Space Marine 2 creative director Oliver Hollis-Leick

Space Marine 2 creative director Oliver Hollis-Leick reveals new details about the new multiplayer modes and confirms crossplay
Space Marine 2 creative director Oliver Hollis-Leick reveals new details about the new multiplayer modes and confirms crossplay

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine 2 looks to be one of the most exciting action games to come out this year. Ahead of its launch on September 9, 13 years after the first installment came out, Focus Entertainment and Saber Interactive have revealed all the multiplayer options included in the surprisingly meaty package, and we’ve had a chance to sit down and chat with creatives. director Oliver Hollis-Leick about it.

Following Relic Entertainment’s original third-person shooter with hack-n-slash elements, Saber brings extensive experience from renowned IPs such as World War Z and Evil Dead to the project. Additionally, Hollis-Leick, whose resume is also filled with major Saber projects, is a renowned figure in the field of motion capture. This adds a special touch to his overall vision that we also briefly discussed.

First of all, and after watching the just-released Space Marine 2 multiplayer trailer, I was wondering if he and his team had looked at some classics from the PS3/360 era, like Uncharted 2, which was released from the beginning . filled with multiplayer-based content that was clearly largely composed of assets already created for the campaign rather than betting on ‘seasonal drops’ and live service updates that ‘completed’ the games or kept them running for a long time after the launch grew.

“There’s just this recognition that people are tired of that kind of thing, you know, you pay for something and you get 75% of it and then you have to pay for the extra later. It’s like we wanted to put out a full game with all the modes that people would expect and, you know, we made all these great toys, and it was a case of, let’s find as many ways to play with it as possible,” Hollis-Leick admits. While they don’t have anything official to share about the content after the game launches, they aren’t ruling it out either. But the plan is to come out swinging the old-fashioned way, it seems.

Space Marine 2 creative director Oliver Hollis-Leick reveals new details about the new multiplayer modes and confirms crossplay

Looking at the surprise reveal of a 6v6 player-versus-player mode, which will surely have most fans excited, we at GameWatcher also wondered if the team had ever considered going bigger and creating the large-scale battlefields we have to double. featured in the campaign images released so far. The creative director makes a compelling case for why that could have potentially been a waste of time and resources:

“We had invested so much in all this swarm technology with the Tyranids and all that, and we have a lot of assets… So we could have gone for a big battlefield, but… players naturally focus on the sort of vendetta aspect of it, of just being the other player find it and take him out. I think over time we decided to maximize that aspect of things… It would be tempting to add the rest of the decoration, but I think in the end it would still be missed.” And if you’re wondering how long the game will last in recent weeks, you’ll be happy to hear directly from the publisher that crossplay will be available between all platforms.

Space Marine 2 also appears to have a strong customization component tied to character progression, both in co-op and PvP modes. The look at that part of the MP side of the game is brief in the trailer, so I asked if we’re going to get an ‘army painter’ type approach to it or a simpler version of putting on skins and new pieces of armor and such .

Hollis-Leick points out that it’s a bit tricky because of the potential of “People who abuse the system and do all kinds of crazy things,” but it sounds like we’ll get quite a few options either way: “We approached it as if this was the tabletop and we were miniature collectors… what would we want to be able to do with this? We want to paint them the way we want to paint them. We want to put the stickers and accessories in the right place. We want to be able to choose how we position things on the body… So we tried to bring that feeling to the in-game adjustments as well.”

Of course, the issue of customization and giving players the ability to come up with their own designs also leads to the question of how much freedom the IP owner, in this case Games Workshop, is willing to give to its partners. Hollis-Leick doesn’t shy away from outright confirming that things are strict when it comes to what can and can’t be done with Warhammer 40K:

“Games Workshop is very strict about what appears in their universe and how it is depicted… We can’t make things up. It just doesn’t work that way.” He says most of the process is about “digging” and working with them to figure out what can be put into the game. “down to the smallest detail.” It’s not unusual for new Star Wars games to unleash their creatives in collaboration with Lucasfilms Story Group, but it seems Games Workshop is being much more selective about who puts what into the 40K canon.

