Aliens: Fireteam Interview with Cold Iron Co-Founders Craig Zinkievich and Matt Highison

Craig Zinkievich and Matt Highison guide CBR through the joy of engineering the scares and fights at the core of the upcoming Aliens: Fireteam.

During an exclusive interview with CBR, two of Cold Iron Studios’ co-founders Craig Zinkievich and Matt Highison delved into their upcoming Aliens: Squad Cooperative shooter, what it was like to jump into the universe as fans and what they hope is the central moment of each player’s experience.

Aliens: Squad will bring players to Aliens universe, more than twenty-five years since the events of the original trilogy. While the Xenomorphs still haunt the galaxy, the Colonial Marines have tried to adapt to their spread and find ways to contain them. Players will join a squad of four on missions across the galaxy, taking on hordes of ravenous xenomorphs and a host of other creatures and threats from the beloved sci-fi / horror franchise.

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Zinkievich explained how being huge fans of the franchise even brought some additional expectations to the project. “It’s almost a hangover right after, when you’re like ‘Yeah, we’re working on a Aliens game! I can’t believe this dream has come true! This is the best thing of all time!’ So you think, ‘My God, am I going to disappoint myself?’ It is a huge responsibility. And I think it’s great that everyone at Cold Iron is such a fan because we control ourselves. The Disney / 20th Century team has been fantastic throughout, giving us the information we need and supporting what we need to do. But I think there’s a lot of trust there just because of how big the fans of the franchise are. We are almost our worst critics in many ways. There is a lot of responsibility and I think that makes it better. “

the Aliens The franchise was one of many that were included in Disney’s purchase of 20th Century Fox in 2019. However, it does not appear that Disney wanted to maintain the Aliens franchise, especially in games, from being too exciting or terrifying. Speaking about the levels of cooperation they received from Disney and 20th Century, Zikievich revealed that “it was a fantastic partnership from the beginning, and continues to be. It was great immediately when we started working with 20th Century. We have to go and say ‘this is where we think we want to play the game. This is the exciting point on the timeline. ”The 20th Century team was all about making sure the timeline solidified and making sure things from the extended universe, like novels and comics, came together very closely. good “.

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One of the difficulties involved in designing a Colonial Marines-centric game is finding the balance between portraying the soldiers as capable and skilled fighters, while at the same time keeping the Xenomorphs as terrifying and deadly as they appear in the movies. This was a balance that Highison revealed was one of his favorite aspects of the experience, saying “we immediately saw it as one of the strengths and one of the opportunities that we have with this game, is to make it challenging and scary when you watch. the xenomorphs flying or coming out of the vents and attacking you and running towards the walls and chasing you for the rest of the mission … We did a lot in the game design so that you really have that challenge you expect with the franchise because it’s part of the IP to be terrified and have the waves of the Xenomorphs deliver it to you. “

Zinkievich explained that at the core of the game’s design, Cold Iron Studios had a very specific mindset: “to make sure you felt like a badass and then all of a sudden you didn’t. In the encounter design, the way you add xenomorphs to the world and the way we design and create the encounters in the world, there was always a guide that we followed … we are here in this category of survival horror. When you are in an encounter where there are hordes coming, we always wanted to make sure that There would be a moment at the beginning where you said, ‘I have this, oh yeah, we’re badass. We have this.’ Pushing that a little more to make the player feel safe and then saying, ‘oh no, you won’t.’ ” .

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Another interesting aspect was the opportunity for Cold Iron to put their own stamp on the Aliens franchise with the numerous types of aliens that will put players in danger. Highison explained that “we are huge fans of the series. We have almost a dozen Xenomorphs in the game, twenty types of enemies … From the variety of what you saw in the original trilogy, we were inspired by the novels and the comics. we looked at the crazy things that are done with toys … early 90’s toys were just insane. And then we thought, what are some exciting new ways for a Colonial Marine to die from one of these things .. . How can we exploit the interesting things that are in the Aliens universe without adding new things just to add them? We always went back to the core of the franchise and what makes these things terrifying. “

Considering the gameplay moments that players are most excited to see, Highison recalled how even playing himself, “I can head-shoot a Xenomorph-Warrior with an M41 and it looks – and feel – as a cinematic experience. That’s something that as a fan of Aliens, it feels great as a gamer to be able to do that. And you don’t get that in just any game. It’s a piece of nostalgia and a feat of modern game making that we can bring that experience to life in such a visceral way. “

For Zinkievich, one of the biggest moments as a fan came simply from having the ability to explore the massive universe of Aliens, close and personal. “The fandom, I think there are experiences within the game that I’m very excited for them to get their hands on. But I’m also excited for the super fans, to find some of the elements of the story, some of the little teen things that we did. here and there during the tide. Ancient, extended universe references to things in our game and showing those things. So I think these are complete gut experiences, that this is what it feels like to be a Colonial Marine. There were all the little things that they are just a fabric of the universe that I am very proud of what the team has done. “

Aliens: Squad It will be released on PC, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox One X in Summer 2021.

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