Rogue Company Exclusive Interview | Early Access, Cross-Play, and More

Rogue Company Exclusive Interview

Rogue Company just entered Early Access and managed to speak with First Watch Games' Bart Koenigsberg a.k.a. Bort, Brand Director on this ambitious third-person shooter. After showing us a demo of the Demolition mode played in the Skyfell map, where one team plants a bomb while the other tries to prevent their plans, we talked about development of Rogue Company and the studio's goals for this shooter. Releasing a new competitive TPS is a tough endeavor, but having cross-platform play between PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch on day one sounds like a great way to start. Read the full Rogue Company exclusive interview below to learn more about the game.

Rogue Company Exclusive Interview third-person shooter Given the fact that you've drawn experience from Paladins and SMITE, do you believe that Rogue Company is going to be a bigger hit than those games?

First Watch Games' Bort: Oh, we have to believe that! We're really excited about the game, it's our first game on Unreal Engine 4, that's one of our major releases, and it's cross-platform and cross-progression from day one, none of our other games has ever been. We're pretty excited about the upside of having Switch, Xbox, PlayStation, and PC all working together on day one, and you can play anywhere that you like.

I think that the genre of this game, the action shooter game, even tactical shooter games, both of those genres are much bigger than MOBAs or hero shooters from a number of players standpoint. So, I'm pretty excited about that as well, this is our first entry into a really, really broad genre of action shooters versus… I would say Paladins and SMITE are both stylized from an artistic standpoint, and from a game genre standpoint are a little bit more niche in MOBA and hero shooter.

This is a pretty big thing for us, so yeah, our expectations are that this has the potential and we're doing everything we can to make it our biggest game ever. You mentioned cross-platform support because you want the most people to play Rogue Company from the start. Have you ever considered making the game buy-to-play instead of free-to-play? That would surely go against the idea of cross-play and getting a large player base, but has that thought crossed your mind?

First Watch Games' Bort: Frankly, no. Our studio… or the publishing house Hi-Rez only makes one type of game, which is community-driven player-versus-player competitive games, that's really all we make. Games as a service and free-to-play games is a really, really core part of what Hi-Rez does, I would say it's our core philosophy.

No, this game from the very start was always a free-to-play game with live service elements, so it will have many rogues over time, that really is the idea. I guess your question is are we leaving money on the table by being “yeah, just go get it for free on all these platforms.” I mean, potentially, but philosophically we just make free-to-play games, that's what we do. There's always a risk, but you've got to take it…

First Watch Games' Bort: Yes, it is a risk, it is what it is, but the secret to our success is not a secret, it's free-to-play games and paying attention to our community, and if your game is free-to-play and community-driven at the same time, that's a pretty good recipe for success. You've called your game a tactical shooter, so you wouldn't want to describe it as a hero shooter?

First Watch Games' Bort: No, not so much. My personal opinion on that is… the way that we're approaching this is that the abilities and the things that your character does… a rogue is more a collection of weapons and devices than it is a “this is our invisibility character and he assassinates people.” So, it's more on the sort of playstyle that you want to have and how it will align with that rogue, than “use your ultimate now so I can use my ultimate and they'll work together really well.”

We're pretty set on limiting the impact of things like abilities or passives on the characters, it really is more about the weapons and devices that they have available.

Rogue Company Exclusive Interview Ronin Gameplay On the topic of third-person, there aren't many shooters using this perspective. Do you think that the community is going to prefer it to first-person? How much different do you feel that the game would be if it was in first-person? Are you confident that the competitive community is going to pick up the game?

First Watch Games' Bort: I'm certain that the game will be played competitively. We'll roll out a ranked mode, we'll have custom matches, and all of the things that allowed it to happen in all of our other games. In terms of is this game an eSport, is it going to be the next big eSport? Based on our experience with our other games, we have a 30-person eSports department; we have a whole studio operating the SMITE league and the Paladins leagues.

It's the kind of thing where we'll follow where the community wants to go. We'll start with supporting our community with ranked modes and custom game modes, and then we'll obviously happily support community tournaments, and were perfectly happy to operate an eSports league for this game as well, provided that there's interest in it.

Our feeling on third-person versus first-person is… how do you make an action tactical game? Those two things are a little bit opposites, and one of the things that we've identified as core to an action game is things like dodge rolling in a third-person POV. Does it make the game less competitive? I think there's an argument that it makes it as competitive, or even potentially it could be seen as a highly competitive game when we see things like the way that third-person and information gathering interact and… this game could be very information-based.

By and large, the answer to that question is… it is a PvP game that we are balancing and keeping an equal playing field and we have a lot of experience operating eSports. Would it be more competitive as a first-person shooter? It would be a different game as a first-person shooter. We would be more laser-focused on things like how fast players move through the map, TTK to be a lot lower, in terms of making a strong first-person shooter. This game has a bit longer TTKs and is a bit more reliant on tracking than, say, twitch-shooting.

There's definitely eSports of this type. Will it be an eSports similar to Counter-Strike? Less so, because it isn't that type of game, it's not a twitch-based one tap style of game. So, my expectation is that like all of our games, over time the community will tell us that they want more and more formalized ways to compete, that the top thousand players are satisfied by our ranked mode, and that's where you look at third-party matchmaking partners like Faceit, or little private leagues, or even full-blown leagues as an eSport.

We're open to all of it, we have the capabilities to pull off all of it. Right now, we're focused on trying to make a game that's like playing a summer blockbuster, and for core shooter fans it has all of the elements of core shooting, and you don't feel confused or cheated as to why you lost a gunfight. It should be like if you hit more of your shots, you win and there's not a lot of back and forth regarding abilities. We are making a core shooting game with this one.

Rogue Company Exclusive Interview Rogues selection The final question is a bit of a silly one, but here it goes. Have you ever thought of adding a battle royale mode?

First Watch Games' Bort: [laughs] Yeah, this game has been in development for three years, about two and a half years, and during that time was the kind of staggering crescendo of battle royale. And so, in early versions of development there were versions of this game where there were more players, you're diving into a map and collecting things, so it was kind of like a quasi-battle royale experience. Today, no, there's no plans to add a battle royale per se, and there certainly won't be one at closed beta.

Any game like this can and could support a battle royale given the tech and infrastructure workings. I think that the biggest question mark today would be how do we get 30, 100 players into a match? We've done a lot of this initial R&D work with Realm Royale, which is essentially that same question, but posed to Paladins. You have Paladins, what would happen if it was a battle royale? That's Realm Royale.

I don't know if I'm comfortable to say that on a long enough timeline it's an inevitability that there's going to be a battle royale mode, but I think what is definitely the case is that this game is going to have in-game events, limited time modes, and there's no reason why one of them might not be something that is akin to a battle royale. Will we have a standalone 50+, 100-person dive-in giant map battle royale mode at any point in the next six months? I'd say it's very, very unlikely.

A big thank you to Bort and the First Watch Games team for taking their time to concede us this Rogue Company Exclusive Interview.

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