Recently, German developer Yager showcased their upcoming title Dreadnought at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) this past June. I was there covering the event, but unfortunately was unable to check out the title while there. However, the game did make an impression on me, and I have followed it every since it’s reveal. I have longed for spaceship battle games. Some of my favorite games of all time take place in the vast emptiness of the cosmos. Homeworld, X-wing vs Tie Fighter, Sins of a Solar Rebellion — all of these are examples of really great space games in a genre that seems to have fallen by the wayside with the exception of the massive juggernaut that is EVE Online.
Drednought aims to become the next great space game, and recently we were able to interview Peter Holzapfel, the Game Director for the project. Because of time differences, this interview was done through email. Below is the full transcript:
Legendarium: What are the basic fundamentals of Dreadnought gameplay?
PH: Dreadnought is all about the idea of being a captain on a massive spaceship.
Each of these ships belongs to a certain class that suits your play style. You are then able to equip this Dreadnought with different weapon or ability modules, choose your crew that will influence gameplay refine your weapon selection and then battle it out in multiplayer matches or explore the universe in episodic single player. Battles are epic and action heavy but, true to the massive size of the ships, more tactical than twitch based. Positioning yourself, managing your energy and playing together with your team is important and a big part of the fun.
LM: What inspired the guys to make a game solely based on Big, massive spaceships?
PH: There are a lot of games about smaller jetfighters and we really like those. But there are also a lot of movies and TV shows about huge battleships that we love, like Battlestar Galactica, Firefly and Star Trek. We wanted to give those beloved shows a game that is worthy of them.
Those ships have bigger weapon systems, they have a crew that can interact with the player, and they can travel in space so there is a lot there for players. So the real questions would be – why has no one else made a game so far that focuses on massive ships that so many people, us included, really like?
LM: Were there any big sci-fi franchises that helped inspire the “look” of the game?
PH: If I had to pick one, I would probably go for Battlestar Galactica. Matthias Wiese (Art Director) has a lot of Sci-Fi influences and has been drawing spaceships since forever really. But when it comes to the naval feel of the ships and the heavy war machine bulkiness, I would probably go for Battlestar.
LM: What engine is Dreadnought running on?
PH: Dreadnought is running on the latest version of Unreal, so Unreal Engine 4. We are probably among the first studios to launch a game with the engine and so far, we are very happy with the results, in terms of visual quality and workflow.
LM: What are the different classes of ships, and how do they differentiate from each other?
PH: With the classes we loosely tried to match those franchises that we talked about earlier.
We have the game’s name-giving Dreadnought class, which works a bit like the Galactica. It is a tank class that can take massive amount of damage and is best suited to jump into the thick of it with a Tactical Cruiser to support it at its side, a healer class that can do damage as well and works with tactical elements to support the team.
The Corvette class is more influenced by the Millennium Falcon; it is still pretty big in terms of smaller fighters, but in our game it is a hit and run class that will go down quickly if you are not super careful, but can cause a lot of confusion and mayhem within the enemy team.
The Destroyer is an all-purpose attack class, almost as big as the Dreadnought, but also works well in mid-distance. It’s the ‘assault rifle’ of battleships so to speak.
The Artillery is more influenced by the submarine from “Hunt for the Red October” – not technically a spaceship, I know, but the we like the captain a lot and the play style, hanging back and then attacking without people anticipating. It works well in our class setup. Each of these classes will in the end have multiple ships with different strengths to choose from, so you can create the style you want with the ship you want.
LM: Can you give us an example of some of the weapons you can use in the game?
PH: Due to the nature of the beast, there are a lot of weapon modules for the different ships. Everything from guided tactical missiles that need to be blocked with the energy shields, to tactical nukes that cause a large area effect and are designed to severely damage a whole team or, if it fails to do so, disperse a formation. You can launch fighter squadrons that will attack an enemy over a larger distance and if there is no direct line of sight anymore, and your primary and secondary weapons range from ballistic weapons like mortars to energy weapons like laser canons. There really is a lot to choose from in the arsenal.
LM: How do you destroy an enemy ship? Are there weak points on specific vessels to aim for, or is it the traditional hitbox seen in other multiplayer games with hit points and shields?
PH: Shields are a huge part of the Sci-Fi fantasy so they definitely need to be in. But you actively manage the energy that is needed for the shields, so you choose if you want to use that energy for weapons, engines or shields. We are still experimenting with weak spots on the ship.
LM: Are there any plans for ship customization, as well as an in-game economy to allow you sell designs and modifications to ships?
PH: Dreadnought will be a free-to-play title and we are putting a lot of effort into making the economy the fairest model possible. Real money purchases will not give you an unfair advantage and in general we are very happy what we currently pursuing – unfortunately we can’t talk about it in detail yet, but to answer your question – there will be various ways to customize your ship, visually and functionally for each class. The same goes for your captain and your crew.
LM: Is Dreadnought going to be free-to-play, or a store purchase?
PH: Dreadnought is going to be a free-to-play title.
LM: What are some different game modes you guys are shooting for upon release?
PH: Currently there are two game modes that are confirmed, Team Deathmatch and Team Elimination. Since our game plays very different from other games, we wanted to go for game modes that we knew would work first to learn more about our mechanics, and then take those learnings and turn them into a more complex game mode that we still can’t confirm but are actively working on.
LM: Any idea on when beta will be happening, and how can fans be involved?
PH: We hope that we can involve our fans as much as possible early on. Beta will definitely kick off very soon and we will let the community know how and where they can join if they want to be part of this journey. We are pretty excited about what they will have to say to us once the game is out there…
LM: Which platforms is the game launching on?
PH: Dreadnought is going to launch on PC, although we are not ruling out other platforms in the future.