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The Open World of Warhammer 40K Creates Never-ending Content

William Murphy Posted:
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Warhammer 40K: Inquisitor Martyr is due out in the coming months, and Action RPG from the folks who brought us Van Helsing, set in the Warhammer 40,000 Universe. It aims to bring a sandbox world (or universe) into the ARPG genre, and we caught up with the developers to chat about just how they plan on doing this.

MMORPG:  It’s been a while since we chatted about W40K: Inquisitor – Martyr. As a refresher, can you give us a brief overview of what the game’s main thrust is?

Zoltan "Pozs" Pozsonyi: Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr is a persistent open world sandbox action-RPG set in the grim universe of Warhammer 40,000, focusing on the mighty agents of the Inquisition and their battles against corruption and heresy. As the title suggests, our protagonists are Inquisitors. They are powerful secret agents roaming the galaxy to root out the taint of Chaos and heresy.  They can come from different backgrounds, and the available classes in the game reflect their diverse training. At launch, there will be three available classes: choosing a class will determine the active and passive skills, the class abilities, the gear, the visual progress and also providing the players with a totally different gameplay experience for each class.

In Inquisitor – Martyr, players will roam our almost infinite sandboxed region in this universe, the Caligari Sector, represented in the game by a Star Map, which is the HUB of all activities. The Caligari Sector consists of subsectors, star systems and points of interests – special locations where missions spawn. Inquisitor – Martyr starts in one of the subsectors, which is a rich and complex world to begin with, encompassing many star systems and a huge number of planets, moons and artificial constructs in space with randomly generated areas to visit. In addition to that, as a persistent open world sandbox, it will be expanded even further. New subsectors will be unlocked gradually, while the ongoing storyline of the region is progressing, which individual players can personally influence, along with other members of the community.

MMORPG: The persistent world, something you all are referring to as a sandbox Action RPG, seems novel. How exactly is it a sandbox in your eyes? What that word conjures up for our fans is probably different than what you mean it as with Inquisitor – Martyr.

ZP: In Inquisitor - Martyr the main persistent element is the giant star map. The game features randomly generated missions and mini-campaigns that are randomized for each player. But the main events of the Caligari sector and its ongoing story is persistent. Players will see the effects of this persistent world in global events where the community can make important decisions regarding the story - they can eradicate entire factions or even parts of the Caligari sector, or for example a certain player can become the protector of a system - visible by everyone - by completing certain objectives.

The open world mechanic of the game is mostly connected to the star map as well. The battles and the missions are instanced maps, but the world can be explored and opened up gradually, from subsector to subsector, from system to system on the star map. To have as much diversity as possible, it was necessary to build the missions as instanced maps. But the star map is a unique and colorful one. Missions won't scale as players level up, so it'll be entirely possible to bump into an area that's just too high for our current level. Players will choose where they go and how they progress. They can start with the mini-campaigns, do some randomized battles, participate in the story line of Seasons, jump into the main campaign or participate in a global event with other Inquisitors as they collectively assault a system infested by Chaos. They can play as a lonely wolf or someone who's already a honored member of a big clan. Players can focus on loot and character progress or on the community challenges. There'll be an opportunity for all of these in the game's continuously evolving world.

We'll also planning other, sandbox-like features - "The Uther's Tarot" for example is a mission crafting system, where players can craft their own loot-oriented missions with the help of various cards. Inquisitors can also build their own fortresses that other players can attack, and we'll have a very exciting crafting and skin-crafting system as well that'll add some extra flavor to the game.

MMORPG: How many worlds or areas will the game launch with? And about how long do you think it’ll take players to comb through them and push the map towards opening new zones?

ZP: The game starts with one unlocked subsector (with roughly 60 points of interests - planets, abandoned space stations, and so on) but players will be able to progress to the second and third subsectors in the first Season, almost right after the release. After that, two more - much larger - subsectors will join the pool in the second Season. A huge expansion will follow that with another batch of new areas. We'd like to support the game for at least three years with free content patches (Seasons) and multiple expansions.

MMORPG: How are the new areas decided upon? How exactly do you watch players’ progress and use their data to pick where the map expands next?

