Hellraid is one of the games that’s currently in development at Techland, the creators of Dead Island and Dying Light. What’s most exciting about this project though, is that it’s taking a bold turn away from modern conventions. Techland is looking to the past to reinvent the hack’n’slash genre, in first-person, and with the ability for people to play together.
Recently, we caught up with Marcin Kruczkiewicz, the game’s producer, to tell us more about his vision for Hellraid.
Could you tell us about the inspiration behind Hellraid, and how it differs from Techland’s previous games?
It’s hard to pinpoint a single biggest influence behind Hellraid. Many of our fans find similarities to Hexen and Heretic, and are right to do so, since a big part of our team loved to play those games way back in the day. The first installment of Diablo series is also an inspiration, with its dark, gothic atmosphere that we’d like to recreate in FPP (first-person perspective). However, those were all 90s games. They evoke a whole lot of nostalgia in gamers worldwide, but would they stand up to the tastes and needs of modern gamers? That’s a question we’ve asked ourselves a lot, and we hope Hellraid will recapture the mood and atmosphere of those classics, but with the advantage of modern visuals and gameplay mechanics. As for the main differences, Hellraid is our first game set in a fantasy setting, with very robust skill, loot and magic systems, and a HUGE emphasis on brutal, immersive combat.
How would you best explain Hellraid to someone who is unfamiliar with the game?
Hellraid is a first-person hack’n’slash that revolves around fighting through hordes of demonic invaders; either solo or with up to three co-op partners. With hundreds of thousands of randomly generated items and 100+ skills in a class-free skill system, Hellraid offers a chance to fine-tune your own, perfect demon slayer. If you have ever wondered how an old-school hack’n’slash would look through the eyes of your character, Hellraid is the perfect game for you.
There are several modes in the game: Story, Mission, and Arena – Could you explain how these will work?
Just to clarify, first: all of these different modes will be playable solo or in 4 player co-op.
The story mode is mostly self-explanatory. We will follow the steps of Ayden, a young recruit who abandoned his brothers-in-arms to save his sister from the threat of infernal invasion. This, however, is only the beginning of his journey, during which he will try to stave off the demonic onslaught and uncover the sinister story of his cursed family.
The mission mode then allows you to replay tweaked maps from the original campaign to develop your character and face unique challenges. This mode is the one we’d like to talk extensively about in the near future, but not just yet.
The arena mode is based on a classic idea. Fight off waves of enemies, survive against all odds, and complete objectives within unique maps created just for this mode
Can you explain how single-player and co-op play works, and how this effects the way you play the game?
Your character will be playable in both single-player and co-op play, as well as all three game modes. Because of that, we’re creating an auto-balance system for the game, which uses the number and level of all the players to create appropriate challenge. This system then uses the difficulty setting to adjust health, damage dealt, and the number of enemies. This, however, is the most delicate part of game’s creation, and we would love to work out the details and get the balance right together with the community through Steam Early Access.
How can players develop their characters in Hellraid, and how deep does this level of customisation go?
Primarily, player customization will be managed through two main mechanics; The first one is gear, and the second one is the skill system. Right now we have over a hundred unique skills, with 150+ planned for the release. All of those are set on a web-like skill tree that allows deep customization, and doesn’t force players into archetypes such as warriors or mages. You still can, of course, go all out magic, for example, but nothing stops you from being a steel-clad juggernaut that can sling fireballs at enemies. You can also mix and match elements of magic, melee and ranged combat to fit your own, personal play style.
With regards to the combat, can players win with brute strength alone or is it more about strategy?
Combat in Hellraid is not your typical hack’n’slash clickfest. While we want gear and skill choices to be extremely important, but the priority is to preserve player’s personal skill, reflexes and precision as the defining factor separating really good players from the more casual ones.
As a Dark Souls fan, I noted some similarities. How important is the physicality of different weapon types?
In Hellraid, every weapon plays differently. The differences are in their speed, weight and swing trajectories. Some are better suited to wide, horizontal sweeps hitting multiple enemies at once while others offer ground-shattering power with their overhead smashes. Another factor are damage types – blunt weapons work very differently from slashing ones. As an example, maces deal higher damage to skeletal enemies with a higher chance of staggering them.
