Mad Max (2015 video game)
|Publisher(s)||Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment|
|Release date(s)||NA 1 September 2015
AUS 2 September 2015
EU 4 September 2015
|Genre(s)||Vehicular combat, action-adventure|
Mad Max is an upcoming vehicular combat and third-person action video game set in an open world environment and based on the Mad Max film series. It is being developed by Avalanche Studios and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. It is scheduled to be released on Linux, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on 1 September 2015 in North America, 2 September 2015 in Australia and 4 September in Europe.
Announced at the 2013 Electronic Entertainment Expo, the game was "retooled" during development, and the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions were cancelled due to their hardware graphical limitations. Originally set to be released in 2014, the game was later delayed to 2015, making it one of the four titles to be released during Avalanche Studios' "biggest year since its inception" in 2003. The development of the game is being handled by Avalanche Studios in Sweden, while another project, Just Cause 3, is being handled by Avalanche's division in New York.
The game is set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, which features terrains like canyons, caves, and deserts. Players control Max Rockatansky as he progresses through the wasteland to seek for his lost car, the Interceptor, and to build his ultimate car called the Magnum Opus. The game's story is standalone, and was never planned as a tie-in of Mad Max: Fury Road, a film that was released in May 2015. Inspirations for the game were taken from the Mad Max universe instead of the films. The game's narrative and story will also be more "mature" than other titles developed by Avalanche like Just Cause.
The game puts heavy emphasis on vehicular combat, in which around 60% of the game requires the player to drive their car to fight against enemies. Vehicular customization is also featured in the game. Avalanche Studios found developing a vehicular combat video game "a challenge" due to their inexperience in creating a game of similar style.
Mad Max is a post-apocalyptic action-adventure game, with a heavy emphasis on vehicular combat, in which the player takes on the role of titular character Mad Max (Kym Bradley). According to the publisher of the game, up to 60% of the game's campaign requires the player to drive. Mad Max will feature a variety of weapons which Max can use to defeat his enemies. Though the shotgun is Max's weapon of choice, ammo is scarce, so melee options are the smarter approach. The 'Thunderstick' is an explosive weapon that can be lanced into an enemy's chest, blowing up the victim. The harpoon can be used in-vehicle with Chum riding along. Max's Magnum Opus can be combined with a V12 engine and a powerful ramming ability to destroy enemies' vehicles and weaponry. Weapons, such as flamethrowers and a mounted cannon, and a grappling hook can also be added to the Magnum Opus. When simultaneously driving and aiming, the game enters slow-motion and allows the player to toggle between targets. Despite the game having a third-person perspective, players can switch to first-person view when the player is engaging in combat with enemies while driving the Magnum Opus. In order to encourage exploration, the Magnum Opus can be upgraded by using scavenged materials found in the desert, by hijacking enemies' cars or by collecting enemies' car parts. Nitro boosts are also featured for acceleration. Armor and weapons are also available for customization in the game. Enemies sometimes will hop on top of the Magnum Opus in an attempt to make it explode, but the player can avoid that by adding dangerous hazards, such as spikes, around the car. The player has access to the garage screen throughout the game, allowing the players to customize the Magnum Opus for any occasion. Max's garage can be used to change and modify the car's engine, chassis, wheels, body works, including paint jobs, and the "shell" of the automobile. However, upgrading one aspect of the car will negatively affect other aspects. For example, upgrading the engine will allow Max to drive faster, but it will also negatively affect the handling.
The landscape of the game is made up of canyons, caves, deserts and abandoned wastelands. The game's world is broken up into several regions, with each region having its own unique backstory and landscape. Unique landmarks and ruins can also be discovered in each region. Side activities, such as invading enemies' forts and eliminating enemies' convoys, can also be found in each region of the game. The 'threat level' of the region will be lowered by completing such activities, and thus allowing players to navigate the world in a safer way. Each region in the game has its own boss, who can be found and defeated in their base. Friendly strongholds will be featured in the game. By establishing a friendly relationship with them through eliminating hostile enemies' strongholds will provide Max with new quests and rewards.
Most resources in the game are scarce besides gas, as the game's core emphasis is driving. Fuel is also needed for driving. Players can collect one jerrycan at a time, which can be stored at the back of the Magnum Opus. Players can collect collectibles called history relics throughout the game. They are mainly photos and notes of the wasteland created before the apocalypse, allowing players to get a better glimpse of the world.
