Recently, I went hands-on with the new free-to-play, “roguelike” action game that mixes the style of Suda51 and his studio Grasshopper Manufacture with the likes of Dark Souls. The end result is a bit of a mixed bag, with some elements that work and others that’s don’t. You can watch me play below as I give some of my impressions on the game thus far.
Additionally, I had the opportunity to interview creative director Hideyuki Shin and learn more about Let It Die’s free-to-play structure, plans for future content, and PlayStation 4 Pro support.
While playing, I noticed Let It Die can get pretty difficult at time. What sort of systems or incentives do you have in place to keep players motivated?
A major element we want players to know about is that finding blueprints and crafting weapons and armor – that is a very important part of the game. At first it may seem difficult, but after you start crafting weapons and armor, making stronger versions of them, your strength grows over time.
It’s also important to regularly go back to the hub base and redeem experience points to level up your fighter. As your level increases, you’ll be able to craft more powerful weapons and armor.
When you go back to areas you previously went to, you can see how much more powerful you are against enemies you may have had trouble with a month ago. We hope that players discover the amount of progress they made and will want to keep getting stronger, find new blueprints, and keep crafting new cool weapons and armor.
Was it tricky to fit a hack-and-slash action game into a free-to-play model, such as difficulty figuring out which elements can be paid for with real money?
From the beginning of development, we wanted to make sure it would not be pay-to-win. This is not a game where you buy weapons, accessories or stronger characters; that is not in this game. The only thing monetized related to weapons and armor is paying to cut the time it takes for crafting to complete. This is not a game you play for 20 to 30 hours and be done. We’re not saying there’s an end – you will keep on going and strengthening your characters because that wraps into other elements of the game that aren’t just story-related.
So there will not be any special content that can only be exclusively purchased with money?
Correct, there are no weapons or items can only be purchased with real-world currency. The one thing that is exclusively purchased with real money is the Express Pass, which gets you sort-of VIP treatment. You may have noticed at the elevator stops, there are two: a regular one and a really fancy one. The latter is for Express Pass holders only, while the regular elevator only accept the in-game kill coin currency.
The gameplay loop is you fight to get coins and experience, redeem experience points to level up stats, go to the shop, bring blueprints, craft new weapons and items, and thus get stronger. The Express Pass is about providing convenience, making things a bit easier, and speeding up the process, in ways such as reducing crafting times and expanding the amount of items you can carry.
Any particular inspirations behind the combat and gameplay systems?
There isn’t really much inspiration that came from other games. On the surface it seems like a basic action game, but one thing that makes Let it Die unique are all these different kinds of weapons and armor, with a huge variety of possible combinations that can change how you play. There are no one weapon more powerful than another – all the weapons are pretty equally matched, even if it’s a gun versus a melee weapon.
You may come across a character that has a weapon or equipment you’ve never seen before and there’s a guaranteed that you will be able to obtain at some point in the game. You see it in action and think it looks cool and strong? You can totally get it in the future. This is something that I think makes Let It Die unique.
Is there any good reason to leave behind your character when he or she dies and not try to retrieve him or her?
That is one thing you could do: have a decked out character and die on purpose so he or she roams around.
But if you retrieve the character and he or she is back in your freezer, you can send that character to another player’s game and try to wait and kill him or her. It’s a form of asynchronous multiplayer.
Will there be opportunities for people to play co-operatively in the future?
There’s no real-time co-op play planned.
What will keep players engaged in the future? Will there be new story content, environments, weapons, mechanics, etc?
With time, there will be updates with added events and whatnot. The big thing that will keep players going is the metagame multiplayer aspect, with the rivalries between the team you’re on and the other teams. The story does have an end, where all the mysteries are unveiled. but the continuous upgrading of your character, battling other characters, – that can go on forever. You can invade their bases, they’ll invade yours – that rivalry will keep the community playing.
Of course, we have things planned for future updates to keep Let It Die balanced or introduce new things to keep it interesting and fresh, so it’s not just playing the exact same game over and over.
Are there any ideas for the in-game events and how frequent they will be?
Yes, but we can’t give out too much information at this time. We do have things planned for after launch.
Will there be any kind of improvements Let It Die will see on Sony’s upgraded console, the PlayStation Pro?
Well, the game is already running at 60 frames per second but there will be 4K resolution support.
Travel accommodations were provided by publisher GungHo Online Entertainment.