It’s been awhile since we last touched on the multiplayer shooter Nosgoth, but it’s gone through quite a number of changes since the Closed Beta phase. One of the more recent updates included the new Beastmaster human class, addition of daily challenges, and the implementation of the Ping 2.0 system. In order to breakdown a few of the more recent changes, and chat about the future of the game, we discussed Nosgoth with design director Bill Beacham, Psyonix lead artist Eric Majka, and Grant Tasker from Square Enix.
How has Nosgoth changed since it initially entered the Open Beta?
Eric: We tried to get in a lot of the fundamental classes and some of the ones we had always wanted to lay the foundations of the game. A lot of the general systems for vampire traversal and balance. Since then, it’s been an expansion not only of the general gameplay but filling in what we perceived as holes in the various classes. We never wanted the game to be anything like League of Legends where they have hundreds of different classes.
The game has always been team-based so a lot of it is about what does the opponent’s team have in terms of class makeup. So we always wanted every class to be versatile without stepping on each other’s toes. A lot of the development since then has been expanding either within the class, maybe giving a class a new skill to help them, or something where we could introduce a class that would bring something vastly different to the game.
With Legacy of Kain lore, especially for vampires, there’s a lot that’s already been fleshed out and we have been bringing that into the game, and the people who are big fans of the history of Nosgoth as a world will maybe get their favorite clan. Artistically, we’ve added more maps, and we expanded things like the daily challenges to earn in-game rewards.
Bill: We public tested a few game modes in that time. We’ve done 5v5 deathmatch, capture the body, flashpoint, and added the Crucible. It’s been a substantial content increase. We’ve added crafting. It’s evolved across the board as well as tuning, bug fixing, tweaking, balancing, all the things you do in any live game.
What have been some of the biggest challenges while developing Nosgoth in Early Access?
Eric: A lot of it was trying to find classes that fill holes while not stepping on each other. It plays into the balance of everything. You want every class and character to be meaningful so you have to be careful how you balance it. Especially with the game being a-symmetrical, every time you introduce something new, even if it’s one skill for one class, you have to be very careful how it effects every aspect of gameplay. So we have playtests constantly to make sure everything is as balanced as possible before release.
Bill: Because the team chose to make something that was different means that everything we’ve added to the game has to take into account the unique nature of the game design from the classes to the a-symmetrical combat to the way that vampires move around the map. A lot of the traditional solutions to content in multiplayer PvP games just doesn’t really apply here whether it’s a game mode or an ability. It’s not just two groups of guys firing bullets at each other in a series of corridors. It’s uniquely challenging.
How does the Beastmaster class fit into the lore of Nosgoth while providing new game mechanics?
Bill: So from the lore point of view, as with all the human classes, there’s a lot less to go on. The games in the past have focused more on the vampires and you’ve seen glimpses of what the humans have been up to. So we looked at characters from the past, heroic figures or legends, and thought about how much their knowledge would have passed down. The humans have gone through a lot of subjugation and lost a lot of what they knew, whether that’s science, religion or history. We wanted it to make sure that it felt authentic, so it’s been a bit of a balancing act.
We didn’t want them to be just kind of tree-hugging hippies, that wouldn’t fit within Nosgoth. So they’ve got a very pragmatic and kind of bloody-minded approach. If they have to burn down a forest to take out a few vampires then fine. They’re very much a tooth and claw kind of ideal. There aren’t any kind of good guys out there. They’re all very ruthless and dedicated, violent people. Even though they’re fighting what feels like a good cause to them, they’re ready to sacrifice for the greater good.
Looking at what magical, and historical, traditions existed within Nosgoth they couldn’t feel like druids from Dungeons & Dragons or Warcraft. We made them very powerful, short-ranged combatants and we gave them shotguns, effectively blunderbusses. We experimented with them being a pet master with a hunting bird, but we realized it was more fun if they could shift form themselves.
We gave them the supernatural ability to shift into a bird of prey, which lets them navigate the map in a way that’s very different than before for humans. It gives them new opportunities to hunt down vampires, but it comes with a risk. It’s opened up the battlefields a lot and given humans a new weapon in their arsenal as a team, but you still have to play as a team.
How does the upcoming Rahabim vampire class fit into the game?
Bill: From a gameplay point of view, we’re focusing on their role as a special forces soldier. It’s about manipulating the battlefield, setting up attacks and the deployment of the team to her advantage. She still needs to get in there and get her hands dirty, but it’s making sure that she does it at a time of maximum advantage and her choosing. She’s still being iterated on, but she’s very nimble, mobile, and we’re experimenting with area denial. There’s potentially a high skill-cap to her, which we’re looking at to make sure she remains accessible but still has enough depth that our hardcore players will find that she offers a lot.
