With the Christmas season rapidly approaching, the usual cluster of blockbuster FPS titles is gradually coming into focus, with Call of Duty: WWII, Star Wars Battlefront 2, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, and, of course, the PC release of Destiny 2 all still to come before the year's out.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow and Metroid: Samus Returns developer Mercurysteam, however, has promised its brand-new online 4v1 shooter-brawler title Raiders of the Broken Planet will be "the most unique shooter you're going to see this year," with studio owner Enric Alvarez confidently telling MCV that it won't fall into the same pitfalls as other 4v1 games such as the ill-fated Evolve, which launched to much hype in February 2015 but failed to find a long-term audience.
"There's no other game that's doing 4v1 as we're doing it, and as far as I know it's the only PvP and PvE shooter that's mission-based and narrative-driven," Alvarez told MCV at Gamescom.
"Evolve is a completely different proposal. It's pure gameplay. It's about game modes, not missions. Raiders of the Broken Planet is all about the missions, and as you progress through each mission, the story develops and you have proper character development. If you like Serenity, Firefly, Magnificent Seven or Seven Samurai, this is the game."
Senior producer Dave Cox elaborates: "Our entire 4v1 antagonist mode isn't just four players against one other player. It's four players against one other player and the AI, and bosses, and the mini-bosses. Each map has different missions, too, and I'm not talking about capture the flag. I'm talking about specific narrated missions. The game has a storyline, which is quite unusual for a shooter, especially an online shooter. We have a storyline so each of your characters has their own personal plot that you can follow through, but the missions are very, very different."
That's not the only thing that makes Raiders of the Broken Planet stand out, either. As we reported yesterday, Mercurysteam will be releasing a free prologue for all players this Friday (September 22nd), followed by unique, individual campaigns that cost just £10 each. The first campaign will arrive on the same day as the prologue, with the second following in two month's time.
"This is a triple-A independent adventure and it's been an adventure for us as a studio as well," Alvarez continues. "It's not episodic. Episodes suggest a temporal relation between chapters and that you have to play them in order. Instead, each of our planned campaigns is a self-enclosed adventure that tells a parallel story that all lead toward the same conclusion. You'd be perfectly fine playing the first one, then waiting until the fourth one, or jumping in with No.2 and then going back to No.1. The story remains consistent, which is very different to episodic."
The game has a storyline, which is quite unusual for a shooter, especially an online shooter.
Dave Cox, Mercurysteam
Likewise, Cox believes the prologue offers more than enough content to get players hooked: "The free prologue is your introduction to the world of Raiders. That gives you two meaty missions across multiple maps, access to five characters, the single player, multiplayer and the antagonist modes – everything – for free. And your stats will carry over to the main game if you decide to buy a campaign – that will open up more characters and more storylines. We think that's a fair deal for the customer."
Engaging with its community and keeping its customers happy are also top priorities for the team: "Any game of this kind today doesn't make any sense without a kind of PvP, PvE community, so we want the Raiders community to be happy and healthy," Alvarez says.
"We get that by treating them well. The first thing is a fair price – £10 per campaign. Second, just imagine you buy this [on Friday]. There will obviously be things you like and don't like. In any case, you can let us know and if the majority of the community says the same thing, we'll make those changes, because otherwise you're not going to buy the next one. It's a win-win situation for both. It's the developer and the audience making games in real time."
It's certainly been a hit with alpha testers so far, with Cox telling us the title already has around 90,000 registered players: "We've been in beta for around nine months, and it's been growing week-on-week.
Any game of this kind today doesn't make any sense without a kind of PvP, PvE community, so we want the Raiders community to be happy and healthy.
Enric Alvarez, Mercurysteam
That relationship with players won't stop when the game releases, either, Cox assures us: "That process will continue. Every week, we'll get back the data from players and they'll tell us what they think and what we need to fix. It will be an ongoing process, so hopefully in a year's time, when we've got four or five or six campaigns out in the market, the game will have evolved and you'll be able to see a clear difference from what we launched with.
"We're more interested in building the community around the game and passing the cost benefit onto the consumer. We're interested in getting people to try the free prologue, and if they like it, then have a very low barrier to get involved. It's a bit outside the norm, but we hope people will accept it."