Warface, the free-to-play FPS, is jumping from its home on PC and invading consoles later this year. Recently, ahead of its launch, a few select conscripts dropped into a secret Parisian bunker to try out tan early build of this console shooter. Publisher My.com is expecting big things from this title and after we locked and loaded, I sat down with Project Manager Alexander Shimov to talk about this leap over to console.
MMORPG: For those who have yet to sign up, what is Warface?
Alexander Shimov: Warface is a free to play multiplayer first-person shooter. It is set in the near future, with a range of narrative and competitive modes that create a fast-paced, dynamic experience.
MMORPG: Warface has been out on PC for some time, why bring it to console?
AS: That’s quite an interesting question. Right now, Crytek still develops and maintains the PC version of the game, with My.com acting as a publisher. We (My.com) decided to take the step to port the game to console because it is a natural fit for the platform. Lots of FPS games are already available on console. The game’s controls and pace fit a gamepad setup, and it is something that is pretty familiar to a lot of the console player base.
We also have experience of this type of project, with Skyforge. With our experience gained in porting Skyforge and a real love of console gaming in the studio, it felt like the right choice.
MMORPG: How did your experience with porting Skyforge impact this project?
AS: First of all, after Skyforge our engineers got that very valuable experience with technical aspects of porting on console platforms, it was easier to port the engine.
Then we found out many of the tricky aspects of these platform certification requirements that really helped us to anticipate a lot of problems that could arise. Our QA department got familiar with it and that really helped as well.
UI was also an issue on Skyforge and we researched this area a lot to make it more console friendly. This experience was also valuable for Warface. However, each game is different and there is certainly no ideal formula for porting the game to consoles. We faced our challenges, especially taking into account the fact that the game is developed by another great studio. What is completely different from what we had on Skyforge.
MMORPG: What sort of challenges did you face due to this?
AS: Despite our experience with Skyforge, this was an MMORPG. These are not the same types of games. The nature of the game just brings its own challenges that you do not find with an MMORPG. Skyforge being in-house, this makes it much easier to introduce any changes to a game, that were required for Skyforge on console. With Warface, we have a lot of legacy features that was developed by Crytek. This gives it a lot of content and features that need to be adapted for consoles.
So, one of the first challenges is the tech. We needed to port Cryengine to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Warface doesn’t actually use the latest Crytek engine, so moving that very specific version of the engine that Warface uses, onto console.
The second big challenge was the controls, of course. We understand that you need to preserve the dynamic nature of the gameplay while still making console players feel comfortable. Console players will reasonably have some expectations of any FPS game that launches and we had to transfer build a set of controls that matched these expectations.
MMORPG: With limited resources available how do you make sacrifices without impacting gameplay?
AS: Assuming that this is about technical limitations on consoles, we have put a lot of effort into optimization specifically for PS4 and Xbox One. Talented engineers and Skyforge porting experience really helped us to manage it and leave the gameplay intact.
Apart from gamepad controls of course that required a lot of work. We did huge amounts of playtesting internally with the team and with invited console players in the UX lab. With many, many iterations, it seems like we could nail it. But at the moment of writing, we still continue to refine it with the feedback from the lab.
MMORPG: Are there any variations between console versions?
AS: The performance is what going to be even better on PS4 Pro and Xbox One X versions.
MMORPG: What content will the game launch with?
AS: We plan to launch a large subset of the existing PC content. Every month you can expect an update with new modes, new maps. I think, in quite a short time there will be parity between all the platforms in terms of the content.
What we are aiming for is that eventually, any content released on PC will quickly or simultaneously be available on console.
MMORPG: How is monetization changing with the console launch?
AS: The goal for us is to make sure that anything that is in the game is achievable without paying. You can just play to win. In that regard, there will be some tweaking in the economy so that you can receive enough currency to get what you want. Also, there will be some special rewards that will allow you to get Kredit currency without buying them, dailies.
MMORPG: What are the plans for e-sports on console?
AS: Warface is already highly competitive. It is a really fast-paced, dynamic experience with a well-established PvP scene. We already have a ton of tournaments, PvP seasons, and yearly Lan finals and we want to continue this on console. We plan to introduce tournaments on PlayStation 4. We plan to launch these as in-game features after the initial launch of the game.
MMORPG: Are these online or event-based?
AS: These will start as online only but we really would like to have a combined LAN final event and bring the console tournaments into this event. I don’t know if we will manage that but I’d love it to happen.
MMORPG: Does the launch of Warface on Console give My.com the opportunity to shed a spotlight on the game for a western audience?
AS: That is part of our goal with the console launch. We think that there is definitely an audience for Warface on Xbox and PlayStation. We feel that Warface’s gameplay, the free to play model, and the competitive features should allow it to thrive on consoles.
I’ve played Warface on both PC, and now console and I’m optimistic this project will pull in lots of recruits for what is, to me, a really underrated FPS.