Guerrilla Game’s Lead Designer Eric Boltjes Talks Killzone: Shadow Fall DLC and Development

With only a few weeks to go before Guerrilla Games’ next game, Killzone: Shadow Fall launches, PlayStation LifeStyle’s Dan Oravasaari got to sit down with Lead Designer Eric Boltjes and talk about the upcoming title.

What was your inspiration for setting Killzone: Shadow Fall in the future?

We knew pretty early on that we were going to be on a new platform, that kind of opened up the realm of new possibilities and a lot of the people at Guerrilla have been working on Killzone for 8 to 10 years, so we decided to freshen things up. But, those two things combined, allowed us to take a step back and look at what is the next step? What is the next thing that we want to do? As I said during my presentation, it is all about adding more depth, adding more choices, more options to the player. It is always tricky to understand what people will expect from next-gen, I definitely think it is more depth and gameplay options.

What was the reasoning to make Killzone: Shadow Fall instead of simply making it Killzone 4?

With a new theme, with a new hero, with it being 30 years in the future, it almost felt out of place to call it Killzone 4. It is something new, so we wanted to give it a specific title as well. We felt that giving it a new identity by calling it Shadow Fall.

The audience for Killzone has always been fairly split, what steps have you made to draw in gamers that haven’t responded as well to the franchise?

Again, we are opening things up a bit more. For example, in the multiplayer, instead of saying ‘hey, this is the box product, this is why you should play’ we’re saying ‘hey, here’s a huge range of options, go figure out for yourself what you want to play.’ Because, when you ultimately look at a gamer audience, even within the Killzone fans, people like specific bits and hate the other bits and that enlarges when you look at the entire gaming community. So, I think the key to developing a good game, that more people like, is just about opening up what it is that you are selling, but we still want to keep it a Killzone game, we have a unique identity through the movement, through the weightiness and through the visuals. I think if you open up to different play styles, you open up to a larger audience.

During the presentation, you spoke about having multiple options when playing through the campaign and how you can pick the order you complete objectives. Will there be any penalty for choosing any single path over another?

Penalty is a large word, it just plays out differently. The example I gave is if you turn off the Comms Tower, that means that all alarms are turned off for the rest of the level, which will make your life easier. But, you still need to get to the Comms Tower in the first place, so you will need to take care of all the enemies that are there. So, it is not so much a penalty, as a bonus, but it plays out differently and that goes through multiple levels and encounters, where you go left, you go right, you pick and choose and it plays out differently because of it.

Will this have any effect on how the story ends?

No, the story is linear in the sense that you have key moments in the story, cutscenes and all of that kind of stuff that you ultimately funnel back into. It is the space in between that we find really interesting, you have a story moment and you have story moment number 2, but in-between you can have an hour of gameplay. That’s where we kind of go, ‘hey, let’s go wide, let’s open up the possibilities for people to go left, right or center.’ That’s where I think the gameplay space is.

You said that for multiplayer, all of the core weapons will be unlocked right from the start, but what was the reasoning behind that? And will there be any other unlockable weapons that are not apart of the core?

All of the weapons, but they are basic, without scopes, etc… that is unlocked. You can pick any weapon in the game from the get go, but you can specialize. So, you can complete specific challenges to the weapon to unlock new secondary fires, new scopes, new ways to see how that weapon works. And, the reason why we did that was two fold, the first being is that we wanted as much longevity out of it as possible. What happens a lot in games is that, people start playing, they get better and higher ranks, but the people that are joining later are like ‘well, that guy is level 80 and he has the sniper rifle, I have no chance.’ We wanted to get rid of that, we wanted to get a level playing field where everyone had the same kind of options. It is still specialized, but the basics are the same.

Another reason why we wanted to do that was it opens up the ability to find your play style really quickly. Personally, I like to play as support, I like to support my friends, revive them and give covering fire. I’m the lead designer of an FPS, but I’m not that good at shooters, hahaha. I am not that great at headshots and stuff like that, so I am more of a supportive role. If I then, as a gamer, need to play 40 to 50 hours till I can do that, to me it is less interesting. That was why we wanted to open it up and let you go right to your play style, then be able to master it. The longevity comes from mastering that gameplay.

I actually really like the concept.

I hope a lot of people will.

The map-packs for multiplayer will be launching for free, have you determined the release schedule for when we will start to see these roll out?

It is difficult to pick out dates, but we want frequent updates, whether it is patches, new content or new map packs, we want frequent updates. We feel that, if you wait too long people will lose interest. So, I can’t give any specific dates, but think months not years. Hopefully, lots of content after we ship.

Will you be planning any single player DLC?

No, nothing like that is planned yet. Currently, we have two things planned, which is multiplayer expansions and our announced co-op expansion, which will be apart of the season pass.

What are you most proud about with how Killzone: Shadow Fall has turned out?

As a game designer, what I am most proud of is the core feature of the game, the OWL, is tied into the new platform via the controller. When the first told me that I was going to have a touch pad on the controller, I was like ‘what am I going to do with that? It’s a touch pad.’ But, I’m really proud of how we combined the core player choice, all the options you have in single player go into that mechanic and that improves how you play. It is so quick to swipe and choose modes, etc…, I’m really proud of that, because that means a new platform, new ways to control it and we have core gameplay experience that fits that. If you ask an artist on my team, they may say something completely different, but that’s what I’m voting for.

We would like to thank Eric Boltjes and everyone at both Guerrilla Games and Sony for helping set up this interview.