A few days before the madness that is Gamescom descended upon me like a red mist, there was a chance to talk about something bright and cheerful. Then that chance was hunted down and devoured for its biomass by the scuttling biological horrors that are the Tyranids. Tyranids will form the PvE content for Eternal Crusade. So without further ado, here’s what Nathan Richardsson had to say to us on the forces of the Hive Mind.
Jonathan: A lot of the player focus has been on the PvP campaigns. Fighting the Orks, dealing with the Eldar, the eternal grudge match that is Imperium and Chaos. How much fighting will people be doing to keep the Great Devourer off all of our backs while trying to murder one another?
Nathan: There will be a great deal of fighting the Great Devourer. You see, we believe that even a PvP game needs to have an element of PvE in it, for those days that you don’t feel like collecting teef or crushing soulstones. Perhaps you just want to lay back, progress your character, and enter into an impossible situation with your friends, before you enter the Fortress siege.
We don’t really like to talk about post-launch as our entire focus is on closed Alpha and getting founders into the game. However, to paint a picture that explains the modularity, it’s a great way to expand the game.
So if we add guild cruisers, it’s not just the Chaos Space Marines that can invade it, but also Tyranids. You could have servitors on board that allow you to customize your weapons further or faster, that you need to protect. We try to develop an extensible environment because we’re an online game, which will continuously evolve and expand.
Having a PvE element is crucial to being able to do that post-launch, as well as the road to an open world that we’re working towards. We believe an open world isn’t just about driving the scenic route between outposts, but it has dynamic encounters on that drive. Think Mad Max, being attacked on the road, except everyone has much bigger teeth. Again, this is dream time – not real time. First things first.
Jonathan: Tyranids are amongst the worst infestations. Really only Tweens are worse. Are we looking at a splinter fleet or just vanguard organisms? (Genestealers yay!)
Nathan: The good thing about Tyranids is they are extendable. We can start small and expand, to pretty damn huge creatures. Are they alone or more coming? You’ll see one night, as they do play a large part in how we move forward what’s happening on Arkhona.
Jonathan: What sort of impact do you hope the Tyranids will have on the main campaign? Are they a balancing force if one side gets too strong?
We certainly intend on them playing a big part, not just something to jump into or encounter, they are certainly a part of what we want to wield as a balancing force. I mean, if you don’t tend to your garden – or in our case – territories – some aliens will always appear and eat you up. With a Tyranid infestation, they have the potential to do severe damage if that faction doesn’t divert their resources (that is, players) to countering the threat.
The Tyranids are a constant menace. At one point this menace can take the the shape of a massive invasion or some burst of Tyranids taking some outpost and territories behind the front line randomly. An invasion is nothing less but Tyranids attacking every factions’ back. They will cut the supply lines, remove support for the troop and stop an offensive. And invasion is a good opportunity for us to reshuffle the cards of the Meta game.
Jonathan: A Carnifex walks into a bar and bio plasmas everything into soup. What biological scuttling horror would you most like to have in game?
Nathan: If you were in a bar, and a Carnifex was on the way into it, you sure you would stay around to see what happens, and what you would like next?
What about … Zoanthropes? A kind of Doom of Malan’tai vicious Powerful Psychic Tyranid. Difficult to imagine something worse… unless…
Jonathan: Will the synapse creature organisation from the tabletop show up in the enemy AI?
Nathan: Yes and no. That means, yes it is of course in there as it is what unites them. But how we apply it, through AI motions, part of the maps and game modes, we’ll see. I think it’s more for the later stages though, as we add more units and deeper AI, game modes etc.
As it’s designed right now, Synapse Creatures can send groups of Tyranids towards specific characters rather than them just relying on their hate mechanics, and then if the Synapse Creature dies, bad things happen to all the minions nearby.
Jonathan: What bonuses, apart from not being turned into bio slurry for the hive, should people expect for fending off the Tyranids?
Nathan: You get to live. I would have thought that was enough reward… But since you ask, think of them more as a disrupting force in general, rather than a force that you gain from winning – in the territorial conquest that is. Of course, you progress from playing PvE but a lot of it will be part of what disrupts you, from keeping territory, from achieving goals in campaigns.
Of course you also get progression rewards, but unless the Tyranids are the primary threat to your faction (determined by events & how close you are to losing territories to them) you’ll get fewer rewards than you would from doing PvP.
PvErs will get progression rewards for keeping the Tyranids at bay, but the PvP will be more rewarding. By order of importance: best rewards come from the campaign objectives, then PvP, then PvE. But the PvE rewards are more predictable, and the PVE is always available on demand. Some campaign objectives might require players to fight Tyranids. In that case, we fall into the “best reward” category.
Jonathan: Have you ever had the temptation to sneak a Lictor or two into a PvP battle just to cause mayhem?
Nathan: What a silly question. Of course. Yes Lictors are great. We will have them eventually, just not in the first batch. But mainly a Carnifex or three.
Jonathan: Worse than Lictors, will players come face to face with Genestealers and should we be worried about dark corners and vents?
Nathan: No, plenty of games out there which evolve around that kind of game play, and we have to be careful to be realistic in what we can achieve at any given time. But game modes in the dark? Check. Corners? Check. Tyranids? Check. Big ass Tyranid eating your tank, behind the corner, in the dark? Who knows. Perhaps that Carnifex with the munchies is actually a player we dropped into your PvE experience.
Jonathan: Tyranids will be with us at launch. Will they be something rarely seen while the hive grows and everyone is starting out? Or should we get the Deathwatch in to clean up a landing space?
Nathan: Nope, the Tyranids are pretty much on the planet already trying to eat your face. The Deathwatch would not be able to fend them off, since even the four factions there already are having big problems. Makes you think what everyone is there for and what they want, huh?
Jonathan: What part of the Tyranid campaign is your favourite? Clearly the answer should be the fact that they’re really Necrons but if it has to be Tyranids, what takes the cake for you?
Nathan: You know very well that the cake is a lie and Tyranids are more part of everything, instead of the main driver. But if the cake isn’t a lie, I’m going to have my cake and eat it.
There you have it. I.. I think he’s a Nid player. Emperor help us all.Related: Developer, Eternal Crusade, Interview, Warhammer 40k