The first thing you learn in this industry is how hard everyone works. Whether the project is a $100 million blockbuster or a smaller niche title, dozens of people across many different teams – programmers, artists, designers, composers, writers, testers, producers, marketers, and more – spend months if not years of their lives carrying out a thousand different tasks. Some of those tasks are wildly creative, others bureaucratic and mundane, but it takes all of them together to deliver a game into players’ hands.
On Valhalla Knights 3, I was a latecomer. I joined up in early September, when most of the hardest work had already been done. Most of my contributions have been on the bureaucratic side this time around, working with other XSEED members, the game’s developers, and our friends at Sony to get everything ready for the game’s release.
To put my work on this project in RPG terms, think of the design phase as exploration, the programming phase as combat, and my work as the part where you open up the menu and juggle stats and equipment for an hour and a half. Maybe not always as fun or exciting as the rest of the game, but you need that part set up right before you can win.
For me, the highlight of the project was the day the game was officially certified for release. I’m the guy who got to tell the developers the game was done, that we were clear to launch in Europe on 23rd October (you heard it here first!), and that all their work had finally come together. I could almost hear them cheer from across the ocean.
So what exactly have they been working on all this time? We’ve gotten a few questions about what’s in the game, and I wanted to go over them in detail here.
What’s the multiplayer like?
In the competitive online mode, your seven-character party faces off against an opposing player’s seven-character party. Each of the two players begins the match in their own “locker room,” so to speak, equipping and preparing their respective parties. Once both players enter the arena, their parties rumble until one wipes the other out.
As with the main game, each of the two players directly controls one party member at a time, shouting out orders to the rest and switching between them at will. The winning player receives arena points, which can buy new gear and goodies from the arena prize shop. Those prizes, in turn, carry over into both single player and multiplayer.
The original Japanese version of the game only featured an ad-hoc version of this mode, but the North American and European versions both include full online versions over PlayStation Network. We’ve also added leaderboards, as well as a specialised matching system that keeps track of your greatest rivals. North American players will even be able to play people in Europe, and vice versa. No co-op, unfortunately, but the competitive mode fits better with the game’s design.
How hard of a game are we talking about?
Tough, but fair. The game expects you to outfit your team with the best available equipment, keep stock of your items, and pay attention to a quest’s difficulty rating. It’ll warn you when things are about to get tough, and it won’t often try to trap you or trick you. All the same, save often, and resist the temptation to take “just one more fight” before you go back and heal up. (You can teleport back to base with a consumable Return Card, and can dash everywhere you go with a well-timed button press.)
To help keep things fair, we’ve slightly increased the XP rewards for early encounters and lowered the prices of basic healing potions. That’s to keep new players from falling into a death spiral, where they lose all but their last guy, can’t afford resurrections, and can’t survive enough fights with just the one guy to grind for the resurrection money.
What else is coming over from the Japanese version?
Most of the free additional content from the Japanese version has been packed into the game. There were a couple of licensed crossover cameos in the Japanese version, such as a costume from Fate/Stay Night, that didn’t make it across the Pacific, but the rest of the free content (including the Tight Bikini Armor, various… outfits for the hostesses, several bonus quests, and extra options for player character customisation) is there.