When Fallout was reborn by Bethesda as a shooter/RPG hybrid, fans were noticeably upset. That's because the original game that they grew up with and loved was a birds-eye RPG with pacing and slower movement. Thankfully, that game turned out okay!
Since Fallout, X-Com, and Syndicate, two other formerly birds-eye tactical RPGs have been transformed into RPG/FPS hybrids. Maybe these games will turn out okay, but until they actually release, it’s impossible to know for sure. Good or bad, that’s beside the point. What is important is that this genre of strategy RPG games, especially for the PC, have fallen aside to RTS games or first-person shooters.
It is with great interest that I saw images and information on Krater coming from Fatshark. The studio behind the Bionic Commando remakes, Krater is a visually colorful turn-based strategy game coming next year in the same vein as those games of old. It is very early in development, affording it plenty of opportunity for change and development based upon the needs of the community.
That’s exactly what Fatshark hopes to accomplish with development with this game. As more and more details are unveiled, players will have the opportunity to feed in their input to see if this is the direction they would like to take for the game. Even the core speed of the game is up in the air. Currently, the game is turn-based, but should players decide that they want the game to move in real-time, this is something that the dev team for Krater is working very hard to make happen. The game is pre-alpha, and the developers want your involvement earlier rather than later. Follow the game at http://www.kratergame.com/.
Now, this is what we do know about this title. Krater is the titular name for a post-apocalyptic crater in the middle of Sweden. A “24 minute” war took place in this alternate future, with much of the world in a sorry state after this short war. It ended with an explosion at a military base in Sweden, stagnating most technological development and mutating many human beings.
A couple things about this premise: first, this crater is a lush and colorful environment that goes deep into the planet. While other post-apocalyptic games focus on the destruction, this game is much more positive on the status of the planet. Adventurers enter the crater in the hopes of finding new equipment and technology, and the environment changes as players go deeper and deeper. It’s a world where development has stalled, but unlike other versions of the future, this is a slightly more positive universe than, say, Fallout. Even the idea of global warming is almost positive, as it has transformed the colder regions of Sweden into a verdant jungle. This is a world that is far from truly destroyed.
Now, there are three pillars leading development of this game. The first is the crafting and customization, with everything from the player characters themselves to the items and classes. There is a heavy WoW and Torchlight influence here, both visually and in the itemization, with various rare, common, and uncommon items that classes can lose. The classes range from medic to crowd control, DPS, or tanking, and up to three players can be controlled at once. The co-op cap has not been set, and it is still being balanced.
Players are expendable and customizable, ranging from human characters to huge mutants, resultant from the explosion in Sweden. Players are also expected to lose characters and replace them with different ones, with Fat Shark even tossing around the idea for a hard mode with perma-death. They are also looking into the ideas of being knocked out. Every time you are knocked out, it adds a sort of check against you, and the more you have, the closer you are to perma-death. It’s an interesting premise, one I’m curious to see fully fleshed out.
The second tier for this development is the idea of exploration. In part inspired by the twenty-thirty first moves in a game of Civilization when players are still trying to figure things out, Fatshark wants players to always be looking for something new and different. They want players to feel like they are always on the edge of a new discovery. As players crawl into the deepest layers of the crater, they will discover brutal beasts to defeat.
The final tier is on the beauty of the game. Krater is a very unique take on the post-war Earth, with colorful plants and bright colors juxtaposed with the rusting and ruined buildings of Sweden. Even the act that the game is going to take place in Sweden lends a sort of freshness that a lot of games ignore. It’s going to be very interesting to see how Fatshark, a Swedish company, will incorporate their cultural norms. I’m very excited for this reason alone.
Fatshark hopes to have an early beta start up sometime in January, so sign up now if you’re interested in checking out this modern take on a dwindling genre. Your input is going to make serious changes to the direction of Krater, giving this one plenty of opportunity to shine. Look out for Krater in the Summer of 2012.