New Transformers Fighting RPG Announced for Mobile
Q&A: We talk with Kabam and Hasbro about Transformers: Forged to Fight.
Developer Kabam and toy company Hasbro today announced Transformers: Forged to Fight, a mobile game based on the well-known franchise.
Described as a "high-definition, action-fighting role-playing game with strategy elements," Forged to Fight claims to offer trademark Transformers action. You will assemble an "ultimate" team of Transformers, including Autobots and Decepticons from across almost every era of the Transformers history, and then do battle. The game is set in a colorful 3D world, and battles take place in a number of varied and unique arenas. Click through the images in the gallery below to get a closer look.
The game is set in a "strange new world where multiple realities collide," which in turn creates a "massive planetary battlefield." So, you know, Transformers stuff. Some of the features include 1v1 battles, RPG elements described as being "deep," and base-rading. Some of the playable Transformers include Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Megatron, Starscream, and Grimlock. These characters can be leveled up through gameplay, unlocking more abilities over time.
Forged to Fight enters beta in some territories soon, and will be released widely across the world in Spring 2017. The game is in development at Kabam Vancouver, which is the studio that made Fast & Furious: Legacy and Marvel Contest of Champions.
GameSpot had an opportunity to speak with Kabam's executive producer Mike McCartney and Hasbro executive Mark Blecher about Forged to Fight. They told us about the game's origins, how it handles microtransactions, and what the story is all about, among other things. You can read our full interview below.
Starting off at the beginning, where did the idea for Forged to Fight come from? And what would you say its core pillars are?
McCartney: Well, we've had some experience with action fighting on the mobile platform, so we definitely wanted to push and evolve the genre. Creating core gameplay that is fun then adding in the deep strategic RPG and social alliance building elements are also things we are passionate about. And, as a studio, we've grown a reputation for being true to the brands and partners we work with. Transformers is a massive franchise with an incredibly passionate fan-base. With this in mind, meaningful transformations from vehicle to robot form while in combat became a fundamental pillar to us. When we figured that out, we knew we had something special.
Fighting and collecting sound like they will be major areas of focus for the game--what are you doing in these areas that will set your game apart from the pack?
McCartney: The first thing we've really done to set our game apart from others is to introduce 3D fighting arenas to our game. This allows players to not only move forward and backward relative to their opponent but side step (up and down) as well. Every character in the Transformers Universe has a blaster and we wanted to ensure this was properly represented in the game. Introducing 3D arenas and side stepping allows players to side step to avoid incoming blaster fire. This gives our fighting a unique feel because up close characters' use hand to hand combat, but if they are further away blaster fire is equally dangerous. Having characters who can change into an alternate form also adds a really unique element to fighting. Our team wants to ensure each character has a meaningful reason to change form. Preparing to fight a robot, but also a Chinook Helicopter, forces you to make some interesting strategic choices.
Character collection is a core mechanic of our game and we're really lucky to work with an awesome brand like Transformers. Over the course of its 30+ year history there have been hundreds of unique characters introduced. Giving each of these characters a unique personality, style and move set will motivate players to want to collect each one. Our game is unique in the Transformers landscape because it incorporates both the classic robots from the cartoons, toys and comics but also the newer versions of the robots from Michael Bay cinematic universe. This means that two different versions of say, Iron Hide, could look and feel very differently.
"Generally our approach to RPG is to not overwhelm players right away, but roll out--no pun intended--the depth as they progress through the game." -- McCartney
The release teases a "unique" story that goes beyond purely good and evil--what more can you say on that front--and is this canon?
McCartney: We've worked closely with our partners at Hasbro to create the story of our game. In doing so we've ingested every classic cartoon, comic book, movie, that you can imagine. Our team has immersed ourselves in the Transformers Universe in order to understand each character’s unique personality and quirks. As the game begins Optimus Prime is returning to his home planet of Cybertron after many years of conflict on earth. During the course of his travels his ship encounters a strange anomaly in space and crash lands on a strange planet. Through the course of the game Optimus is attempting to unravel the mystery and escape the planet.
