “That’s what we’re going to make!”
I formulated this idea with Viktor Antonov, he’s the creative director on the project. Viktor is well-known for TF2, Half-Life 2, and Dishonored. So we formed this idea together. Battlecry Studios is a small studio out in Austin. We love the game we came up with, we think it’s very unique in look and feel and style, and watching people playing it, we see a lot of people very excited about it and it kinda justifies what we’re doing.
Q: Is a release planned for any other platform?
Rich Vogel: Right now we’re aiming for PC. All I can say is you can use the controller or keyboard so you can take it from that…
Q: Anything more you’d like to add?
Rich Vogel: One of the things I saw about this game that’s very neat is the number of females that enjoy playing. Our characters are very inspirational to females and it shows. Every time we show it at a consumer show, we have a lot of females in line playing it which I like to see, that’s very cool for us. They like the style and the way women are portrayed in the game so that’s been a very positive thing.