When Sony announced the PlayStation 4, the company promised support
for a wider range of monetization methods used by modern-day developers. Zombie
Studios is the first independent studio to take advantage of Sony's new
publishing options with its free-to-play multiplayer shooter, Blacklight: Retribution.
Blacklight: Retribution launched on PC a year ago to
generally positive reviews, and Zombie Studios has been updating the game ever
since with new missions, maps, and gameplay modes, including the popular co-op
survival mode, Onslaught. In addition to the extensive weapon customization
options (which can be purchased via microtransactions or earned by playing the
game), Blacklight: Retribution shakes up the typical sci-fi shooter formula
with a visor ability that allows players to temporarily see through walls, and
mech-like Hardsuits that can be earned during matches and feature randomly
Now Zombie Studios is prepping the game for PlayStation 4,
and is looking to take advantage of the console's power to provide players with
improved visuals and console-specific features. We spoke with Zombie Studios
creative director Jared Gerritzen about how Blacklight: Retribution has evolved
over the past year, what it's been like working with Sony, and what shooter
fans can expect from the PS4 version of the game.
Retribution launched as a free-to-play online PC shooter last April. Will the
game be free-to-play on PS4 as well?
Absolutely! When we started talking to Sony about bringing Blacklight
to PS4, our first question was keeping it a free-to-play game. Sony has been
very open about having different types of games on the platform, including
Can you give us an
idea of how the deal to bring Blacklight: Retribution to the PS4 was made? When
did you get involved with Sony?
Last E3 I was lucky enough to get invited to a Sony Indie
dinner that started talks about Zombie working with the Pub Fund group. They
were very upfront with details about the PS4, and after that meeting we
instantly knew we wanted to be working on the PS4. Their goals were very much
in line with ours. We quickly started talking about games and we happened to be
in the process of getting the console publishing rights back for Blacklight:
Retribution. The timing couldn't have been more perfect. It really was perfect
timing on both sides.
Did you consider
bringing Blacklight: Retribution to other current-gen or next-gen consoles? If
so, what made you choose the PS4?
We did some research in bringing Blacklight: Retribution to
current-generation consoles, but it really wouldn't have worked for us. We are
a small team and there were a number of hurdles involved and it just didn't
make sense for us. After talking with Sony about the PS4 and their plans, it
was a very easy choice for us.
Will the PS4 version
of Blacklight: Retribution use any of the system's unique hardware features or
We have been experimenting with a number of features on the
PS4. We have some really cool ideas for the touchpad on the controller. We
started messing with it, and there were some really cool ideas that came out of
that. We aren't sure if they will end up in the final version of the game, but
some really cool experiments are happening. With the growth of online
spectating, we see the built-in spectating as game changer. Having that built
into the box is amazing in so many ways.
What's it been like
working with Sony? Have you collaborated with any of their first-party
Sony has been an amazing partner. They have helped us in so
many ways, from getting technical help to getting additional kits. We couldn't
be happier to work with a great partner so focused on helping us make a great
game. As far as collaborations, we have been talking with various support
groups at Sony and they have all been great.
Retribution has been out for about a year, and has been continually updated.
What do you consider to be the biggest and most important changes you've made
to the game since its initial release?
We have had one major change and one major addition to
Blacklight: Retribution since its release. Late last year, we did a massive
weapon balance pass and refactoring of the entire weapons system. We really
wanted to make the player feel powerful when they shoot, so we went back to the
drawing board and revamped the whole system. It took us months to really nail
that "right" feeling for the weapons, and after countless matches in the office,
we really feel we improved the game for all players. The second was our
addition of Onslaught, our co-op survival mode. Blacklight has a great
competitive scene, but sometimes you just want to team up with your friends and
kill the AI. We had a lot of fun with it while it was in development, but the
community has really latched onto it and it has become one of our most popular
Are you planning any
new content to mark the launch of the PS4 version? Will there be any
differences between the PS4 and PC versions?
We are still working on what content the PS4 will have when
the game launches. Blacklight: Retribution is live on the PC right now and it
really wouldn't be fair to the PC players to keep content back. We would like
the PC and the PS4 version to be as equal as possible. However, there are
technical advantages to having a fixed platform like the PS4. We have gone back
and have redone the lighting and retrofitted levels to focus on frame rate and
making everything look great. Compare this to working on the limitations of the
minimum specs on a PC with thousands of hardware combinations. Expect a visual
jump on the PS4.
Will PC and PS4
players be able to play together?
When we first started thinking about Blacklight: Retribution
on PS4, we instantly started investigating crossplay, but after looking at it
more, it just became clear that it wasn't going to happen. It would have been
awesome, but we are excited to have new players as well as some additional
control that we wouldn't have if we were tied to the PC.
Do you plan on
continuing to update the game when it releases on PS4?
We have a plan to support the PS4 as much as possible. We
have a lot of ideas brewing right now on what exactly to do, so nothing
specific right now, but we have ideas and we want Blacklight: Retribution on
PS4 to have serious legs and last a long time after launch.
The PS4 provides a
lot of built-in social and streaming functionalities. Are you planning to use
these capabilities in interesting ways?
Totally! Being a F2P game having those social tools to
introduce new players to the game is huge. Either it be online on the platform
seeing cool screenshots or updates from friends, or watching streaming video of
an amazing match. We are really excited about these features and how the
community will use them.
Is there anything
else you think fans of the PC version of Blacklight: Retribution should know
about the PS4 version?
The experience will definitely
change between the two platforms. We really want to use all the pieces the PS4
has to offer. The share button, the camera, motion tracking, and the controller
are all really great systems that we want to use. However, we only plan on
using them if they fit the game and gameplay. Don't expect us to make a player
use motion control to throw a grenade or make a player jump for the [character]
to jump in game. We want to make sure everything makes senses and is fun.
For more on indie games heading to Sony's platforms, check out our previews of Hohokum, Counterspy, Doki-Doki Universe, and Primal Carnage: Genesis.
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