Outriders – Interview with Creative Director Bartek Kmita

Outriders is an upcoming action RPG from developer People Can Fly. While it might superficially share similarities with other loot-shooters, don’t call it one though. As Creative Director Bartek Kmita explains, Outriders is an ARPG, inspired by the likes of Diablo and Dungeons & Dragons and not Destiny.

Coming to PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X later this year, Outriders has recently taken to monthly updates to keep fans abreast on what to expect from the game. The last broadcast featured the Pyromancer class, information about exploration and character slots.

We had the good fortune to speak with Creative Director Bartek Kmita and learn a bit about Outriders first hand from the man driving this ARPG forward.

Outriders

PowerUp! – People Can Fly is well known for developing both first and third-person shooters. What made the third-person perspective the right choice for Outriders?

Bartek Kmita – Outriders is a deep and layered RPG-Shooter that has a lot of character progression and loot systems layered on top of that of a core shooting experience that most people are familiar with in People Can Fly games. With that in mind, we went with a third-person perspective because we want players to be able to see their cool weapons, armour and powers fully in-game.

That would not have been possible in the first-person perspective, where you’d only see your awesome new helmet in a cutscene for example. Whereas in Outriders, we want players to be able to appreciate the evolution of your character as you pick up ever more twisted and beautiful gear on your journey.

PowerUp! – You’ve been quite vocal that Outriders is not a Games-as-a-service title. Is it difficult to present a loot shooter/RPG shooter without people assuming it’s a GaaS and how do you change their opinion?

Kmita – Certainly a lot of the time, the first assumption players make when they see Outriders is that it’s going to be games as a service. Players have been conditioned to just kind of expect that in the industry right now.

We are all gamers ourselves as well in the team, and we’ve always preferred being able to play a game without being roped into the GaaS content treadmill or have to invest 3-6 months in order to get the full experience. We’re really happy to be able to make a game like Outriders, where we provide the complete experience out of the box, the full story from beginning to end and all end-game content is there from day one.

There’s no wrong way to play Outriders, and we don’t have to try to retain players for months or years. If you want to power through the main campaign in a week or two and move on to something else, that’s totally fine, and you’ll get the full story and have a great experience doing it.

If you like the world of Outriders and want to spend more time in it with your friends, taking on end-game challenges on the highest World Tiers and earning the strongest loot in the game, there’ll be plenty of things to keep you busy for much longer.

PowerUp! – Even though Outriders is not a service, what lessons have you learned from games like Destiny, Anthem, The Division etc that have helped in the development of Outriders?

Kmita – We’ve not really paid that much attention to those games to be honest.

We were more inspired by classic RPGs like D&D and Diablo more than anything else on the market now. Outriders is a true RPG in how you build your characters. You will have a lot of options to shape how your character plays, and what powers and abilities you focus on.

We wanted to build a character progression system that allows for class builds with the creativity and complexity of classic RPGs.

PowerUp! – Games using shooter elements combined with heroic powers and abilities is a well-worn path. What makes Outriders different and what makes it a game that stands on its own?

Kmita – Outriders has a few things that define it as a true RPG-shooter. We wanted a unique approach to combat where guns and powers are equal in importance, this is not a game where you save your powers for the right moment, they are your bread and butter.

You can use your powers just as much, or even more than you use your guns if you like, it’s totally up to how you build your character.

We’ve created a character progression system that allows for truly unrivalled freedom and creativity in how you build your chosen class. You’ll be able to create your own playstyle using a selection of powers, an extensive class tree, and itemization with guns, gear and mods.

You can put three players of the same class in the same session and have completely different strategies, different powers and different weapons. We’ve really opened up the progression system to allow for a lot of creativity and skill expression from players.

PowerUp! – The World Tier system is incredibly clever and already feels like something that is going to be copied, borrowed and stolen by other devs. What drove the creation of that system? Will there be a point where it’s not possible to play at a higher world tier unless you’re playing co-op?

Kmita – We wanted a more dynamic difficulty system that would keep the game challenging for players as their skills and equipment improve, and at the same time, provide aspirational goals for players to achieve higher difficulty levels.

Most of the time, players will pick a difficulty and just stay on that for their playthrough. The World Tier system is designed to present difficulty as a challenge to be overcome, with loot and experience incentives that can motivate players to level up their skills, their gear and their understanding of the synergies in their class build, in order to maximise the strength of their character.

There aren’t any World Tiers that require co-op to succeed, but there will be World Tiers that require players to truly master their class builds and itemization in order to survive. If your build isn’t good enough or doesn’t support your play style properly, or your equipment isn’t strong enough, you won’t make it on the highest World Tiers.

Outriders dynamically adjusts to the number of players in a session and changes the difficulty and number of enemies in the level for co-op. Going from World Tier 5 single player to World Tier 5 co-op won’t necessarily be easier. If anything, reaching the highest World Tiers in co-op is more challenging, as it requires three players to master their character builds, as well as to master co-op strategies and synergies between their specific classes and builds.  

PowerUp! – How do you balance loot? i.e. if players get new stuff too frequently they can’t become attached to anything and if it’s too infrequent they feel stuck with whatever they currently have. How does Outriders tackle this issue?

KmitaThat’s something we are always considering and tweaking. In Outriders, players will consistently be finding new and better items. The higher the World Tier they are playing on, the more chance they have of getting better loot.

If you find a gun or an armour piece that you’d like to keep, maybe it does something great for your character build, or maybe it just looks really cool, you are able to use your crafting resources to level the item up with you.

You can improve its rarity, or change the mods on it in order to keep it relevant as your character gets stronger.

PowerUp! – What sci-fi has inspired you? Where does Outriders draw from in order to create the world, the characters and the story?

KmitaWe’ve always loved stories of anti-heroes, and dark, brutal sci-fi and fantasy universes. One of my favourite stories is actually a manga/anime called Berserk, for example.

We also love classic dark literature like Heart of Darkness. The inspiration of those kinds of dark universes and stories was where we started out, we knew immediately that there wouldn’t be any lasers and shiny metals in Outriders and that we wanted to develop a dark, brutal, grounded and ballistic sci-fi world.

PowerUp! – How did working on Gears of War influence the development of Outriders?

KmitaWe’ve learned a lot from all our previous projects at People Can Fly. I wouldn’t say Outriders is inspired by any, one thing from our past, we’ve taken all our experience and all the lessons we’ve learned over the years into the development of the biggest, most ambitious game we’ve ever made. 

PowerUp! – In RPG shooters, there’s always a risk of bullet sponge enemies. How do you avoid this?

Kmita – We always want to prevent the bullet sponge effect and ensure that the time to kill feels good in the game. It’s something we’re always tweaking and balancing. It’s a real challenge in any game where character levels, equipment and different enemy strength are in play, because there’s no fixed power curve to tweak since players will all be at different power levels depending on their gear and character builds.

One of the ways we’re addressing that is with the World Tier system, where the game difficulty will keep pace with your character power depending on how well you’re doing in combat. I think we’re in a good place with this in Outriders, where the rank and file enemies will go down relatively fast, while Captains and Bosses take a bit more work to finish off.

PowerUp! – Is there any chance we’ll see Outriders on Switch?

Kmita – We don’t have anything to announce around Switch at this time. Outriders will be out for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and PC, as well as PS4 and Xbox One.


Thanks to Bartek Kmita for his time.

Featured image credit – GameInformer

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Leo Stevensonhttps://powerup-gaming.com/
I've been playing games for the past 27 years and have been writing for almost as long. Combining two passions in the way I'm able is a true privilege. PowerUp! is a labour of love and one I am so excited to share.

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