Outward is a new RPG experience which takes into account every aspect of an adventure. You will face challenges, seek monsters, discover, but also set your camp and manage your resources. We got the chance to chat with Nine Dots about this upcoming game and how it brings such a great scope to the explorer concept. Here is what you can look forward too with Outward!
MMORPG: The game is much more lifelike than just hack and slash, what was the philosophy behind creating the experience?
Nine Dots Studio: The idea came from us the developers sharing stories of how roleplaying games were constantly breaking our suspension of disbelief. The convenience of always being the special hero, of always being able to face monsters, of being able to save and reload until we get the perfect result and such was something that all of us felt was going against the purpose of a roleplaying game, which is to feel immersed in another world.
So we wanted to explore the idea of making a game around one design pillar: what would it really be like to live the life of an adventurer?
The idea thus evolved into decomposing the different actions and challenges an adventurer would face and make it more lifelike, to the point where you forget as much as possible that you're playing a game.
MMORPG: How critical is camping, sleeping, and eating in the game?
Nine Dots Studio: These actions are necessary to survive and especially to stay in peak condition for the challenges ahead, but it doesn't mean that it's the main challenge of the game. The goal in survival games is usually to make it the main gameplay objective, whereas in our case it's about making the experience more lifelike. So if you don't eat for a day, you won't instantly die of hunger. In real life, you can survive for multiple days without eating and so can you in Outward. However, you won't be at your peak, and this may affect your chances of success while dungeon delving. Also, eventually it won't be a question of whether or not you sleep or eat, but what you eat and where you sleep in order to gain the kind of bonus that is appropriate to your skills and objectives. Some tents are better for mages, and some food recipes may be more appropriate for warriors, and this hot drink might help against cold, that sort of thing. So while it always stay relevant to the experience, it won't always be a critical element constantly nagging the player.
MMORPG: You do have monsters to fight, what is the PvE experience like in the game?
Nine Dots Studio: The combat is similar to the Souls series in many aspects. Combat is deliberate, stamina has to be taken into account, every hit counts and dodging/blocking are as important as offense. However, combat requires a bit more thinking than in the Souls series and there are more abilities involved. Dodging and attacking won't be enough to deal with every situation, and nearly every tactic require multiple steps. The first step might be to gather up buffs on your character before dealing a coup de grâce, or maybe you focus first on unbalancing your enemy with high impact hits such as shield bashes and kicks before dishing out the damage on a stunned enemy. Spellcasting is one of my favorite, as it implies going through the multiple steps of rituals during a combat to unleash that one spell that turns the tide around after some careful preparation.
MMORPG: Tell us more about the lore behind the world of Outward, what can players expect in terms of story?
Nine Dots Studio: Outward takes place in a land called Aurai, which is so intensely hostile that most of its inhabitants spend their entire lives inside the walls of their city. Due to how harsh it s to live there, survivalism is a key component of its culture, and it reflects in its politics, its religion and its economy. The story of the game is divided in 4 different storylines, one for each playable faction. These factions have different ideologies and interpretation on what it takes to better our chances of survival as a society, and there is an exploration of various philosophies, each with their strengths and drawbacks. Much of the conflicts derive from a new faction shaking the status quo, and all of them get involved in a different manner. It's important to note that in this story, the player is not central to the universe. He plays a role in a story that is larger than himself, doing his part in the grand scheme of things.
MMORPG: You can play in a co-op mode. Tell us how this works?
Nine Dots Studio: A second player can join in someone else's game and explore the world with them. The game can be played either online or locally in splitscreen. We use job boards in towns as player lobbies where you can invite people to join your game, stating what you need and where you're headed. When a player joins you online, he spawns where you left your camp or at the entrance of the region. Encounters are harder when a second player joins in, but in general the game will be easier when you have someone else with you nonetheless.
MMORPG: Is there a PvP element to the game at all? We did see the one character get robbed in the video.
Nine Dots Studio: There is no PvP in the game. The player getting robbed in the video is one of the possible scenarios when bandits defeat you. Instead of killing you and leaving you to a Game Over screen, they might rob you or capture you and your story goes on from there. Adding PvP would mean making some sacrifice on other aspects of the game, notably on game feel. We wanted to focus on doing one thing really well rather than spread ourselves too thin.
MMORPG: Tell us your cycle of development and beta plans moving into the coming months. What is in store for fans?
Nine Dots Studio: Currently, our objective is to release the game in summer of 2017, but it's not a promise. If we feel like we need to spend more time on the game to make sure it's just right, we'll postpone the release until early in 2018. We might do a closed beta in the future and those who subscribe to our newsletter will be the first invited to participate, but at the moment it doesn't look like we'll do any kind of Early Access type of deal.