How important will magic be in the game, and how it will affect the way you engage different opponents?
Magic can play a huge role in Hellraid’s combat. With a multitude of magical staves that all have two firing modes, magic-users can always find something interesting to play with. Freezing beams, homing ice shards, massive fireballs or lightning bolts are all available to players even without any skills augmenting their magic power. On top of staves, which serve as magical foci, the skill tree itself contains a variety of active skills that serve as spells that can be cast even without a staff in hand. Magic can be used in many ways, and in a huge range of character builds. It can be our primary damage source throughout the game, serve as additional elemental damage for specific enemies, or be used as a support mechanism through various shield and healing spells.
Will there be much variety and scale to the different enemy types encountered throughout the game?
Hellraid will feature a plethora of demonic enemies, as well as a few unique bosses. So far we have revealed a few of our enemies, some of which we’re naming together with the community, such as The Blinded or Hircus, or a new one we just revealed a concept art of in our social media. And, as you can see in our gameplay videos, the bulk of infernal forces are various reanimated skeletons and corpses. Nothing gives more satisfaction than turning multiple skeletons into a hail of bones and armor pieces with one well-placed, sideways blow!
There appears to be a large focus on collecting loot. Could you tell us how that will influence the player?
The loot system is one of the pillars of Hellraid. There are 5-tiers of items, depending on their power and rarity, ranging from almost-junk to powerful magical artifacts. Using our pool of affixes, hundreds of thousands of items can be generated. And with the differences between weapons (their speed, damage type, weight, reach and trajectories) higher damage numbers are not the only thing to consider. The same goes for armor, with different protection values, stat bonuses and weight, which is essential when determining our speed and agility in combat.
Visually, the game reminds us of Heretic & Hexen. Would you say Hellraid is a spiritual successor of sorts?
We’ve heard that a lot, and as we said, those classics have a special place in our gamer hearts. In a way, Hellraid is the spiritual successor, and a tribute, to Heretic and Hexen. Fast paced, magic and melee FPP combat is extremely appealing to us, but for some reason not a lot of games have used it in recent years. That’s why we’re making Hellraid – to create a game that we have wanted to play for years since Heretic and Hexen visited our CRT monitors of old.
The game has changed quite a lot over the past couple of years. Could you tell us more about that?
Well, Hellraid has certainly come a long way to get to the point where it is now. It originally started out as an in-house weapon mod for Dead Island. Using swords and battleaxes to kill hordes of enemies turned out to be extremely fun, and another of our developers added some skeletons into the mix. Gradually, more and more people started to add content to it – a sort of a hobby project, basically. In a matter of months, we realized it was starting to look really cool, and the premise of FPP melee combat in a fantasy setting had something very convincing in it. That’s when the project was truly born as a game in its own right, though it was initially being treated as a side project to Dying Light and set for digital distribution only. Since then, however, Hellraid has evolved greatly, and with the recent transition to Chrome Engine 6, we made Hellraid into a full-blown game offering hours upon hours of replayability.
Recently, you released Hellraid: The Escape for iOS. Could you tell us how that ties into this game, if at all?
Hellraid: The Escape was released by our colleagues from Short Break Studios, and it is set within the world of Hellraid. While it doesn’t provide any direct spoilers and links to the original Hellraid, it gives you a sneak-peak into this world filled with demonic presence and black magic. It is also interesting in its own right as a game where you actually fight hellspawn not with brawn, but brains.
There is so much to talk about! Is there any additional info that you would like to share with our readers?
That is true; there is a lot to talk about! In terms of our latest news, we finished the transition to the new engine, and, according to the press impressions from Gamescom, we really hit the nail on the head in terms of visual quality for the game. We’re also gearing up for Early Access now, where our main goal is to include our community in the development process and help us get the balance right. Feedback from players has always been a very important part of Hellraid’s development. If there’s anything else you’d like to know, you can always hop on to our official forum, which is a hub for feedback, questions and ideas from Hellraid’s community.
What platforms will Hellraid be available on, and when can our readers get their hands on the game?
Hellraid will be released for PC, Playstation 4 and Xbox One in 2015. However, PC players can get a taste for it and help us in development in Steam Early Access that is coming this autumn.