OlliOlli World is already something of a strange, cartoony game, taking place in a world built for skateboarding. It's also one populated by humans, frog businessmen, fortune-telling fish, and skate gods, whose main teachings include grinding and kick-flipping. With its upcoming DLC expansion, Void Riders, the side-scrolling skateboarding platformer is taking things a step further with a cosmic theme and the addition of a whole bunch of aliens.
Though developer Roll7 hasn't revealed much in the way of details about what players can expect for the first story expansion for OlliOlli World, GameSpot got an exclusive look at the DLC's key art, which gives a few clues.
"Yes, it's as weird as it looks," said John Ribbins, Roll7's chief creative officer and co-founder, in an interview with GameSpot. "DLC is an opportunity to, as developers, have fun--we already know how to make the game now. And it's like, what cool twists can we put on it, and stuff like that?"
The twists in Void Riders primarily seem to concern visits by extraterrestrials, whose ships can be seen in the art sucking up objects, characters, and cows, thereby altering OlliOlli World's skatable landscape. Aliens previously made a few cameos in OlliOlli World's Burntrock levels, mostly hanging around in the background as a sort of running Area 51 joke. They're a big part of the foreground in Void Riders, composing a skate crew of their own that you'll interact with, much like those located throughout the different levels of OlliOlli World.
The prevalence of alien visitors offers a sense of the kind of gameplay experience Roll7 is going for. When it comes to its skating, OlliOlli World isn't intensely realistic, of course--you can land ludicrous tricks, grind rail after rail without stopping, and fall hundreds of feet without injury--but the series has put a premium on some elements of realism, like the sorts of tricks skaters can pull off. With Void Riders, Ribbins said the developers were interested in exploring an experience that offers a little more freedom.
"[With OlliOlli World], it has been like, 'let's try and focus on things that actual skateboarders do,' and so it's been fun with the DLC to go, 'Okay, the DLC, let's free ourselves from that. What would just be a cool game mechanic or like a cool thing to do because it's a video game?' As opposed to being, like, 'I also saw that on Thrasher last week,'" he explained.
"And so what we are adding is probably more at the fantastical end of the scale, I suppose, than like more at the skating end of the scale. But I think that's fun; I think it would potentially be a little bit stale if we were just like, 'Oh we've added another skateboard trick,' or something like that. It's been cool to be like, let's just be really out there with this one and do some crazy stuff."
Void Riders brings a new biome to the skate-obsessed setting of Radlandia, the spaced-out alien art style of which is hinted at in the key art. It comes along with new customization options and some new gameplay mechanics--Ribbins suggested that those alien tractor beams in the key art are for more than just sci-fi set dressing. But somewhat notably, this is a story expansion to OlliOlli World, which itself has a narrative running all through its many levels of skating mayhem. In addition to the Void Riders skate crew you can expect to interact with, the key art also shows a big purple blob creature called Nebulord taking center stage.
Something notable about OlliOlli World's story is how positive it is--there's no antagonist, and the characters who show up throughout the game are encouraging of your journey to become a skate wizard. Your chief opponent in OlliOlli World is yourself, as you push to increase your skill level. A skate wizard isn't determined by a specific score or high degree of aptitude, however, but by the personal satisfaction of playing the game and exploring the feeling of skating. Thus, the presence of the spooky-looking Nebulord immediately seems at odds with that approach.
"You put a big, spectral, purple-looking character in the background, people are going to think there's an antagonist," Ribbins joked. "While we want to do different stuff in this [expansion], and tell some other stories, and have new places and characters to see, we didn't want to change [the tone] that much to be like, in this DLC, there's a baddie who you are trying to beat. He's not a baddie, he's just quite selfish. He's quite self-centered. And so that kind of brings a different spin, because you don't really meet any characters like that in the main game."
One of the challenges Roll7 needed to address, Ribbins said, was determining where the story of Void Riders would fit into OlliOlli World, since you spend the game with a crew of characters whose tale already has a set chronology. Roll7 landed on making Void Riders an "adjacent" story to the main game, he explained. You don't need to have finished OlliOlli World and become a skate wizard in order to access the DLC, but that also means Void Riders is not stuck to a specific point in the main game's story.
Being adjacent means that Void Riders has its own new characters, but it also connects to the rest of OlliOlli World and features some of the folks you meet as you travel through Radlandia. There were several characters in the main game who players only interacted with briefly during a few short conversations at the beginnings and endings of levels. Ribbins said that as the team was making OlliOlli World, the idea of spending more time with some of those characters and digging into their personalities became seeds for DLC--although he said exactly which characters you might find in the expansion is "a surprise for later."
In addition to new levels to skate, new characters to meet, and new mechanics to master, the expansion also brings new accessories with which to customize your skater. Some will be appropriately space-themed, it sounds like, and Ribbins said Roll7 took into account how the OlliOlli World community used and interacted with the customization options in the base game in building the new ones. The developers found, for instance, that players generally didn't like onesies as outfits for their skaters, since they tended to limit customization options. The new clothes and accessories coming with the expansion were created with that in mind, offering more chances for players to mix and match.
And though the expansion was planned before the release of the base game, data and feedback about how players took on OlliOlli World affected how Roll7 approached setting the difficulty of the new content.
"[The main game was useful for] being able to look at how people have gone on with the game, where people have struggled, and then to try to map that to where we're pitching the difficulty of the DLC," he explained. "So we try and strike that balance between like, if you are halfway through the game, but you are having a good time, the DLC doesn't require you to finish all the rest of the game and master all the mechanics to have a good time in it. It's still a good time to be had with, like, an average player's skill level, but there's still a ton of challenges and side bits that you can do in there if you finished the game and mastered everything--that's still going to really push you."
There's a lot about Void Riders we don't know, but this initial look at the expansion gives the impression that it'll be another delightfully strange foray into Radlandia. The DLC is set for release this summer and is the first of two planned story expansions. Both expansions are included in the Rad Edition of OlliOlli World on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC, and Nintendo Switch, or as part of an expansion pack that will run players $15 USD.
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