Food and water are vital for Max's survival in the game. Max can venture into "The Big Nothing", an unmapped volatile area of the wasteland, that is consumed by dangerous sandstorms without any food or water present. Rare parts for the Magnum Opus can be found there. Max can eat small animals such as rodents and maggots from decomposing corpses to replenish his health. Areas where Max can find food and supplies have crows flying around. A dynamic day-night cycle and weather system, as well as a variety of environmental hazards, will also be included in the game. The terrain of the game's world will also be affected by the weather and the natural disasters featured in the game. Max can also ride up a hot-air balloon, which is permanently attached to the ground, to look for new objectives and locations. These objectives will then be highlighted and shown on the map if Max views them with binoculars.
Many gameplay choices are given in the game, such as either playing silently or aggressively. Despite allowing players to perform silent takedown with a knife, the game emphasizes on action instead of stealth. The game also features a free-flow combat, similar to Warner Bros' previous Batman: Arkham series of video games, in which indicators will be shown on enemies' heads to remind the player to ward off the attacks from them, while a prompt will be shown to the player if the player can perform a finishing move. Attacks performed by Max during the "frenzied" state will become more powerful than usual. Max can get guidance from Chum about how he can complete his objectives strategically. Chum will also repair the car for the player once the player exits the car.
Max's journey to the Plains of Silence takes an unexpected turn when a group of bandits (run by the warlord Scabrous Scrotus) run him off the road and steal his clothes, his supplies, his weapons, and his car before cruelly leaving him to die alone and stripped of his pride. Traversing the wasteland in search of his prized Interceptor, Max meets a hunchbacked mechanic named Chumbucket, an overzealous individual that's hell bent on crafting the perfect vehicle, the Magnum Opus. After giving Max hope of exacting vengeance on Scrotus, the two form an unlikely partnership and set out in the base of the Opus in search of food, water, allies, upgrades, and redemption in a world devoid of sanity.
A video game set within the Mad Max universe was mentioned by George Miller, the creator of the Mad Max franchise, in an interview in 2008. Miller partnered with Cory Barlog, the director of God of War II, after the departure of Barlog from his former employer, Sony Computer Entertainment, to develop the game. The project was originally set to be a tie-in of a Mad Max animated film and set to be released with it simultaneously. The production of the movie was put on hold so as to give additional time for the game to be developed, in order to maintain the quality of the video game. Barlog announced that they were seeking for a publisher for the game in 2008, and no more information about the project was revealed afterwards. Barlog then in 2010 worked in Avalanche Studios as a consultant but later left in 2012 for Crystal Dynamics. Another Fury Road tie-in video game was also in development by Interplay Entertainment, but was later scrapped as Electronic Arts acquired the rights to develop video games for the franchise for $20 million.
On 14 February 2013, a blurry screenshot of the game was released and was teased by Avalanche Studios' founder Christofer Sundberg. The game was officially revealed at Electronic Entertainment Expo 2013 on 10 June during the Sony press conference. It was slated for release for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One in 2014. However, during the Expo, CEO of Avalanche Studios, Christofer Sundberg, revealed that the project between Miller and Barlog is not the Mad Max game Avalanche Studios is making. However, he admitted that Barlog had worked on a Mad Max game when he was working at Avalanche in an later update. Despite the unclear relationship between the two projects, Miller, according to the game's design director, had collaborated with Avalanche Studios during the pre-production period of the game.
In April 2014, Avalanche announced that Mad Max would be delayed into 2015, making it one of the titles to be released during Avalanche's "biggest year since the inception". The game was "re-tooled" at some point during the development. Despite releasing in the same year, the video game is not directly connected to the 2015 film Mad Max: Fury Road, and was never planned as a tie-in. As a result, the game's setting and story is original and standalone. The reason due to that is that the publisher of the game Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, learning from the success of the Batman: Arkham series, considered that making a standalone game can bring more benefits to gamers than making a "play-the-movie game". Despite that, locations that have appeared before in the movies, such as Gas Town and Thunderdome, will be featured in the game. Unlike previous Avalanche Studios' games like Just Cause 2, the tone of the game will be more mature, and that the company put more focuses on the game's narrative and story.
