Editor’s Note: This interview was originally published prior to launch and is being republished for the launch weekend.
Original: Earlier this week we had the chance to go hands-on with the final, release build of PSVR-exclusive shooter, Firewall: Zero Hour from First Contact Entertainment. In our final pre-launch impressions article we spent a lot of time analyzing the game’s balance, the various maps, and detailing how customization options work. You can read all of that here and find our full rundown of everything you need to know about the title here.
During that event we also got the chance to speak with Hess Barber, President & CEO at First Contact Entertainment and Game Director Damoun Shabestari. We talked about the game’s upcoming launch, reception to the title thus far, as well as post-launch support in the form of potential other game modes and other types of prospective DLC.
Right now Firewall only has one single game mode for the main 4v4 PvP multiplayer offering: Contracts. Equal teams of 4 are separated into Attacking and Defending where the attackers must hack a firewall access point and then gather intel from a laptop, whereas the defenders must prevent the intel from being captured by lasting until the timer runs out (5 minutes) or killing all attackers.
That’s the only game mode other than Solo and Co-Op training, so obviously one of the main burning questions is what about other modes? Team Deathmatch? Capture the Flag? More co-op offerings?
“We’ve definitely talked about all that, but the obvious reason not to do that right now is the player base,” said Barber. “Even if it’s as big as it could be, it’s still gonna be smaller than a normal PS4 game so we don’t want to have multiple game modes spread out and chopping up the player base. Once we see what happens with the players and if there is a good, consistent player base, and it keeps rising, plus DLC, and people keep coming to it, then we’ll release those game modes so we don’t chop up players as much.”
The reasoning makes sense, but it’s still a big want from the community and the game’s not even out yet. Alternative options such as offering a single playlist that cycles game modes (similar to Overwatch) or having timed event for special game modes, like a weekend special for double XP in Team Deathmatch, then it’s gone, or something do exist. But time will tell if that sort of thing is implemented.
“We’ve discussed all kinds of game modes and we’ve tried [team deathmatch] internally since a lot of people naturally play all shooters like a team deathmatch and then adapt to a more tactical style,” said Barber. “So a mode like that is very, very different and it does work and it’s fun, but we just don’t want to split people up. There’s also the immersion factor when you don’t respawn and bullets are hitting all around you and you can feel the pressure and the need to pull back and duck and survive.
“One of the modes we’ve thought of is a hardcore mode where there is no wrist map tablet, one shot you’re down, no names over heads, friendly fire, and all that stuff we want to get to down the track. Definitely something that we’re planning and discussing because there will be that group that wants more intense stuff.”
DLC can take the form of many things, though. Other than game modes or maps, there is potential for new contractors, new guns, new attachments, and more. Some titles even let you purchase in-game currency using real money to sidestep the amount of time it takes to unlock everything — so we asked about that too.
“No, you can’t buy in-game currency,” said Barber. “We didn’t want to have multiple currencies or anything like that. You’re able to purchase items with crypto in-game, but we never have plans to sell currency for money.”
So I understand the need to limit scope and manage resources, but the greedy consumer version of my brain still really wishes there was more Solo or Co-Op content even if not a proper campaign.
“We wanted to do both single player and multiplayer from the start, but when it really came down to it and we budgeted it, the time needed to do a really good single player would probably have been two or three years to really do that well,” said Barber. “So we wanted to be able to have a way for people to play solo, but we didn’t want to call it Single Player because people would expect a campaign so we came up with Training. You can level up and progress in there, but it’s much less than in Contracts.”
The most important thing for Firewall’s success, other than it being a good game once we get the chance to really dig in at launch, is that the community continues playing it. There needs to be enough to do to keep people busy and post-launch support via things like DLC could be a big part of that if done well.
“To be clear, this is not a release and forget game for us,” said Shabestari. I’m eager to see how much longevity a game this ambitious has in the end. With over 3 million PSVR headsets out there, the market is larger now and certainly growing all the time.
Firewall: Zero Hour is slated for release exclusively on PSVR this August 28th. We won’t have a pre-launch review of the game, but you can catch up with our latest hands-on impressions and read our info dump full of details on how everything works.
Let us know what you think of Firewall so far down in the comments below!