Nosgoth: Interview with a Game Dev
When Nosgoth was first announced back in 2013, the internet was aflame. “Multiplayer only?!?” shouted the fans, specks of Cheetos launching from their lips and dirtying their empty Monster cans. “how can such disrespect for the canon exist in this modern age of enlightened gaming?” Others cynically snorted, wiping their thick-rimmed glasses with a corner of their alpaca scarves, “It’s just another damning indictment of the modern multiplayer ‘free-to-pay’ explosion. Another long running franchise reduced to a dollar sign. Another step on the short march to the grave for real storytelling.” Some watched the trailer in their boxers, enjoying what was probably a combination of beer and chicken wings, and thought to themselves, “Huh, that looks pretty cool.”
I bought into the Nosgoth beta back in 2014, and had a pretty rough time getting my ass kicked by people way better than me for a good few weekends. I’m not bad at shooters, but the asymmetric gameplay and focus on teamwork created a skill cap too high for myself, my single friend, and the two insufferable scrubs I was invariably paired with. I was okay at the melee focused vampires, but setting up a defensible position, coordinating attacks, and outmaneuvering in close quarters as a human proved to be my downfall. I felt like this could be solved with some matchmaking improvements or simple team commands, so I quit. As luck would have it, I had a chance to revisit the game when contacted by Square Enix about an interview.
I pounced at the opportunity like a Reaver, both as a journalist and gamer. I had some genuine questions I wanted answered. First and foremost, what was the new content they had planned, and what is their plan for future content? Secondly, I wanted to know how they planned to improve the matchmaking problems that drove me away in the first place. Lastly, as one of the most controversial aspects of their game was the switch from single player to multiplayer, how do they plan to tell a story in the Legacy of Kain world, and what does that mean for the canon?
I was joined by Jacob Mott of Psyonix and Bill Beacham of Square Enix London.
Ted: Alright, so let’s start off with the Beastmaster. Tell me about him.
Jacob: Throughout Nosgoth’s history, the game has been split between the more mobile vampires and the humans sticking to the streets. It’s a key part of the asymetry, but made for some gaps. For the first time, the humans can now experience the same freedom of movement as the vampires. A fundamental part of the Beastmaster class is the ability to transform into a winged raptor and take to the skies.
Ted: So this is a more aggressive type of character? Does he take the fight to the vampires?
Bill: Not exactly. The Beastmaster is vulnerable and unable to attack in his winged form. He has to go back to his less agile human form to fight. He’s equiped with a shotgun, giving him great close range damage, but he still doesn’t match the raw power of a Tyrant in a melee. It’s more accurate to say that humans now have an option to chase down wounded vampires. Their heavy burst damage and mobility makes them perfect for hunting down damaged enemies who think they are out of range. He does a few other things, but we aren’t ready to release his full kit yet.
Ted: Alright, cool! Now let’s talk about the new vampire.
Jacob: So the sixth vampire clan in Legacy of Kain is the Rahabim. In the lore, the Rahabim are more animal than the rest, masters of water and more snake/spider-like. The role that she fills in the game is a kind of special forces unit. A lot of what will make for a successful Rahabim player is picking the right loadout to set up the battle positioning based what the rest of the team is doing.
Bill: We’re not ready to talk about specifics yet, since she’s still in the works and her kit is always changing. What we can say is that there’s a more tactical element to her play. All vampires have tactical roles, but we’ve been focusing on making this part of her core ability set. If you manage to pull off certain combinations of move, they will have a devastating effect. She’s still mobile and combative like the rest of the vampires, but she’s a bit more of a thinker.
Ted: It just sounds a bit like the Summoner. What differentiates the Rahabim?
Bill: The summoner relies on the ghouls as initiators to engage from range. The Rahabim is much more hands on. She’ll need to get in there and do the damage herself. It’s much more about planning the engagement to make sure that you’ll have the maximum chance for success.
Ted: So when can we expect to see her in Nosgoth? Same time as the Beastmaster?
Jacob: Beastmaster is definitely coming soon, but there’s still a lot of work to do on the Rahabim. There’s still a bunch of polishing and fixing to do, and a lot of her audio still hasn’t come in. Unfortunately, she’s a long way out.
Bill: Where we go after that will be up to the players. When we come out of Early Access, we’ll have many more players telling us what they want. There’s plenty of room to grow, be it through maps, classes, or the crafting system. Once the core gameplay is done, we can focus on making those plans.