Similar to the films, Max is a person that seldom speaks or expresses his emotions, but his thoughts are reflected through his actions. The team aimed at building a complex character and personality for Max, so that it will not be "a simple, maybe straightforward character". According to the game's director, Max is traumatized by some of his past experiences, such as losing his family, which is something Max valued the most, and such experiences led him to become "insane", "instable" and "mad". Such quality is reflected in gameplay, leading to a "rage" mode. When the mode is activated, Max deals extra damage when attacking enemies. Chumbucket is Max's mechanics and companion in his journey, who accompanied Max as he had an obsession to build a powerful car like the Magnum Opus. According to the lead writer of the game, Chumbucket "has a pseudo-religious/sexual relationship with engines". Scabrous Scrotus is set to be the game's main antagonist. He is one of the warlords featured in the game and was designed to be a "bloodthirsty monster that only can find solace from his own pain through the suffering of others". Enemies' face are painted and scarred. Frank Rooke, the game's director, explained that such appearances "is kind of the approach of how this civilization merged into this kind of state.”
Lead designer Emil Krafting revealed that the gameplay of the game was the top priority in the development. Similar to the Just Cause series, the developer aims at giving players autonomy and freedom, as well as providing tools for players so as to allow them to make their own events. The studios also aimed at creating a dynamic world by creating "a seamless series of events". Inspirations of the game were drawn from the atmosphere of the Mad Max universe instead of any of the movie in the series. The developer also revealed that they did not plan to draw inspirations from other post-apocalyptic video games such as Fallout, Rage and Borderlands, as many of the ideas of these games were drawn from the original Mad Max. The developer also expressed that one of the challenges they faced was to build the vehicular combat element of the game, due to their inexperience in creating a game of similar style.
The world-design of the game was also inspired by the Just Cause series, which features large sandboxes for players to explore. The CEO of Avalanche Studios, Christofer Sundberg, also hoped that players will draw comparisons between the game's desert setting and the western setting of Red Dead Redemption. The world's size is scaled according to gameplay's density and frequency, and that they company put emphasis on creating a world with choices and distractions, instead of the size of the world. The world of the game is aimed to be dead, threatening and hostile, but exciting and engaging, which encourages exploration. A challenge they have encountered when developing the game is to build a "stunning and varied enough" wasteland environment, as Mad Max is the first game developed by Avalanche to feature a post-apocalyptic environment. As a result, the developer spent most of their time, designing the ground of the game's world and terrain variations so as to prevent the landscape of the game from being too repetitive. As the game is set in a desert, which is mostly brown in color, the team in Avalanche had used more vibrant colors when creating the game's sky. Like the films, the game will not explain the origin of the apocalypse, as they aimed to retain "a sense of mystery" to the wasteland, so as to leave rooms for players to think and imagine how the wasteland had evolved and came to be. Garages, which allow players to upgrade and repair their cars, were once set to be featured in the game. The idea was later scrapped as the studio considered that such element will "interfered with gameplay".
Mad Max will be powered Avalanche Engine, which is an in-house proprietary engine developed by Avalanche used by their previous games like Just Cause 2. According to the lead graphics designer of the game, Alvar Jansson, new graphical features were introduced to the engine during the development of Mad Max, and that the engine was designed and optimized for developing open-world games.
Previews from gaming journalists who were invited to see a private gameplay demonstration at E3 2013 noted that during the demonstration Max was portrayed with an American accent, rather than an Australian one as heard in the film series. Many fans protested against Max's new American voice. However, Avalanche Studios later confirmed that the lead character would have an Australian accent. The location where the game is set is described as a "Wasteland Creole", in which elements from different civilizations are featured. As a result, different characters will have different accents.
The game is set to be released on 1 September 2015 in North America, 2 September in Australia, and 4 September in Europe for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It was announced on 3 May 2015 that the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions had been cancelled due to their hardware restrictions. However, a SteamOS version of the game was announced. Players who pre-ordered the game can receive an additional Magnum Opus design called "The Ripper". Players who purchase the game for the PlayStation 4 can gain access to an exclusive content called "Road Warrior Survival Kit".
Initial reception of Mad Max has been positive. Game Revolution called the gameplay "exhilarating, fast, violent, and fun" and would be the title fans of the series wanted to play. Hardcore Gamer thought that the game could become the "the Biggest Surprise of 2015", while giving praise to the vehicle customization, which he compared to the ship customization of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, while IGN called the game 2015's Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. However, PC Gamer expressed concerns that the game "is trying to be too many things at once". Upon the release of Mad Max: Fury Road, which receive critical acclaim, some critics compare the game negatively with the film, despite the two of them are not related.
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