Warside Interview (PC)

Nick Horth chats to Kraken Games CEO Leonid Rastorguev about free-to-play sci-fi shooter Warside . Free-to-play side-scrolling sci-fi shooter Warside has been in open beta in Russia for a while now, but developers Kraken Games are also hoping to bring it to a wider international audience through Steam Greenlight. I spoke to CEO Leonid Rastorguev about the game.

Strategy Informer: First off, could you tell us a bit about Warside 's setting?

Leonid Rastorguev: It's kind of huge actually, we've written a lot, but to sum it up briefly there was once this huge galactic Empire who controlled the galaxy. There were several different Emperors, good and bad, but the last Emperor was quite a crazy guy. He went mad because his son was assassinated, and he introduced a lot of new laws, restrictions and so on, not all of which went down well amongst his subjects. And so there was a revolt, some workers from industrial planets started a revolt, and a huge corporation which wanted to increase its economic growth supported them, and these two factions appealed to a third, a collection of minor lords and aristocrats who wanted more power, and these three factions have overthrown the current government of the Empire. The three factions signed a peace treaty, but it didn't take long for them to start to battling each other for control of the new council.

Strategy Informer: Are there gameplay differences between those factions?

Leonid Rastorguev: For now it's mostly cosmetic, the factions have their own faction shops with different guns and armour styles, but it's not something really gameplay-changing.

Strategy Informer: What are your major inspirations behind Warside 's gameplay?

Leonid Rastorguev: It's hard to say a particular game, there's quite a lot of different inspirations. Actually our initial goal was to create something with quite simple gameplay and bring an RPG system into it. We chose a side-scroller because it's quite a simple gameplay concept, you're very aware of everything going on around your character, and you can react to things quickly. We liked the basis for the Polish game Soldat, and of course there's also some beautiful examples in the genre like Shadow Complex, so we've taken inspiration for our gameplay and graphics from those games.

Strategy Informer: So how do singleplayer and multiplayer work in the game?

Leonid Rastorguev: Actually we don't have any single-player in the current game, it's a completely co-operative title. To start a game you'll just go to the battle queue, get a team picked for you, and then you'll go into the level. Levels have plenty of mobs, traps, other encounters like gas-filled rooms and flying drones. And then at the end you'll face bosses like mechanical spiders or huge AI-controlled turrets. Everything you'd expect from a platform shooter.

Strategy Informer: Will you be playing through campaigns or individual levels?

Leonid Rastorguev: It's more like a quick battle. You can go in and choose a random battle or you can set some preferences, like “I want to play PVP now”, or “I want to play this type of level on this difficulty”. You'll get maps according to your preferences.

Strategy Informer: Is there a function for grouping and clan systems?

Leonid Rastorguev: Yeah, sure. There's a grouping system where you can invite other players to your party, voice-chat and so on, and you'll be put in battle with them. And of course there's clans, though currently that's quite simple, you can add your friends in there and then see who's online when you log in.

Strategy Informer: You mentioned RPG elements. How do those come into play?

Leonid Rastorguev: At the start you get to choose between four character types, they are different in the way they handle vertical movement. The Mercenary has a jetpack to help him cross gaps, while the Guardian has an anti-grav system that allows him to float straight up in the air and then shoot from above. The Faceless class is like cyber-ninja, he can stick to walls and use a double-jump to get higher. After that you choose a class, classes are more like roles. You have a tank, a medic, a soldier for straight damage and destroyer for AoE damage and control abilities.

Strategy Informer: Are there class weapon restrictions?

Leonid Rastorguev: There aren't really restrictions, just recommended weapons. If you play a certain character type you'll get skills for certain equipment types or weapons, but you're not restricted. If you're playing a light armour character you can use rocket launchers if you want, but maybe you'll be more successful if you use a sniper rifle.

Strategy Informer: What different weapon types can we expect?

