This past week I was able to sit down with the hugely talented Jehanne Rousseau, video game producer, co-founder and CEO of Spiders – the ever-expanding French powerhouse dev studio behind Greedfall and more importantly, the forthcoming Parisian mechanic-punk action RPG effort, Steelrising. With the release of Steelrising rapidly coming upon us, we talked all things Steelrising, ranging from the inspirations for the game to the likelihood of future DLC.
PSU: What was the inspiration for choosing this setting for Steelrising?
Jehanne Rousseau: The director wanted to create a more action based game then previous titles that have been released in the past. They thought it would be more of a character based action title than a typical RPG. The first version of Steelrising was more abstract with a lot of different looking automation styles, but this led to a lot less consistency across the overall design as a result]. It is when they decided to add the historical element to the game that it made sense, with the player trying to free the folk of Paris, [but it was still a notion that came bit by bit rather than some eureka moment]. Very happy with the result, [we] decided to use these historical element[s], including some buildings in and around Paris and famous characters and then [we] twisted it all into a fantastical world. [Ultimately] it’s a mixture of things that we wanted to make a [game that is] more action based and more Souls-like.
PSU: What is the reason for developing a more action heavy title?
Jehanne Rousseau: The design team are really into the Souls franchise – they really like it and wanted to work on a game with bigger monsters [where the player had to] learn attack patterns and since [they are] an enthusiastic team they decided to give [this new approach] a try. As a result, with the gameplay in Steelrising they had to go outside of their bubble, [since Dark Souls and games of that ilk are] more slow paced about exploration [and so] Steelrising was a new innovation for the team. This meant that we had to create new elements and damage handling was completely different then what they did before. [In Steelrising] Damage is based on location of the body, so that was a main focus [of the development]. [Elsewhere], the animation system and visual effect system has also been changed [from what we did in Greedfall], based on the magic and alchemy that the enemy will be using against you. [This] was a big challenge but [the team] were happy to take it on. [We] wanted to make the enemies fun and interesting [and I think we’ve done that with Steelrising].
PSU: Though Steelrising seems to have a lot more action then previous games you have made, will it still have strong RPG and story elements?
Jehanne Rousseau: Steelrising when compared to Greedfall is a completely different game [with] less dialogue, fewer quests and most of the game is about discovering the environment and fighting. That said, Steelrising still has strong elements of story, but much of it [can be discovered in the] environment, in notes and other objects. So instead of writing the story as a more traditional narrative, it’s up to the player to understand the story and piece it together [in much the same way that Dark Souls achieves this same storytelling approach].
PSU: You mention getting Lore from finding stuff, but is there a way to read the information after you have collected it?
Jehanne Rousseau: There is a diary/codex that can be accessed in the menu so you can read all the items you have found, so if you want to double check and look at the various notes, books and other items you have collected, [there is the ability to do so]. Additionally, enemy and boss information is also included in the Codex menu, [allowing you to prepare strategies in advance].
PSU: Could you go into some detail on the assist mode which helps players that are either new to Souls-like games or action RPGs in general?
Jehanne Rousseau: The assist mode, is to help folks that may struggle with the game. The development team wanted the main game to [embrace this new Souls-like approach], but they [also] wanted to make sure players will be able to enjoy Steelrising without having to learn all the patterns. We discovered that not all the testers could finish the fights, so [we decided to provide this new] assist mode. You can design it based on what you want to change as well – it’s not just a slider it is really something you can use to make your own experience of the game. More than that, it’s also slightly different then original design which helps people that have disabilities to play Steelrising. [Hopefully this assist feature] might help people get into more difficult titles in the future.
PSU: From the alpha gameplay I saw, Steelrising looks gorgeous. It seems you can equip different pieces of gear for stat bonuses but are there any plans for a glamour system? Even though it’s a single player title character appearance does mean alot to a great number of players.
Jehanne Rousseau: Steelrising will not support a visual glamour system, so players cannot apply additional appearance cosmetics on top of the equipment you have equipped. This is a very good question however and we might look into it in the future.
PSU: In the alpha footage there was a fire debuff placed on the enemy, will there be any other debuffs in the game?
Jehanne Rousseau: Yes when the game launches there will be several different elemental types that can be used in combat.
PSU: Are there any plans for a collectors edition or possible future content related to the game?
Jehanne Rousseau: There will be DLC content for sure, with very big DLC planned in the future [which will include] new levels, new story, new weapons and new characters. [In addition] some smaller DLC is also planned, which aside from the preorder bonus will include additional free content that will come later after release. Ultimately though, the Steelrising collectors edition is the best way to get all the extra content.
PSU: Thank you for your time!
Steelrising is set to release on PS5 on September 8, 2022.
A big thank you to Dead Good Media PR for helping to arrange this interview.