Next co-op shooter Aliens: Fireteam Elite is one of the most anticipated games of the year, as die-hard fans eagerly await the next opportunity to charge into the hive. Cold Iron Studios co-founder Craig Zinkievich spoke to CBR about the recent preview of Elite fire team, which provides information on the inspiration, development and future of the latest entry in the Alien franchise.

Aliens: Fireteam Elite borrows from predecessors of its kind such as Left 4 Dead to offer players a fast-paced cooperative experience that swaps the undead and ruined cities for Xenomorphs and space. Set in 2202, the game takes the franchise forward for the first time since the original film trilogy and allows players to build and customize their own Colonial Marine.

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So if we’re talking about Aliens, I must start by asking, movie-wise, are you a fan of Alien or Aliens?

I love you all, and that sounds like an escape, but this is how I rationalize it as a fan: I really think that each of the movies is a different genre. Everything takes place in the same universe, but each one is a different genre. So obviously Ridley Scott Alien, that’s just a hardcore horror movie, right? It is full of suspense and is a monster that constantly stalks. That is a horror movie and I love it as a horror movie. Aliens, it’s an action movie, right? It’s over the top, it’s cool, it’s suspenseful and horror, it’s got Xenomorphs, obviously, but it’s an action movie. My theory continues where Alien 3 it’s more of a drama; it’s much more about the people and interactions there than it is about the Xenomorph itself. Then i put Resurrection like the art movie by the director and some of the decisions that were made there, but I love them all. I think they are all fantastic.

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Obviously when we started working with 21st Century, they were like, ‘Okay, what kind of game do you want to make?’ and we immediately gravitate towards Aliens. Mainly because we think that this is something that is missing; this is a game missing from the pantheon and something that we as fans of the franchise really wanted to play.

So why is Cold Iron Studios a good fit for the Aliens franchise?

I would go back to the pedigree we gathered here. The games that the executive team, myself included, have created in the past have always taken RPG elements and then pushed the gameplay beyond what people expect. Games like Star trek online, City of heroes, Never winter, they are your stalwart MMORPGs, but they add action and a more visceral gameplay. In essence, that’s the drive for the Cold Iron team. To go out there and get the most visceral moment-to-moment gameplay that feels just amazing, right?

And that’s how we created Cold Iron. So we started with the idea of ​​making action-oriented games with role-playing elements and gravitating towards the cooperative survival shooter genre is something we love and really embrace. We love Left 4 Dead, we love World War Z, we love Vermintide, those are the types of games we like to play, and when we were given the opportunity to work with him Alien franchise, it was just an easy fit.

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Was there an “aha” moment that led to Aliens: Fireteam Elite?

Yes! Obviously, I think we sat down and looked at what was possible with the Aliens franchise. We looked at the types of technology and the type of work that Cold Iron and our team of online shooters and developers had in our back pocket, and we looked at the types of games that we really enjoyed making and playing and we thought, ‘Yeah, let’s do this. Obviously must be Aliens, let’s do that. “

What kind of influences did you draw from the Aliens movies, books, and other media?

We are fortunate to be able to work on a franchise that we are huge fans of, so it didn’t stop at the Aliens Movie (s. We went through all the movies to see what kind of elements we could bring into the game. Obviously, Aliens: Fireteam Elite It is set to 2202, so it is in the future. We move on with the timeline. 21st Century Fox is really excited about making sure we move forward on the timeline, but making sure everything is tied together. We were also the ones who brought all the things we love out of the franchise, which is not just the movies themselves, but the comics, the novels, even the figures and toys, and we try to put as much content as possible. that in the game as possible. For fans of the franchise to really find those things.

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What about other video games?

I think the co-op survival shooter genre is amazing and in essence that’s what Aliens: Fireteam Elite it is. It’s a game where you can get together with your friends and dive into some amazing, bombastic and over the top action. That foundation for this exists across genres, and for us, it was about incorporating other things that, as fans of these types of games, we’d say, “Oh, wouldn’t it be great if this game had …” Obviously that means Xenomorphs and the things that come with that, which is having to worry about tracking enemies on walls and ceilings and flanking you and being a little smarter than zombies, right?

