- Free-to-play online FPS set during a conflict in the third decade of the 21st century;
- A game by The Farm 51 – known for such titles as Deadfall Adventures and Painkiller: Hell & Damnation;
- High realism but great emphasis on playability at the same tame;
- Gameplay based on teamwork and completing assignments; not eliminating enemies;
- Metagame in which players’ decisions and their consequences shape the game world.
The life of a fan of a bit more mature FPS games is not an easy one. On one hand, there are borderline arcade shooters, which are a total stranger to any form of realism; on the other we have titles aspiring to be genuine battlefield simulations, such as ArmA or the upcoming Escape from Tarkov; the latter kind is complex, so complex in fact that it deters most of potential players. This could change, and soon, thanks to a Polish studio, The Farm 51. Their upcoming project, World War 3, will combine highly enjoyable gameplay with serious attitude towards depicting military operations.
It’s hard to discuss the details of this project, since the game is still in early stages of development. The studio is currently working on a playable prototype, which will contain all the vital elements, and determine which of them will actually make it into the final build. Still, after speaking to Kamil Bilczynski, the creative director and co-founder of the studio, we have some idea as to how World War 3 will actually look. The developers are certain that the background will be a conflict taking place in the third decade of the 21st century – such setting doesn’t allow too futuristic ideas. The studio aims for – not excessive – but realism nonetheless: “This is, in a sense, our way of channeling our experience from cooperation with the military and the defense industry into a videogame”, says chief designer of WW3, and the creative director at The Farm 51.
In order to fully utilize the experience gathered during their cooperation with the Polish defense industry, The Farm 51 are also going to develop a special simulation module, based on World War 3 and designed for uniformed services, such as police or special forces. Its absolute realism will allow soldiers to reenact battlefield movement, small-scale maneuvers and pre-defined combat situations. I wonder whether it will be available for civilians...
What does that mean for the gameplay? Relax, the players certainly won’t be forced to crawl for miles under sniper fire, risking death from a single bullet. The mechanics of movement and shooting won’t be overcomplicated. “An absolute realism has its use when people need to be trained in specific situations”, says Bilczynski. “A faithful rendition of those elements in a game would probably make it unplayable”. Greater emphasis will be placed on cooperation between units. In every match, players complete tasks first, and score kills second. The players may, for example, need to defend a certain area, break through the enemy lines, or capture an object. Killing everyone standing in our way doesn’t necessarily bring victory. World War 3 is for those players who understand that incredible personal achievements and killstreaks are nothing more than appetizers, compared to the main dish of completing mission objectives.
In order to make sure the players don’t ignore the rules, and a struggle for control over a building doesn’t turn into a simple deathmatch, The Farm 51 will introduce an interesting novelty: “In most shooters, single matches have no ‘continuation’”, says Bilczynski. “In World War 3, however, the outcome of individual games will be reflected in the way the game changes month-to-month”. What we have here is a war campaign of sorts, with a moving frontline, long-term goals and all the aspects that are going to make the players feel as if they were taking part in a large-scale war offensive. This “metagame” – as the creative director refers to it – will also include elements of economy. It’s not going to be very complex – and that’s good, since this is an FPS – but the hardware purchased by the players can shape subsequent matches. Maybe it’s better to buy survey devices instead of a new rifle? It’s easy to imagine a situation when a better equipped team loses to a bunch of guys with AK-47s who – because of their purchasing decisions – were able to see every single move of their enemies.
During our conversation, Kamil Bilczynski said that World War 3 is being raised on three pillars: the gameplay itself, the ‘metagame’, and new technologies. Although he refused to share any details, he did reveal that the thing is about 3D printing and scanning (utilized in two other projects of the studio: Get Even and Chernobyl VR Project). How will the “third pillar” impact the gameplay? We are yet to learn.
Unfortunately, this last aspect raises some concern. World War 3 will be a free game that will likely earn its living by ads and microtransactions. It’s quite understandable to expect the economic aspect of the game to suffer because of this. Bilczynski assures that the studio will do everything they can to maintain the right balance of the game: “A ‘pay to win’ model warps the idea of a shooter, which at the very bottom is a symmetrical game”. According to the man, the microtransactions in the studio’s newest game will be focused around enhancing the customization – the players willing to spend some real money will be able to get new skins and alternative weapon models, but will not be able to purchase anything that would alter the gameplay.
I hope this will actually work, because World War 3 is based on some really interesting principles, and it would be a great shame if the game shared the fate of many titles which were buried by bad financial decisions. But so far, nobody in The Farm 51 speaks about the details of this matter. Besides, as I’ve already said, it’s still an early stage of production, and before we all deploy on the battlefields of a 3rd World War, a lot of time will probably pass. Until then, let’s keep our eyes peeled for any new info coming from The Farm 51. The core of this game – focusing on mission objectives, a grand military campaign, and the mysterious “third pillar” based on new technologies – can introduce new quality in the world of f2p FPS games.
Jakub Mirowski | Gamepressure.com