Leonid Rastorguev: We've got ten classes of weapon at the moment; handgun, SMGs, machine-guns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, grenade launchers, special weapons like flame-throwers, melee weapons like knives and swords, and then the medics have a special weapon called a 'charger' which is used to recharge your team-mates shields. And then there's different weapons inside those classes, like plasma rifles and sonic rifles, acid-sprayers and freeze rays.

Strategy Informer: How do you get hold of these new weapons?

Leonid Rastorguev: It's more like a typical RPG, you can get them from shops or from a drop after a battle.

Strategy Informer: Is it viable to rely completely on melee?

Leonid Rastorguev: Yeah, we regard melee as its own class, it's not support, it's just as viable as everything else. It's risk reward – if you want to get up close it's dangerous but it's easier to kill your enemy.

Strategy Informer: What customisation options are there? Can we modify our weapons?

Leonid Rastorguev: Yeah there are some mods, you can upgrade your weapon and change its basic stats. For example you can, if you want, increase your clip size, but it's a trade-off that makes your reload times longer. Stuff like that.

Strategy Informer: What different modes for multiplayer will there be?

Leonid Rastorguev: For PvP modes they're all team-based, we don't have free-for-all deathmatch, so we have team deathmatch, which is quite simple, and then point control where you have to control points on the map and the first team to get a certain amount of control points wins, then we have resource-gathering, where resources will spawn in different areas of the map, and you have to bring them back to your base. You earn points for getting them back, but carrying them reduces your speed quite a lot, so it's hard to get them back safely without the support of your team.

Strategy Informer: Do you plan on adding other modes later?

Leonid Rastorguev: Yeah we have lots of plans, but at the moment I don't think I can say anything right now.

Strategy Informer: Is there faction vs. faction multiplayer?

Leonid Rastorguev: No, currently we don't have faction battles, because it would split the player base too much. We have plans to add a global galaxy control map, so each battle will change the balance of power between those factions.

Strategy Informer: And you plan on adding regular content updates?

Leonid Rastorguev: Yes, we plan to do some events, adding new content or new weapons and achievements. If you complete those achievements you might get access to new cosmetic gear, maybe new weapons and equipment.

Strategy Informer: Presumably there's in-game credits for buying new items?

Leonid Rastorguev: Yes of course, there's in-game cash. We have two kinds. As is typical for an MMORPG, you earn credits in game and can then spend them on new items. Then there's also tokens you get for daily achievements and particular tasks, and you can spend those on more high-quality gear.

Strategy Informer: You talked about weapons earlier, but what kind of gear can we buy? Will we be able to outfit our guys with jetpacks and so on?

Leonid Rastorguev: While jetpacks are actually an ability, so you can't switch that in for another class. But you will find new armour sets for the different classes, new guns with better stats, and you can get gadgets. Gadgets give you an action skill to use in battle, something like hand grenades, mines, stun traps or poison darts and so on. And recharging stations for shields that you can place.

Strategy Informer: Could you tell us about the different maps we'll be fighting on?

Leonid Rastorguev: Fortunately the setting behind the game is quite huge and the story quite big, so there are many different places to visit. We have hidden factories in the jungle, underground caverns, frozen planets, abandoned cathedrals and Las Vegas style city maps, ruins from a planet that was a battleground in the war and therefore is completely devastated. They're quite different, and they play very different as well, some of them have tight corridors, some have open areas and so on.

Strategy Informer: How long has Warside been out in Russia already?

Leonid Rastorguev: We launched the open beta at the end of last year, so it's been around six months.

Strategy Informer: And when is it hitting Europe and America?

Leonid Rastorguev: That will depend on our Greenlight campaign. We're currently taking votes on Greenlight, and hopefully we'll get voted in sometime soon. As soon as we get the all clear we'll start on localisation, firstly into English and then maybe some other languages too. I can't set an exact date right now, but hopefully we would be ready to go around two months after we complete the Greenlight process.

Many thanks to Leonid for chatting with me. You can check out the Warside Greenlight page if you'd like to find out more about the game, or vote for it to make onto Steam proper. (