It also brings things like, “Oh man, I want to be the Marine. I don’t want to play a character. I want to be a Marine, I want to be able to level up, I want to be able to have a career.” So by incorporating those RPG elements as well, where you get more weapons, upgrades with those weapons, and you can customize them. It was about taking the core of the genre and then finding the things that aren’t in that genre, and we thought, “We want these things in that genre! So let’s move on.”

There are five classes in the game; What inspired your equipment and skills?

In its center, Aliens Fireteam Elite it’s that cooperative survival shooter, right? The core of a class-based cooperative survival shooter is making sure that each of the classes has a different combat role that works very well with the others, that there is a lot of synergy between them. So if you look at all four classes in the preview, you have the Gunner, who is just about putting out tons of firepower and helping his team put out a lot of firepower. You have the Demolisher who is awesome and makes huge huge blasts and stuff, but he really does take care of crowd control, he is taking care of large swaths of the enemy and clearing areas as quickly as possible. You have the technician who has the most to do with controlling the battlefield, setting up safe areas for your teammates to work on. Then you have Doc, who is the unconditional support, healer, right? So it’s really about making sure that to make the game really fun, you choose roles that are self-sustaining but also have really good synergy with each other.

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Something that I really like about Fireteam Elite is the challenge card system. How did this idea come about?

It was the whole idea of ​​mission mutators and the never-ending thought of “Okay, we have this really cool mission.” All missions in Aliens: Fireteam Elite They have variations within them – the spawns change, there are heuristics that react to how you play it, but there are a host of additional ideas that developers have. “Let’s do it in Noir mode, what would it be like?” or “What would it be like if all the enemies were explosive?” or what would it be like if you died as soon as you fell or only had a gun? That led to the challenge card system. It’s like, why don’t we do all these things and then put them in the hands of the player himself, where they can win these cards and then play them however they see fit. Let’s try this out in Hardcore mode with this additional card that makes things a bit more difficult and see if we can get through or just have fun and make something weird happen while we play.

On a similar note, the skill system is refreshingly unique. Did it always look like this or did it evolve throughout development?

Oh sure, everything goes through changes during development, and as I was saying, a lot of the developers at Cold Iron Studios, not only do we have a lot of action and online and shooter experience; There’s also a lot of RPG experience, and that was one of the things we wanted to incorporate. The profit grid, the way you manage profit in the space, was an idea one of the developers had here. We really did and prototyped it to see what it was like and we realized the level of simplicity you get, much more than a traditional perk tree where you say, “Yeah, I’m opening these skills, maybe I understand to choose these. “. There are many more options as you try to deal with this two dimensional puzzle while unlocking and using these things.

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Can players expect DLC or additional content after launch?

We’ll talk more about the roadmap later before launch, but the Deluxe Edition, which is available to pre-order right now, has additional cosmetic DLC coming out for the first year, and those coincide with other releases. in the game.

What did you want to include in Aliens: Fireteam Elite that didn’t make the cut?

I can’t think of one thing or one great mechanic. I think there are so many little things that we try to include, in terms of references or linking things from the rest of Aliens universe. I think even though there are hundreds and hundreds (of references) in the game for the eagle-eyed fan, there are still dozens and dozens left on the cutting room floor because ‘Oh, we couldn’t finish that part of Endeavor, ‘the battleship you’re based on, or’ Oh, we couldn’t carry out this part of that mission in time. ‘ So I think it’s probably all the little things that I was hoping that we were going to participate as a fan in that, who knows, maybe in the future.

Aliens: Fireteam Elite is developed by Cold Iron Studios and published by Cold Iron Studios in conjunction with Focus Home Interactive. Aliens: Fireteam Elite releases for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X / S on August 24, 2021. The title is now available for pre-order.

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