Forged to Fight will have "deep" RPG elements--what more can you say on this? And what are you doing to ensure it's deep yet approachable?
McCartney: Generally our approach to RPG is to not overwhelm players right away, but roll out--no pun intended--the depth as they progress through the game. Fortunately, RPG elements are becoming increasingly popular and understood by all sorts of game players, so adding more depth doesn't tend to overwhelm. People are ready to be engaged and build out teams that suit the fight or event they're involved in.
There is a new movie, The Last Knight, coming out next year--will there be any tie-in content or promotions with the upcoming movie?
Blecher: We're exploring opportunities to integrate content from across the Transformers brand universe, including Paramount's blockbuster movies.
How much freedom are you afforded in the Transformers universe? It's obviously a massive, revered franchise--but I'm guessing you want to push things forward with your own unique voice, so to speak, as well.
McCartney: We work closely with our partners at Hasbro to ensure that we stay true to the franchise and lore established over the course of the last 30+ years. We also take the history of the Transformers franchise very seriously. For example, before we start work on a new character we have a bit of a classroom session for everyone working in that character. Our Transformers experts walk everyone through the history of the character and his / her personality traits. This gets everyone in the right mindset before starting work on a character. With regard to the story and character dialogue, Hasbro has been amazing. They give us the freedom to create our own vision and then feedback if something isn't true to lore, or if we're pushing something too far. For the most part this interaction has been minimal. We're excited about continuing work with Hasbro in the future and we have a lot of ideas we can't wait to collaborate on.
"Our team works hard to ensure the game will be balanced, so that those who choose to spend money won't have an advantage against players who choose to spend time to acquire the same assets" -- McCartney
You've got a beta coming up before release--what are you hoping to achieve there? Is this more of a server stress test or are you workshopping new features you want to test out?
McCartney: The goal of most early betas is to stress test our servers and make sure that the tuning and game balancing is on point. Beyond that we want to roll out our core features and ensure that the gameplay itself is fun. With Forged to Fight, some of the core features are different from what our studio has tackled in the past, so Beta is key. Later, we’ll start exploring reactions to other new features.
The Transformers series has been around for 30-plus years and continues to grow and evolve. What do you think has led to its enduring appeal?
McCartney: At its heart it tells classic stories of good versus evil. But it also brings the intriguing notion of robots being imbued with human qualities...they live, they make friendships, they have passions and unique personalities. There's a bot for everyone. And, of course we can't forget that they change into super cool vehicles--and rad guns...we're looking at you Shockwave! With Transformers you have something that appeals to the kid and adult in all of us.
Blecher: The Transformers brand has been a childhood staple for decades and Hasbro is proud that people continue to build emotional connections with the Autobots and Decepticons. At the end of the day that enduring popularity boils down to one simple thing--great storytelling. It's a story about good vs. evil, the power of teamwork, the importance of honor and respect, and of course, the compelling partnership between the Autobots and humanity.
The brand continues to resonate with fans because these characters feel as lifelike as they did in 1984 thanks to being reimaged year after year by a long line of talented writers, designers and artists. What's great about Forged to Fight is that it celebrates every step of that evolution.
How does Forged to Fight handle microtransactions? What will be available and how are you ensuring the game avoids a pay-to-win scenario?
McCartney: Transformers: Forged to Fight is a free-to-play game. Every player will experience the same storyline and have access to all the same in-game content. Our team works hard to ensure the game will be balanced, so that those who choose to spend money won't have an advantage against players who choose to spend time to acquire the same assets.
Anything else people should know about Forged to Fight?
McCartney: The team here at Kabam Vancouver has put their heart and soul into this title. Everyone is very passionate to not only launch the best product possible, but also to engage and listen with the fan base of our game and the Transformers brand. We’re really excited to get this game in everyone’s hands in the Spring of 2017!
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