Wednesday, April 14, 2021

How Deathloop’s multiplayer works and how Arkane keeps it from being boring

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The dynamic between Colt and Julianna is fascinating. One character tries to break the time loop, while the other tries to preserve it. Along the way, they get to know each other, laugh at each other’s jokes, share their experiences and blow each other’s balls up before the loop begins again the next day. These interactions occur over the course of the narrative, as Colt tries to figure out the best way to assassinate eight targets in a single day, while Julianna tries to ambush him when he least expects it. The unpredictability is increased with another player controlling Julianna who invades your game in hopes of stopping Colt’s progress through the story.

The idea of ​​another player invading your game and playing the role of your nemesis is a great idea, but anyone who has ever played an online multiplayer game can immediately see the potential for frustration. However, when I ask game director Dinga Bakaba how Arkane Studios has gone about making these asynchronous multiplayer experiences rewarding, challenging and fun instead of raging, frustrating and putting off, he is confident that the encounters will be enjoyable for them. players. .

“I like to think of these encounters with Julianna as boss fights,” says Bakaba. “At some point you will know the targets. You will have all the tools to deal with them. They are not the real danger here, especially if you are playing online.”

The team wanted the moments when Julianna invades feel like a challenge, but Arkane tips the scales in Colt’s favor to make it feel less overwhelming or frustrating. The first way Arkane stacks the deck for Colt is through his Resume ability, which essentially gives him three lives per day. Julianna is going through the same time loop as Colt, but she only has one life per day, which means Julianna’s player has to be creative and astute when trying to take Colt down. However, just because Colt sends Julianna in the morning doesn’t mean that she won’t be coming back later in the day, being controlled by someone else. The team won’t comment on how or why it works, but you shouldn’t feel too safe in the afternoon just because you killed Julianna at breakfast time.

“There’s something special about her that keeps her coming back,” Bakaba teases. “The other thing I will say is that the fact that you killed her in an invasion does not advance you towards your goal of breaking the time loop.”

Additionally, if Colt is at a time and place where none of his targets are, Julianna cannot invade. This allows Colt to explore and do other things in preparation for his main mission without fear of being ambushed. However, once Colt enters an area occupied by a target, Julianna’s invasion is fair game. So if Colt isn’t going after his career, but instead tries to extract a weapon for future loops or uncover clues on the target for future attempts, Julianna’s presence adds tension. If she can finish him off, he won’t be able to keep this weapon. However, if you find a clue that allows you, for example, to enter a new area, you’ve achieved your goal of finding the tip, and Colt’s death won’t have much consequences.


If you play as Colt and Julianna invades your game, you’re immediately notified by radio as she announces her presence through a series of taunts. Once there, she locks the exit doors, more or less trapping you in the map. You can unlock the doors by hacking an antenna relay in the area, which you can do remotely and stealthily, but if the relay is hacked, it’s likely that Julianna will know you’re in the general area. From there, Julianna might try to interrupt you on your exit route, but Colt is once again lucky, as there are two exits in each neighborhood.

“These encounters should not be resolved by fighting,” Bakaba said. “It’s not necessarily a skill competition. It can also be a mind game competition where you never really see her because you’ve been around.”

While Colt may have more perks in his corner, all of the fortune is not on his side. After all, Julianna isn’t the only one chasing Colt. The entire island is looking for the Deathloop protagonist on Julianna’s orders, so if an NPC scout or security system spots Colt, player Julianna gets a marker on their HUD. Likewise, if Colt gets into a situation with guns or throws grenades, that will get the Huntress’ attention as well.

“We want a cat and mouse game rather than a direct confrontation game,” says Bakaba.

So how does Arkane go about preventing this cat and mouse game from being a frustrating business for the Colt player? One way is to tip the risk / reward mechanics in Colt’s favor. “The slogan of the game is, ‘If you don’t succeed at first, die and die again,’” says Bakaba. “It’s not necessarily punishing if I had achieved my goals, and after that I have the confrontation and I lose, I may not lose much. On the contrary, if I win, Julianna will drop one. part. loading, so you have a chance to gain a power or a nice weapon without having to go on a side quest or kill a target. “

Additionally, if you kill Julianna as Colt, it replenishes your Power of Recovery, effectively filling your extra lives for this race. Meanwhile, if Julianna succeeds in her mission to kill Colt, she leaves with no real reward. With so much to gain and not too much to lose, it might be worth it for Colt to give Julianna the problem she seems to be looking for.

Even after all of these steps Arkane has taken, if you still don’t want other players to interfere with your game, you can limit invasions to people on your friends list or turn off the invasion mechanic altogether. If you do this, a Julianna NPC will invade your game instead of a player controlled player. “Some people will much prefer to play the game on their own; this is something we are certainly aware of,” Bakaba says. “I’m not here to tell people how to play their game. It’s their game! But I hope they try [playing online] because I think, at least emotionally, that creates something that we wanted to create. Of course, the AI ​​is usable, it will do its job, but it will never be at the same level of chaos. “


No matter what mode you’re playing in, you can’t communicate with the other player in the world, and you won’t even know who they are until the session ends. “We’re from a single player background when it comes to the games we make, so we wanted to create something that feels like one player, but there is a possibility of multiplayer,” says Bakaba. “That person playing the invader, it’s not them; it’s Julianna. It’s something important. So we didn’t want the voice chat to stay just to keep that level of mystery… I think. that it was more about trying to have a single player experience with guest players in your campaign. We wanted something that looked like a character in the game, not someone from the Internet. ”

As of my discussions with the studio, Arkane is still deciding whether Deathloop will even tell you if the Julianna invading your game is an NPC or a player character. “We look at both angles,” says Bakaba. “Both have advantages, but maybe people will still want to know he’s a player. I do not know! You tell us in the comments! [Laughs]”

Deathloop is coming to PlayStation 5 and PC on May 21. For more details on the upcoming Arkane title, check out our current number and our coverage hub by clicking on the banner below.

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