For the release of Killing Floor: Incursion on the HTC Vive, we wanted to add the first major content pack to the game. Along with addressing community requests and adding some quality of life features, we also knew that we wanted to create a new game mode that was engaging for multiplayer. Something that was better for a quick play rather than a major time investment. We really enjoy getting sucked in to VR for hours on end, but sometimes you might just want to play a few quick games before dinner.
When working on Killing Floor: Incursion, we always knew we wanted to add a mode closer to the original Killing Floor’s survival game type. A mode that is fun and replayable but also including something that we’ve never tried before. Enter Holdout. When designing Holdout Mode, we set out to try and capture more of an endless, frenetic arcade feeling. By adding elements like power ups and leaderboards we feel that we’ve captured that arcade-like essence that we were looking for.
When Holdout was in its early development stages, we had the core loop of “get weapon, shoot enemy, rack up points” working pretty good. So, while building upon that base we started to add other engaging ways to dispatch the enemies and started with power ups. While playing Holdout in the office, we kept hearing each other say things like, “This unlimited ammo dev cheat should be in the game” or “I wish I could move in real time when slo-mo Zed Time kicks in”. One thing we’ve learned over the years while playtesting our games is that when you keep hearing the same comments repeatedly, you should probably take note…so we did.
Holdout features six power ups in all – here’s a quick rundown:
Unlimited Ammo – No reloading and reduced recoil for the period the power up is active. This power up is especially fun to use with dual AK-12’s.
Vampire – Every shot or melee attack regenerates player health, and when the player’s health is full, the player starts regenerating a shield. I can’t tell you how many times this saved me.
Berzerker – All melee attacks deal explosive damage and the player is invincible. To punch an enemy to then watch them explode into pieces and go flying across the map is a sight to behold!
Zed Time – A Classic Killing Floor staple…The player moves, reloads and shoots in real-time while the rest of the world is in slow motion. This power up with dual Katana’s is pretty amazing.
4x Damage – All damage is multiplied by four. This power up is one that can save you when you hit the 10-minute mark in Holdout and you don’t think you can last any longer. It saves you and gives you hope to extend your playtime.
Nuke – When the player grabs the nuke power up, all enemies currently in the world are destroyed. When 3 Fleshpounds are charging you and all seems lost… NUKE!
After the power ups feature, we started looking at overall balance during the development of Holdout Mode. We were dealing with constraints on the mode for performance reasons that we needed a way to solve. Instead of just throwing more enemies on screen to make Holdout more challenging, we decided to take a page out of Killing Floor 2’s popular Hell On Earth mode and make the enemies much more aggressive. As time ticks up in Holdout, the enemies will become enraged. New enemies that enter the world will no longer be shambling toward the player, but will charge in swinging wildly. By adding rage over time, we could increase difficulty without just adding more enemy health or increase their damage. Sometimes those solutions are valid, but usually they are a last resort.
Scoring in Holdout is simple – Shoot the enemy and get an assigned point value for the specific enemy. While this was fun and did the job, it didn’t feel like we were rewarding the player for skill as much as we should. So, we added headshot chaining for higher scores. When the player gets multiple headshots in a row, they get a score bonus that keeps increasing with every head shot in the chain. This way when the player sees the top spots on the leaderboard with a lower time but higher score than what they have, they know that they’re seeing a player who is also an amazing shot!
So, after adding an endless stream of more difficult enemies as well as new power- ups to dispatch them and a skill based scoring system, the new Holdout Mode was looking pretty good. The last thing we wanted to do was add in another (and tougher) difficulty setting. After the initial release of Killing Floor: Incursion in August, we saw community feedback stating that the game was fun, but gamers felt that we helped the player too much in the campaign and for seasoned players of other VR shooters, the game wasn’t challenging enough. So, after creating Holdout Mode, which eventually will hit an unwinnable pace due to the nature of the mode, we had some new tools to refine the story mode. In the new Hardcore difficulty setting NODE will no longer give the player puzzle hints or give the player health to revive them. This change alone made the game much harder for most players, but that still wasn’t enough. To amp it up even more some enemies will now enter the world already enraged and surround the player instantly. Boss battles have also been adjusted to be more relentless and challenging. Overall, Hardcore is the difficulty setting for someone who feels they are a good shot and want the most serious challenge. Lastly, once we had tackled the Hardcore difficulty setting we made a few other misc. gameplay tweaks. One was cleaning up the freemove implementation and removing the experimental flag. The other was adding the smooth turn for those out there that can handle it.
Killing Floor: Incursion for Vive is available on Steam now and the new features mentioned above (Holdout Mode, Hardcore difficulty setting, etc.) are available to existing Incursion/Oculus owners as a free content download.
This is sponsored content which has been provided by Tripwire Interactive. Leland Scali is the Design Director at Tripwire Interactive.