Contrary to what some people might think, it’s not easy to develop a game based on an existing and beloved license. Not only are there expectations from the brand’s fans, but you have to know when to get elements from the universe, and when to make your own mark. Cold Iron Studios is the latest game developer who has that problem, as the team has just released Aliens Fireteam Elite — a PvP third-person shooter based on the Alien franchise.
Before launch, we had the opportunity to speak to the studio about the game, Answering the questions is Craig Zinkievich, Head of Cold Iron Studios.
MP1st: Any details on the exchanges that made it possible to include elements from Creative Assembly’s Alien Isolation?
Zinkievich: When we started on Aliens: Fireteam Elite we got the freedom to draw inspiration from whatever existed in the Alien universe — not just the movies, but the video games, novels, comics, action figures… everything! As huge fans of the franchise, that was like being kids in the candy shop. We wanted to make sure we pulled elements from all our favorite Alien media and experiences. Along with tons of other familiar and deep lore references, we knew “Working Joes” just had to make that list.
MP1st: There are a lot of different enemy types in Aliens Fireteam Elite, but the big one we didn’t notice were facehuggers. Are they in? If not, what was the reason behind not including them?
Zinkievich: There are four campaigns in Aliens: Fireteam Elite; each one taking place in a different environment and telling a part of the story around LV-895. Each of the campaigns also introduces new enemies into the game.
Facehuggers and Xenomorph Eggs tend to stick closer to a “Hive” rather than just being strewn about. It’s pretty hard to imagine an Aliens game without such iconic enemies. (wink wink)
MP1st: For the AI is there some sort of director, kind of like L4D? In some of our runs we did notice the Prowler would spawn in different spots, and sometimes other Xenomorphs would come out from different vents, or sides of a room versus in the previous run.
Zinkievich: There is definitely a lot of variety in the way the game is populated so that you get new and different experiences each time – even if you’re running through on the same difficulty.
Yes, there is a series of heuristics and algorithms behind the scenes that help make sure that the gameplay experience continues to be exciting and your Fireteam is pushed forward.
MP1st: The challenge cards were a really enjoyable way of changing up the gameplay and adding a helping hand or steep challenge. Any plans to allow multiple cards to stack at once so that players can really push the limits of their teamwork?
Zinkievich: When we designed the system, we looked at stacking cards versus just one active card. We found that if you stack modifiers, you become really limited in what you can do before most combos become situations where cards either cancel each other out, break the game, or just plain become un-fun. We went with a single active card, because we wanted to do the craziest “What If” things possible.
MP1st: We didn’t get the chance to try out Horde Mode, what can you tell us about it?
Zinkievich: We plan to reveal more information about Horde Mode closer to launch. Be sure to stay tuned for details.
MP1st: What are the plans for supporting the game in the long term insofar as new maps, gear, or game modes?
Zinkievich: We’ve already revealed that the Deluxe Edition comes with “…four additional cosmetic DLC bundles – that will be released alongside upcoming free major gameplay updates.” But we plan on sharing more details about the post-launch road map closer to launch.
MP1st: Are we by any chance going to see some classic character skins, such as Hicks and the rest of the cast from Aliens?
Zinkievich: Aliens: Fireteam Elite is all about you creating your own marine, leveling them up and customizing them through their own experiences.
MP1st: Alongside Aliens Fireteam, there’s Back 4 Blood, Rainbow Six Extraction, and other co-op, PvE-focused shooters. Why the sudden re-emergence or was it all just a coincidence?
Zinkievich: I think the Co-op Survival Shooter is a beloved genre that hasn’t seen enough support over the past few years. For us, it’s a genre we love and it’s the perfect gameplay for an Aliens experience. Perhaps other game developers wanted more of these games, too. I’m excited to see how each one helps move the genre forward!
We’d like to thankt Cold Iron Studios for taking time out of their busy schedule to talk to MP1st! You can read our review of Aliens Fireteam Elite here. Aliens Fireteam Elite is out now on the PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.