During E3, we visited Focus Home Interactive’s booth and were given a presentation on several of the publisher’s upcoming games. Their upcoming action RPG Vampyr from Dontnod Entertainment featured fluid dialogue and combat mechanics and left such an impression that we put down our observations with an eye towards its future development. During Gamescom, we once again witnessed the slick title in action and had a chance to speak with Gregory Szucs, Art Director of Vampyr about the game’s design and mechanics.
Gregory: One thing about Dontnod, back from our first game Remember Me, we have a strong narrative backbone, a strong storyline, and really good gameplay that compliments the stories. It was very ambitious in Remember Me, more contained in Life is Strange, but we are still about strong story, but it’s different in Vampyr because of the situation we want to present to the player, so an action RPG lends itself better as a proper way to have the player resolve that.
Gregory: We learned a lot on Remember Me and did things differently. There’s no combo lab or combo building in Vampyr. The identify is very specific because the point of combat is to give a sense of what it’s like to kill people. Every time you drink someone’s blood you get very powerful very fast, so the combat is a stage where you can unleash your powers. The idea is the stronger you get the more powerful you get, you can dominate your enemies, so you may be tempted to kill more.
Gregory: Definitely more than firearms. Jonathan (the main character) used to be a soldier and officer in the army, and he is crafty. In the trenches they handmade their weapons like items to silently knock out opponents, so he is able to craft different things. He also has a bag of tools as a doctor that he can use, items like a hacking saw. There will also be firearms, shotguns as well, but they will all take a backseat for your vampiric powers to shine.
Gregory: It’s not really about armor. You’re a fantastic creature, humans are out to get you and you have to be prepared for them to act in groups. But you are not very concerned about armor, you are very powerful when you start. You are not going to use physical armor but some of the powers provide protection.
Gregory: There will be some ways to upgrade your equipment. Jonathan is crafty and experiments with things. As you learn more about the supernatural bestiary you encounter you will discover new weaknesses on species and can decide to adapt your weaponry.
Gregory: Your skill tree is really about your development as a vampire. It’s not going to be about field medicine or everyday skills like lore or investigation. It’s really about growing into a vampire so you will have different branches and you will decide between them. Some are more aggressive, combat based. Some are more among the shadows, some about powers.
Gregory: You don’t have a complicated character stat sheet you have to micromanage. You have your skill trees and abilities but we’re not trying to have the player do some math like an old school RPG calculation or min/maxing but they do have impact. To break someone’s will you have to have your mesmerising ability high enough to get some leverage in that force of will. So there are some checks.
Gregory: Single player experience, it’s the only way it makes sense.
Gregory: It goes along with what kind of story we wanted to tell. It’s a very specific point in time because the first World War was the first massive war with casualties, the French war was really completely new and then the Spanish epidemic was the worst the world has ever known and those were trying times for the world. Medicine was also progressing. During flu epidemic, with all the advances and new possibilities in medicine, they feel that they can explain everything away with science. This happened with Jonathan, and he realized there are other things different now, there are supernatural elements and this is a splinter in his mind and he has to reconcile everything. It was the perfect time to explore the journey of becoming a vampire because they are a thinking creature unlike a zombie, and a story about the fragility of man and the fragility of a doctor thinking he can explain everything with science. This was the place and time that made sense to gather all these things.
Gregory: We took the point in time that was relevant to the story and gathered all the historical reference. We studied the architecture, and topology to get that London feel. The idea was never to create a 1:1 scale of London. It’s a similar area. We have to balance the sense of freedom with not taking too long, or making it boring or wasteful making every street, every neighborhood of London with that being detrimental to the story. So it’s a lot of space, but not a 1:1, but you definitely get that London feel.
Vampyr is scheduled to release sometime next year on PS4, Xbox One and PC. Until then, keep checking back for more news and development updates!