Eric: If you look at Rahab himself, from the original games, he was very amphibious and where Nosgoth is set we needed to push it back in the timeline, so we couldn’t go completely fish-like. We did add in elements of that, which kind of give hints as to where the future progression of the clan is going to be.
So for her, some of the obvious ones would be (of course she’s still a general humanoid) slight gills in various places and some of the various skins have her mouth pushed back to give more of a fish or reptile look. Other than that, all of her skins up to this point lean themselves towards a very mobile, light fighter. She’s very lightly armored, which works wonderfully when you she her moving around the map. She’s still a vampire, so there’s still some elements of it which are very ornamental.
An issue I noticed while playing Nosgoth this weekend was long queue timers, especially for “New Recruits,” and many games ended up being imbalanced. How do you plan to address this system when the game comes out of early access?
Bill: The issue there is largely one of player count. Until we come out of early access we’re not focused on pulling in a lot of new players. When we do there will be more people to match against. There are two ways to address that problem. You can loosen the parameters that it’s searching, so that it matches players of a wider range of skill. It means you get into a game earlier, but maybe that you’re against players you outclass or that outclass you.
As you’re searching for a game it’s doing that behind the scene, but there’s a limit to what we want to do there to ensure we have as good a match as we can. The other thing is having more players to match you against. When we come out of early access, and focus on boosting the population count that will help. We’re constantly looking at the matchmaking algorithms. There’s lots of numbers we can play with, but it’s making sure we don’t veer too far in any one direction.
Nosgoth is showing a lot of eSports potential through ESL and with the introduction of Nosgoth Leagues. How has the Nosgoth competitive community evolved?
Grant: Nosgoth Leagues was designed to reward our most dedicated and skilled players. It also offers a large section of our community an opportunity to get in-game content, whether it’s skins or chest keys and giving them away on a regular basis. When you have a game that’s in Early Access over a long period of time, you have some really high-skill level players and we’re not actively trying to bring in new players. This is very much looking at the high-end and rewarding our most dedicated players. What we can say so far is that the Nosgoth Leagues has been really promising. It’s very much an ongoing development and we’ll continue to take feedback from the community to improve that feature.
In regards to ESL, what Nosgoth Leagues doesn’t offer that ESL does is full four-player team (with subs) tournament structures. We’ve been working with ESL for some time now running Nosgoth Beta cups during the early access phase. We’ll obviously monitor that and the desire for it. It’s about where the community wants to take it next. ESports gets thrown around a lot and it’s very easy to jump on that bandwagon, but it’s clear to us that unless the players want to take it in that direction it’s a very careful road to tread. We’re testing the waters and we’ll take it where the community wants to go next.
Is a lot of balancing in Nosgoth based on high-level play?
Bill: It would be wrong to balance it entirely around those guys. They operate at a level of skill that’s a-typical. It’s more of a case that they’re the guys that will pick up on exploits or particular combinations of character loadouts. Obviously, we want the game to be as accessible as it can be to everyone. It’s part of the reason for the Leagues rewards, for example. We didn’t want to just put in a high-end cash prize for the very best players because that rules out a lot of people. It’s a balancing act between accessibility and making sure there’s enough depth and strategy for our long-term players.
We appreciate the time you took to speak with us today. Is there anything you would like to add or say to our readers?
Bill: What excited us about this game from the very start was the fact that it was challenging. By that, I mean these guys didn’t take the easy path of making just another multiplayer shooter. It’s like, okay we’re going to make a multiplayer game where half the team can climb anything and one can fly. It’s scary, but it’s also really exciting because it gives you an experience you don’t get in other games.
That’s what attracted us about the idea and I think is what gives Nosgoth its unique identity. It’s not just that it’s part of the Legacy of Kain franchise. That gives us a great ambiance, atmosphere and history we can draw on, but the gameplay experience is something different. We hope that is what is going to appeal to players.
Nosgoth is currently available through the official website or it can be downloaded through Early Access on Steam. The game is free-to-play with in-game microtransactions that can speed up the leveling process or help to unlock new classes and skins. The most recent patch for Nosgoth released on Monday, March 14, and featured the Beastmaster class along with a number of quality of life updates for the game.Related: eSports, Interview, Nosgoth, Psyonix, PvP, Square Enix