Interview: Grey Box Talks Dreadnought

Posted on by Ryan

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Have you ever watched a movie with an epic space battle? Is the answer yes? Then I’m sure you’ve seen those gigantic ships that slowly appear and give you that sense of dread. Yeah, those have the name of Dreadnought for a reason.

Imagine getting to take control of one of those and strike that fear into the hearts of your opponents. In Grey Box’s hit game, Dreadnought, you get to do just that.

We recently got to sit down and have a hands on of the tactical space battle game and get an interview with one of the developers of the game.

Gaming Conviction: What inspired Dreadnought?
Mike Donatelli: A long time ago there was a game on the original Xbox called Yager. Yager was a game where you would pilot these small craft and at the end of this game you actually fight a Dreadnought. So this has been a thing in the back of these guy’s minds since the original Xbox. They wanted to take this world and go even further with it. One where you could pilot gigantic Dreadnought ships and fight each other, and not just a boss.

GC: How as the reaction from players at events like PAX South affected development?
MD: The console people have been awesome. Console players have been playing it and they’ve been enjoying it. For example with Playstation, this game is on PS4 Pro, it’s got more than enough juice to run this game and we’re actively developing for the Pro now. We want to make use of the 4K and all the things that are coming online.

For an event like PAX South, the folks out here have a lot of commentary so there are some things that I will bring back to the studio. Yager is based out of Germany, so in a couple of weeks I’ll be there with the studio again. They’ve made a lot of changes. We’ve been in beta on the PC right now, but we’ll be in beta on the Playstation 4 within the next few months. The Playstation folks will get a lot of benefits that maybe the PC folks haven’t got. People have said ‘Hey, the learning curve it to steep.’ We’ve added tiers of ships and before you just had access to mix and match everything with is cool, but it can also be bad. So we’ve made structured tiers of ships. We have 51 ships now and 15 classes. We have classes like Dreadnoughts, Destroyers, Corvettes, and the Sniper class. We had light, small, and medium versions of them all, and we just broke them into different things and gave them their own tech trees. By Tie 5 you will be mixing and matching all that kind of stuff, but now you know how to play the game. When you get to tier 5 there are literally maybe several dozen abilities and you can go all over the place. I actually play the Sniper class as more of an assassin. So I have this bomb catapult that I can stealth under you and fire them all up in the air. If I get you you’re dead, but if I don’t then I’ll be dead.

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GC: Are the tiers just for multiplayer and how will that effect you if you play against a much higher level?
MD: Before it was open season. You could get into the game and have 3 abilities, but if you played the game for awhile it just wan’t satisfying. Tiers have helped us. So it’s only wins vs losses, it’s what ship you have and then we know this ship has a fine knight set of abilities. So we can say that it’s worth a point value, and then say how many of those you have filled out. What fleet are you in? Are you in Tier 2 or Tier 3? It adds even more depth to how we matchmake you. It’s gotten way better. You still have to tweak it because you still see a lot of people who are really good at tier 2 ships getting pulled into veteran fleets. We kept it soft, so if you’re really good we could see if you could punch higher than your weight, but we’re still making changes to it. It has helped us out a lot on matchmaking.

GC: What are some of the unique mechanics in the game?
MD: Well nukes are not unique, but they are still fun to call out. As you get further and further up the tiers you fire salvos of nukes and you can see the entire screen get lit up like a Christmas tree. We have these EMP missiles so you can get hit like that and you’re screen will flicker. One benefit for us is that it’s slower and more tactical feeling. I love shooters, but one thing I hated was that you could just get your stuff and run up the stairs, pull out your rifle, then I’m dead. So I can get sniped by half a mile away and not know what happened. Here it’s tactical. You can see a Dreadnought fire 80 missiles and all 80 of them go crazy. So you’ll get alerted and you can try and hide and load up your shields and anti-missiles.

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GC: How large of some of the battles?
MD: Right now the PC versions is 8v8. The build we have here at PAX South is 5v5. We started at 5v5, but as we balanced the game we opened it up to 8v8. It’s wildly different gameplay. That’s for the PC version and we’re looking at getting that for Playstation 4 as well, but for the first round of betas it will be 5v5.

Here in Dreadnought you not only get fleets, but you can also swap out. So if they have a lot of snipers, I can spawn in and have a anti-sniper Corvette with stealth for forward burst damage. I can just sneak over and get them. If they come back with a Corvette I can spawn in with a tactical cruiser where you can spec it to where it does very well against Corvettes. So that Rock, Paper, Scissors vibe keeps it fresh the whole match.

GC: What sort of multiplayer modes will Dreadnought have?
MD: We have Team Deathmatch and Team Elimination. We have other modes that I’m not allowed to talk about right now. We will also have an exclusive piece of content for the Playstation 4 which brings the game to a whole new level. So Team Deathmatch is pretty standard, but Team Elimination is where if you die you die. So at the beginning it’s very important to choose exactly you want to play as. You can also come back in as a fighter like a Jager.

GC: So Dreadnought will still be playable on the original Playstation 4?
MD: Absolutely! We designed this initially for the Playstation 4 and thankfully now we’re not having to wait a decade for major leaps in hardware. So while we have the game at our booths running on Playstation 4 Pro, we built it for the original Playstation 4. Plus this isn’t just going to be another port compared to the PC version.