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Alpha Testing & Beyond with Dave Verfaillie

Breakaway Interviews - By William Murphy on June 16, 2017

Alpha Testing & Beyond with Dave Verfaillie

Breakaway, the forthcoming team battle sport from Amazon Game Studios is getting set to enter a brand new phase of alpha testing. We caught up with Creative Director Dave Verfaillie to chat about the game’s design, its recent feedback, and how things are changing for the next wave of public testing. Read on!

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MMORPG: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today. There’s been some confusion over what Breakaway actually is – is it a MOBA, a Fighting Game? You’re calling it a Team Battle Sport, right?

DV: We think Breakaway provides a new type of gameplay, so we’re calling it something new- a Team Battle Sport.  Breakaway is an intense game, where two squads of four collide in sports-style competition to seize the Relic (a magical ball) and slam it into the opponent’s base to score.  It’s a round-based game, where the first team to score three points wins.

Breakaway is a cool combo of combat and sports that also has this nice strategic layer from the buildables and equipment. Combat comes in the form of a cast of warriors, each with their own unique abilities and roles. The sports angle comes from the ball and movement, complete with passing, juking and throwing.

Buildables are structures that warriors can place anywhere on the battlefield. They persist until the other team destroys them. They add a dynamic element to the map that makes every game feel different. And lastly, equipment allows players to enhance the stats of their warriors and specialize in damage, defense, or support.

MMORPG: Drawing on unique characters from history you have created quite a line up. What is your criteria for choosing someone to join the ranks?

DV: This is actually a great example of how we’ve been actively listening to feedback from the community. When we announced Breakaway, the idea was to leverage iconic warriors from myth and legend. When we had players come into our first public alpha in December, one of the key pieces of feedback we received was that players wanted more unique and ownable warriors. We’ve taken that feedback to heart and redesigned every warrior in Breakaway. We’ve just started rolling out the new line-up of warriors, and we’re looking forward to hearing what the community thinks.

MMORPG: In the early alphas, the gameplay seemed really fast, perhaps almost too fast. How has the feedback from those tests and streams altered the game?

DV: We think intensity is one of the things that makes Breakaway great. Rounds create these amazing bursts of action, where players come out of the starting gate into action almost immediately. The action is fast-paced and furious and that allows players to finish rounds in 7 minutes on average. 

But yeah, there were some concerns that the pace was too fast in the early Alphas, and we’ve made some changes to help alleviate that. We’ve changed our control scheme to be more intuitive for new players, and we removed some of the stun lock to keep the action fluid.  Lastly we’ve made some changes to the way the Relic gets knocked out of warriors’ hands, which causes the action to move around the arena more.  These changes, combined with streamlined VFX and updated UI, should help make things feel less hectic while maintaining the fast-paced action we want.

MMORPG: Esports is a growing market, but it seems incredibly difficult to break into. How will Breakaway be different, how will it make its mark?

DV: We’re focusing on loading Breakaway with features that work well for both competitive play and spectating—but it’s ultimately up to the community to decide what Breakaway’s competitive future will be. We’re establishing small competitive events early, like our Throwdown Thursdays, and supporting competitive play with features like a spectator mode that allows players to watch matches and analyze the action from a variety of camera perspectives.  Again, we can’t wait to hear what players think.

MMORPG: Are you at all concerned that these sort of hero competitive games are flooding the market right now and Breakaway could get lost in the sea? How do you prepare for that?

DV: Breakaway plays like a highlight reel of your favorite action games and we think it’s very different than anything currently available. The combination of intensity and sport offers something unique for all sorts of players, whether they are sports fans, action gamers, or MOBA players. We’re really proud of the gameplay formula we’ve created for Breakaway and we’ll continue to refine and enhance that formula with each new warrior we introduce. There are a lot of warriors currently in development, and we hope fans will be really excited to see how the game continues to grow and evolve over time based on player feedback.

MMORPG: What is your roadmap over the next few months? When can we expect more testing?

DV: We’ll be rolling out more news about the game, with opportunities for the community to get involved in the weeks and months ahead. Follow us on @playbreakaway and sign up at playbreakaway.com to get the latest directly from the team. 

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002. Be sure to follow him on Twitter for all of his pointless rambling.