After toiling away for years on high-concept arcade titles like Resogun and Nex Machina, developer Housemarque announced that it was turning over a new leaf. The small team is detailing its next project for the first time this week at the Gamescom convention in Germany. Called Stormdivers, it’s an attempt at an Unreal-powered battle royale game.
Stormdivers is a third-person shooter that Housemarque has been toying with for more than three years. The science fiction setting will pit groups of scavengers against one another, tasking them with leaping into an environment plagued by a deadly cloud of nanobots to retrieve technology for sale on the black market. The studio’s head of publishing, Mikael Haveri, told Polygon that the initial pitch was made by one of their concept artists.
“In February 2015 we saw this crazy pitch about a third-person shooter where there’s a lot of crazy chaos happening,” Haveri said. “It was described in a way like a cross between a Smash Bros. game and The Hunger Games.”
In 2016, Housemarque began to actively prototype Stormdivers. Haveri said that designing for online multiplayer is new for his team, so some initial work focused on making Stormdivers as stable as possible. The following year, Haveri said, their instincts paid off when PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and later Fortnite burst onto the scene. Haveri is confident that fans of those titles will be interested in what they’ve created.
The game will have a near-future, high-tech theme that emphasizes a powerful suit that players will wear into battle. As they scavenge in the environment, players will add augmentations to that suit. As an example, Haveri said one proposed module will allow players to see the footsteps left behind by their competitors. While the final player count isn’t set in stone, Haveri said it will likely be around 50 or 60 players jumping in together on a roughly three square kilometer island-themed map.
“It’s very skilled-based,” Haveri said. “What we’re emphasizing is a lot of in-game events, things like tornadoes and volcanoes popping up. The game will not allow you sit still. ... We’re making Stormdivers a lot faster [than other battle royale games], adding a lot of verticality with jet packs and jump pads and stuff that lets you get up in the air a bunch.”
That being said, Haveri explained that the game, as they’ve designed it, is as much a platform as anything else. In the future, Housemarque intends to add team-based missions and other kinds of player-versus-environment gameplay.
Stormdivers will initially launch into early access on PC this winter, either late 2018 or early 2019, according to Haveri.