Space Marine 2 creative director Oliver Hollis-Leick reveals new details about the new multiplayer modes and confirms crossplay

Perhaps the biggest surprise in our conversation was hearing how they tie the co-op operations, which can be played with up to two other players, into the main campaign’s story:

“As you progress through the story, Titus will encounter challenges that he cannot achieve alone with his two teammates. Therefore, he is given command of smaller teams and can send them out to achieve these other objectives. But they’re not just fire and forget. He stays in radio contact with them during those missions, and so in the story campaign you hear these box conversations between Titus and the team. And then you go to the other side playing that mission as those other team members and hearing the same conversations from the other side.

The main idea behind the operations, which add even more co-op content to the game, is to offer “multiple perspectives on the same war,” and they will not be separated from the main experience, but added to it.

“Once you complete the story campaign, the PvE missions continue to evolve and change with a mix of different enemy types and different objectives,” he adds without going into further details.

Regarding the postponement from ‘winter 2023’ to September 9, 2024, a date that remains pending for the time being, Hollis-Leick said the following: “I have to tell you, it wasn’t easy to get that extension… These things fall in financial years, and people want them to come out on time, but our game director [Dima] was convinced that he wanted to release this game in a finished state, so we worked hard on it. It was great to see the fans’ reaction to that. They are grateful that we wanted to take the extra time.” He also adds that more and more internal testing is taking place, with a lot of work not only being put into polishing, but also in practice “fine-tune everything” before September.

Space Marine 2 creative director Oliver Hollis-Leick reveals new details about the new multiplayer modes and confirms crossplay

As previously mentioned, Hollis-Leick has a long resume as a mo-cap actor and writer, so I was curious to see how that affected his role as creative director on Space Marine 2 (and Jurassic Park: Survival) and the project as a whole.

“One of my strengths, based on my background, is story and character. I’ve spent years studying the story and characters, and I’ve been writing games for twelve years now… I could really make sure the story was as good as it could be, but motion capture is mainly about physicality… Space Marines are three meters tall juggernauts, and so I was able to think about them from that perspective of ‘How do they move? How can we get the maximum amount of power out of these guys?’ And for the motion capture shots, we put the actors in American football pads, and we put on these huge heavy military boots and big guns, and they had helmet-mounted main cameras and batteries and stuff.

I also brought up the aspect of sound design and mixing in video games that present ‘heavy’ characters and how sometimes that element isn’t quite there, resulting in hulking creatures that end up feeling floaty. So far that doesn’t seem to be a problem in Space Marine 2. On the contrary.

“The sound design is crucial. For every type of terrain that we have in the game, we have a whole range of sound effects, just for the way it sounds when the boots are whizzing through the thick mud of the swamp or on that thick marble or on the metal or whatever crash. it is. Plus the sound of the moving joints, the servos and the magnetic fields… A lot of attention was paid to it from a sound perspective.”

To wrap things up, and also looking to the future of both Hollis-Leick and Saber Interactive working with famous IPs, I delved further into how the entire creative process of a big game changes when you interact with the toys someone else’s work. The creative director was very eloquent about how difficult but ultimately rewarding it is to find a balance:

“You have to approach it from a perspective of respect. They allow you to enter that world and make things, but you also have to have the courage to propose new ideas and new possibilities and possibly challenge the licensees… That whole process of diplomacy is very delicate… The same goes for Jurassic Park of course… I think it’s the attention to detail, the digging, and the kind of trust you build with the licensee that is crucial to that process.’

So far, it seems like the folks at Saber have nailed what makes the Space Marines the undisputed icon of the Warhammer 40K franchise, and underneath all the cutting-edge tech we’re getting a glimpse of a traditional, straight-to-point experience that would be just could be what players – both diehard fans and casual gamers – have long asked from a major third-person shooter. I haven’t been able to get confirmation on whether there will be a multiplayer beta or not, but either way, I can’t wait to see what the overall package looks and feels like on September 9th.

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine 2 is a current-gen exclusive and will be released for PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC via Steam and the Epic Games Store.

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