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Mercenary Ops devs reveal spiritual successor Zombies Monsters Robots

Zombies Monsters Robots, En Masse Entertainment's upcoming free-to-play third-person PC shooter developed in collaboration with Yingpei Games, forces players into cooperative play by throwing them into arenas teeming with relentless hordes of enemies.

The title is the spiritual successor to Mercenary Ops, which was announced by Yingpei as an iOS first-person shooter in 2012. Executive producer Brian Knox told Polygon the team — formerly Epic Games China — took the lessons it learned from Mercenary Ops and tweaked them to fit a broader scope, evolving the concept into the wider world of Zombies Monster Robots.

The game's premise revolves around interdimensional portals opening up across the world, unleashing the titular menaces on humanity. People must band together to take these enemies down in a handful of different game modes, such as a wave-based survival mode and hour-long campaigns for completion by two or more players.

In Zombies Monsters Robots, up to eight players can take on any mode together, picking through an arsenal of guns and environmental traps as well as turrets and mechs that can take out multiple enemies at once. All modes end in a boss battle against a high-level creature, each requiring its own strategy to defeat.

In addition to the co-op modes, players can tackle a handful of competitive modes. Up to 16 players can go head-to-head in events like a humans vs. monsters mode, in which players participating as monsters have the opportunity to level and upgrade their monsters.

But where ZMR really shines is in its absurd enemies, the cybernetic soldiers, undead and lethal mystical creatures that give the game its namesake. In a hands-on demo at GDC, we played a wave-based survival mode in which four players had to tackle 12 waves of oncoming enemies before squaring off against the boss. For about 20 minutes we shouted to each other to lay traps, pick up more impactful guns and revive each other when we were killed. Things got real against the boss, a massive zombie who used chains for whips, slamming both metal and electrical energy bolts at us and our teammates.

New content will be continually rolled out for ZMR post launch, including new weapons, modes, maps and enemies. Already planned DLC includes a Dino Island map, which producer Matthew Denomme said is "overrun with dinosaurs with guns strapped to their backs." Clearly, nothing is off limits with ZMR.

"We really pride ourselves on our service at En Masse," Knox said. "We think we've done a really good job with [MMORPG] TERA and fostered a great community. We're looking to continue that with ZMR."

Knox noted that Zombies Monsters Robots is just the first in what appears to be a long partnership between En Masse and Yingpei Games, hinting that there is more content to come.

"We're really excited for our future together," he said.

Zombies Monsters Robots will launch a public alpha test in April, with an "early access" version coming in May. The game will launch in full later this summer.

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