Dev Blog: Hold Your Breath And Clear Your Mind

Dev Blog: Hold Your Breath And Clear Your Mind

Devoted Rejects,

Last week we delved into the reinvention of the penance system. Today we’ll take a closer look with the devs that worked on some of the features that are coming with Path of Redemption: the Pox Gas condition, the Dreg Tox Bomber and the Personality Scourge. Without further ado, let’s start with the new condition! 

Pox Gas

One interesting challenge we have in level design is to ensure that the content already released into the game not only feels fun to play, but most importantly feels relevant. After all, you are exploring a massive and sprawling Hive City, which is active and constantly changing. This is something we want our missions to reflect as much as possible.

With this in mind, the Pox Gas condition (together with the Dreg Tox Bomber) felt like a good fit, as it allows us to achieve a few things from a design standpoint:

  • It adds a new type of environmental hazard not seen before.
  • It changes the gameplay space players are used to traversing by blocking off shortcuts or popular camping spots.
  • It puts players under duress inside Pox Gas areas, fostering the need for quick thinking and coordination.
  • It gives players the ability to decide whether to push through the gas or wait it out in key locations.

To accomplish this, we started by hand-picking missions we believed would be good candidates for the condition, in order to provide a great first playthrough experience. We populated these missions with Pox Gas, and then proceeded with playtests and gathering feedback. 

The core idea behind how Pox Gas would manifest itself in these selected missions was to have it appear on the “obvious” path, but also where players tended to linger during events. At first, Pox Gas was very much static with a set randomized seed upon starting a mission. Though this achieved much of what we set out to do, playtest feedback showed that it was a bit too static

We iterated on the condition, giving it a more dynamic setup. We tuned it to ensure it would switch at regular intervals during gameplay, making it feel much less static. In addition, we added more to the initial design. For example,how it affects the gameplay space for players and enemies (the latter get a buff inside the swaths of gas). 

A fun design challenge we had to wrestle with was –  how can you tell where the gas will appear and when? What cues would we be giving players? To solve this challenge, we further tweaked the condition by: 

  • Making Pox Gas appear/disappear in sequence with lower gas as a warning.
  • Populating any Pox Gas areas with Nurgle corals - as they are often seen on Nurgle miniatures in Warhammer: 40,000 - and have them “spew” it out.
  • Adding various sound cues to hint at affected areas and provide a warning to players.
  • Fading out the Pox Gas once it is done (and not just quickly fading in).

This leads us to where we are today and the current version of Pox Gas: a new dynamic challenge for some of our missions that is sure to change up how you play! We can’t wait to see how the most valiant of players will handle it.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this section of the dev blog! 

Kristoffer, Senior Level Designer on Darktide

Dreg Tox Bomber 

Keep your eyes peeled, Rejects. Reports of cult activity are on the rise. Whispers of Admonition echo in dark corners and empty vox channels. We've just lost three strike teams in the Hourglass. Comms were confusing, but we have reports of rolling clouds of noxious fog and, what's worse, they seem to have weaponized it. If you thought one of these nuts chucking incendiary bombs around was bad, wait till the Tox Gas chokes your lungs. I'd steer clear if I was you.

Following the theme of noxious fumes, the Drex Tox Bomber throws Blight Grenades that explode into a cloud of gas. These grenades cover a big area, limit visibility and the gas stays for a long time, but deals less damage less frequently compared to the Scab Bomber fire grenade. Players standing in the gas will lose Toughness and eventually gain Corruption, while their toughness regeneration will be severely limited. The gas also applies a buff on enemies which makes them tougher to kill and harder to cleave through.

Similarly to the Scab Bomber, it affects the gameplay by forcing players to move away from wherever the Blight Grenade lands and explodes. Additionally, it affects players visibility in order to create more chaos, but in a less kill-focused way (more of a nurgle-love kind of way) compared to the Scab Bomber. The Blight Grenade also bounces more than the Scab Bomber Fire Grenade, making it a bit more unpredictable. Since its effect is a bit more impactful than the Scab Bomber, it will not drop its grenade if killed/staggered during its throw animation, and the far throw animation is longer in time.

Daniel, Gameplay Programmer on Darktide

Personality Scourge

With the Personality Scourge we saw an opportunity to provide additional agency to players over their character customization. We noticed that changing personality (i.e. voice) and height was a common community request and the Barber-Chirurgeon Krall felt like a natural candidate to dispense additional character customization features. 

To this end, Krall will establish a joint venture with Sefoni! This will let players head over to Krall, where he and Sefoni will set to work, remodeling whatever aspects of their minds or body that they would like to alter. Undergoing a Personality Scourge will give players the option to change all aspects of their operative from the character creator, except from class. Players will get to modify their background, body type, personality, and their name alongside all the elements available for change previously in the Barber-Chirurgeon. Players will be able to change their height both through the Personality Scourge and the regular appearance modification at the Barber-Chirurgeon.

Since this operation requires valuable Prismata Crystals, players won't be offered this service free of charge and will have to part with their hard earned Ordo Dockets. They will occasionally be joined by Krall and Sefoni via Comm-Link during the Ascension Riser mission to ensure the smooth interception of the consignment of crystals… Just don’t tell Morrow!

In other words, we wanted to expand the customization tools available to players beyond height and personality. In addition to these two elements, players will be able to change every element of their character’s backstory, their name, the full set of physical options including body type. As an example this means that if a player wants to swap the crime their reject is convicted for, they will also get to change and replace their prison suit. 

Tim, Developer on Darktide 

Ola, VO Designer on Darktide

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