With the success of World War Z, and how it’s still being served with fresh content, we chatted with developer Saber Interactive about the game’s future, what the plans are for future projects, and more.
Answering the questions is Tim Willits, Saber Interactive Chief Creative Officer.
MP1st: Was Saber Interactive surprised at how well received WWZ was? I mean, there are a glut of zombie games, and even so, WWZ seems to have struck a chord with gamers.
Willits: We are really proud of World War Z and knew that with the Swarm Engine, the game’s ability to power these massive horde set piece battle moments, it would make for a special experience that stands apart from the rest of the zombie games out there. But yes, the fact that the game took off the way that it did – I mean, we have over 15 million unique players which is crazy! – has been amazing and exceeded our expectations.
MP1st: Has the studio considered doing something that’s AAA in the traditional sense?
Willits: You know, everyone has a different definition of what AAA means so that’s always a tough question. Of course as a developer, we have vast experience working on big name AAA titles with partners like CD Projekt, Bethesda, Microsoft, 2K and so on. Now as the game’s publisher, we feel World War Z can go toe to toe with any of the other big horror co-op/shooter games out there from a scope, production value and player base standpoint, and we’re proud to see critical and Steam user reviews on Aftermath bear that out.
Then we’ve got Evil Dead the Game coming up which we are really excited about. When people get their hands on that game next year, I think it will be pretty clear that there’s a quality there, just even from the graphical side of things alone, that will put it towards the top of the asymmetrical horror genre. So arguably we are already in the AAA space, however, we definitely have some even bigger and more ambitious titles in the pipeline for the years ahead as well. We are all about player value and a diverse lineup, so you’ll see some smaller but very cool indie-style titles as well as some heavy hitters revealed soon.
MP1st: WWE, WWZ, NBA, it seems Saber has a liking to develop games based on well-established IPs. Is this something the studio goes for, or is it the other way around that the studio is picked for these kinds of games?
Willits: It’s a little of both. We have great long-standing relationships with partners like Paramount Pictures and many other IP owners, and we get excited about the idea of taking some of our favorite universes and bringing them to life as modern day video game experiences, having fun finding the type of gameplay that really does them justice. We are always having chats at Saber and coming up with fun new ideas about various favorite movies or shows or sports or other properties that either haven’t had a proper game adaptation yet or in a long time or where there’s something unique or different that could be done.
MP1st: Why was the next-gen version of WWZ pushed to 2022? What was the main cause?
Willits: Just making sure we have sufficient time to properly optimize and support both PS5 and Xbox Series X|S. We are also busy working on the next-gen edition of World War Z’s horde mode, called Horde Mode XL, which will be the flagship new content for that release on the new consoles and on PC. It will have hundreds more zombies than we’ve ever been able to do before and is shaping up to be pretty insane.
MP1st: Is there more to WWZ after Aftermath?
Willits: We just put out the free Booster update around Halloween that has a new contagious zombie type, new rare Lore Documents to collect, and Daily Challenges. The next big thing after that is the next-gen Horde Mode XL I mentioned. And you’ll have to stay tuned for what’s next for World War Z after that!
MP1st: What happened to the Ghostbusters: The Video Game multiplayer? Is it ever going to be released?
Willits: This is something the team really wanted to include when working on that remaster a few years ago and had been attempting it, but the state of the original multiplayer code unfortunately just didn’t cooperate. We did look into it but ultimately had to focus on recreating the single player experience fans were expecting from us.
MP1st: What IP or franchise (gaming, movies, etc.) is the studio’s “dream project?”
Willits: You know, I don’t think there’s one that we could say is a studio-wide consensus dream project, we each have our own personal favorite movies and games and some of those are in early development now! You guys are going to love our Sixteen Candles asymmetrical horror game. Kidding!
MP1st: What’s in store next for the studio? Future goals?
Willits: After World War Z and Evil Dead the Game, we’ve just announced that we are publishing the A Quiet Place game which is being developed by the amazing iLLOGIKA studio in Montreal. And stay tuned because we are preparing to announce several more games very soon including some multiplayer titles in different genres that we think MP1st readers will be excited about. We are growing very quickly!
MP1st: You’ve been known for bringing The Witcher 3 to the Switch. What are the differences now as you bring WWZ to the handheld console? Were there things you learned from it that you are applying to this game now?
Willits: We consider our Switch development team to be one of our secret weapons – or maybe not so secret anymore! A lot of our reputation over the past few years has been built off of the quality of what that team was able to pull off with The Witcher III. And they’ve said that the World War Z port was their most difficult challenge yet. Because not only did we need to deliver on graphical and performance benchmark fronts as we’ve done for previous Switch ports, but also ensure a high quality multiplayer experience. World War Z on Switch was just released this month and seeing some of the hardcore Switch YouTubers giving positive reviews directly comparing the graphics, performance and experience against the console versions has been so rewarding.
MP1st: Will the game have voice chat built-in?
MP1st: What kind of performance should players expect in terms of frame rate and resolutions?
Willits: The frame rate on Switch targets 30 FPS with dynamic resolution and our temporal antialiasing technique, and 720p target resolution with some video scaling in handheld mode during really graphically intense scenarios.
We’d like to thank Saber Interactive for taking time out of their busy schedule to chat with MP1st. World War Z is out now for the PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, X, PC, and Nintendo Switch. You can read our review of the Aftermath expansion for WWZ, right here.