Hi everyone, my name’s Jason Kingsley, and it’s an honour to write my first post for the PlayStation Blog. I’m the Creative Director and Co-founder of UK studio Rebellion. You might already know us from the Aliens Versus Predator and Sniper Elite games but right now we’re putting the final touches on Zombie Army Trilogy which launches on PlayStation 4 on 6th March.
When PlayStation asked if we’d like to write something for you, my first thought was “Well, what will they want to know?”
Since we announced Zombie Army Trilogy in January, we’ve been absolutely inundated with emails and questions on Twitter and Facebook, so I asked our community team to compile some of the most common ones in the hope that we can give you a little insight into what we love most about Zombie Army Trilogy, our influences, and the game’s development.
Okay, here we go!
Didn’t the Zombie Army series start out on PC? Why are you bringing it to PS4?
Nazi Zombie Army came about because we wanted to try a new way of making games and publishing them. It was fun to use our tech from the Sniper Elite games and tailor it for four-player co-op, which was something we’d never done before.
Looking back, it was a whirlwind few months for us – we gave ourselves maybe a month between announcing and launching the first game, and then it just took off on Steam. Gamers and streamers really got behind it, we went into production with a sequel, and the rest is history!
We always wanted to support as many platforms as possible, but the consoles at the time couldn’t handle the PC tech we were pushing. With so many people emailing and Tweeting us about it, we had to first prove to ourselves that it was viable both in terms of game dev, and financially.
Later that year we started getting dev kits for PS4, and were impressed with how Sniper Elite 3 performed on the hardware. It was then the penny dropped and we realised, “We can do this – let’s bring Zombie Army to consoles.”
I never got to try the series on PC. What can I expect now it’s coming to PS4?
A stiff challenge! Seriously though, Zombie Army Trilogy is a third-person shooter built on intensity. It’s three whole campaigns battling demonic super soldiers across an alternate vision of World War II Germany. You can take them on solo, but it’s at its best in co-op for up to four players.
Expect to face legions of zombies and skeletons, terrifying occult bosses and maybe even the Führer himself. We don’t leave players defenceless of course – they’ve got an arsenal of iconic Second World War firearms and a lot of explosive traps that can be chained for huge explosions.
Sniper Elite is very much in the game’s DNA so the infamous X-ray Kill Camera is back – but this time you’ll see the rotten insides and bones of the undead. The series’ trademark ballistics have also made it over intact, so you’ll need to take account of factors like bullet drop and heart rate – especially on harder difficulties – if you want to make the most of the power of your rifles.
There’s hardly a shortage of games about the undead! What makes Zombie Army Trilogy stand out?
It’s hipster now for some people to roll their eyes at zombie games, but really they’re a genre in their own right and we love them.
Anyone who visits Rebellion quickly realises we have a lot of passions outside of video games – especially history and horror. The Sniper Elite games always explored the idea of one bullet saving us from an alternate history, so it was a lot of fun for us to flip that around and say “What would have happened if Hitler had found the weapon that could defeat the Allies?”
We really wanted to explore occult horror, and cinema has played a huge influence on the atmosphere. We’ve got a lot of Carpenter, Romero and Fulci fans here, and there are plenty of references if you know how to spot them. The soundtrack in particular has been really popular. We just released some of the tracks on zombiearmy.com for free actually.
From a gameplay perspective what really makes Zombie Army Trilogy stand out is the rhythm to the gunfights. We’re not the first game to seriously test you with huge numbers of enemies, but our design really demands players to focus, work as a team and hold their nerve in tight situations. Panic shooting is bad.
We offer a lot of weapons to shred the undead with but the rifle is still key – run around too much and your heart rate will jump, making precision headshots really difficult. Players need to think about their movement, pick off as many foes as they can before setting up traps and killzones when the undead get too close for comfort.
When you survive those experiences as a team, it’s a huge buzz and that’s why the series has been so popular with both players and streamers in particular.
So the first two games are included, but what NEW content did you develop for Zombie Army Trilogy?
Referring to this game as a Trilogy was very deliberate because we wanted to make sure gamers knew how much new content we’ve been working on. The headline of course is a new third campaign with five new missions which have never been released before. It’s a personal highlight for me – our designers have produced a fitting finish for the series.
Two other big new features actually came about from fan requests – firstly we added four new female player characters, and secondly we developed a new survival-based ‘horde’ mode where players battle infinite waves of enemies across five different maps.
Over the last two years we’ve also learned how to get even more out of our in-house game engine, Asura, so there are lots of other improvements – we made design tweaks, updated animations, improved a lot of visual effects and added a new dismemberment mechanic to pick limbs off your enemies, and we rolled all those improvements back into the original two games.
I know Rebellion from games published with SEGA and 505 Games – why are you going it alone with Zombie Army Trilogy?
We’ve always been about ideas and stories – whether that was being handed the keys to amazing licences like Aliens Versus Predator and Star Wars: Battlefront – or creating and building our own like Sniper Elite, Zombie Army and 2000 AD.
Sony’s approach to indie development on PS4 has allowed studios like Rebellion to flourish by self-publishing.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s tough being your own publisher but we own everything, from the creative vision right down to the marketing and the way we interact with the community. Hard work, but rewarding and it’s a blast getting happy players feedback.
We’ve been around over 20 years but we’ve never been in better health, and Zombie Army Trilogy is just the beginning.
So that’s a wrap as they say. Of course, if you have any more questions get in touch on twitter @rebellion or email firstname.lastname@example.org. See you on 6th March!