ZP: Each subsector is one giant tier, with the longer ones having hundreds of hours of content. And each of these tiers has its own progress tree - we upgrade our character, our gear and as we find the best possible items of the subsector we'll soon find ourselves to be geared enough to progress to the next, yet unknown subsectors. It's a constant challenge with a massive skill- and gear check at the end of each tier. We'll monitor when players are finishing a particular tier and decide when and how to open new, more powerful ones with the Seasons.

MMORPG: The mission system and randomly generated maps sound insane. Can you detail a bit of the variety we’ll see in both?

ZP: The ARPG missions are based on terrain types, built on mosaic tiles. The maps are built from these mosaic tiles (pretty random ones, from simple corridors to giant halls) so they are completely randomized. Besides that, weather patterns, monster types and their density is randomized as well. Regarding missions, their type and their location is chosen from a giant pool (for the launch, we're aiming for a pool of about 50 variations), supported by randomized mini-campaigns. In these mini-stories we'll have to make decisions in the beginning and at the end of each missions and these decisions will shape the outcome of a mini-campaign.

MMORPG: Can players make their own maps to share with friends or anything like that?

ZP: Inquisitorial fortresses and their defenses are currently the only user generated element in the game. Here, players can build their own bases by using various blueprints. They can change the rooms and the layout of the base, fill it with traps, defenders or defense mechanisms to ensure that attackers will have a hard time completing and defeating it. We'd like to have an editor for ARPG missions as well, but at this point we can't promise that it'll happen.

MMORPG: The game, while it can be enjoyed single-player also has a 4-player co-op mode. Do you just join other people’s games, or is there a persistent online map and lobby system?

ZP: Players can join other players (by joining friends, other clan members or by searching) and complete quests with them by forming a party. Regarding clans, we experimented with ideas beyond 4-player co-op and with a more direct version of PvP (which was not necessarily competitive PvP, more like all kinds of fun game modes), but at this stage we can't promise anything concrete.

MMORPG: What about the PVP mode, where you attack and defend players’ bases?

ZP: The Inquisitorial Fortresses of the players are not part of the main story, they're additional sandbox minigames, not connected to certain locations. Players will be able to build and upgrade their fortresses from their hub. To attack other players' fortresses, the game will find opponents through PvP matchmaking.

The building and attacking of the fortresses is a very heavy sandbox part of the game - if the player doesn't want to bother with it at all, the game won't force it. But we want to give the opportunity to those who like building great challenges and want to troll attackers with smart and cheeky fortress defenses.

MMORPG: Can you tell us a bit about Seasons and how they’ll shape the game’s longterm?

ZP: Seasons are basically storylines that'll shape the long-term history of the Caligari sector. Our goal is to create a persistent world, but instead of a static, frozen one, our world and its story will evolve as new and new Seasons come out. All Seasons will introduce new stories where the outcome of the story line is decided and influenced by the player community through their collective decisions in Global events. Think about it as a giant "Choose your own adventure book" where, say, one page is one or two months of a Season's content and community decisions will decide what will happen next.

MMORPG: Will these seasons include new gear, new missions, and so forth?

ZP: Seasons are not just about the new storylines but they are huge, free content patches as well. The content of the first Season will be included in the final game, and players will be able to unlock it as they progress through the Caligari Sector. The rest of these patches will be released later, and their content will depend on a lot of factors, such as player choices in the story. In a Season, players will find new story based investigations, global events, new enemy units, new subsectors and sometimes even new terrain types. And of course, they'll include new, more powerful items and gear pieces, and more difficult areas. Technically, our goal with Seasons, is to let players gradually explore the Caligari sector in the coming years.

MMORPG: When can we play, dang it?!

ZP: Sometime later in 2017, when it's done. But those who'd like to see the game and help us in the development can join much sooner, as our new Open World trailer teases it. These players can answer the Emperor's call, that we call "The Founding" very soon, in the beginning of 2017. We'll soon reach the Alpha stage in the development where most of the base gameplay elements are in and the dodgy parts of the development are over. We're getting to a phase where we need the feedback of the community. Those early adopters who join our founder's campaign can help us shape the game's final form and can be there to witness as development reaches its final stage.


William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.