(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLM9VzWv1GM (/ embed)
The original Warlock Project, a retrograde FPS released in 2018, married Wolfenstein 3D flat sprites and level design with modern progression systems and extensive weapon upgrades. This formula worked pretty well for Jakub "Kuba" Cislo, who developed Project Warlock alongside a small team while still in high school. After playing the demo recently, I can see why it has been reviewed well. The weapons have a good punch and the sharp sprites combine well with modern lighting and particle effects.
Cislo and the rest of Buckshot Software are complete with Project Warlock 2, which premiered successfully today at the PC Gaming Show 2021 with a new trailer.
Project Warlock 2 is scheduled for Early Access on Steam on July 29, with a Kickstarter scheduled for late June to help fund two more episodes. The three episodes will feature around six major levels with a different protagonist in each. The three new faces will apparently be disciples of Warlock's main character from the first game.
One of the priorities of Cislo and the team has been a complete reworking of the magic system that, in the original game, ended up forcing players to choose between weapon upgrades or new spells. “In the end, not everyone liked that idea,” he said. "A lot of players were afraid to buy spells instead of upgrades because they're worried the spell won't be so good." In the sequel, magic is no longer obtained from the mana pool used for weapons and spells will have simple recovery times. The goal is to encourage the use of useful spells without affecting your basic arsenal of weapons.
Speaking of weapons, Project Warlock 2 will also have more (22 total weapons are planned for episode 1). Taking note of the latest Doom games, weapons will be updated on branch paths that add new features and change the look. Cislo used the example of an assault rifle that can be upgraded with an alternate mode of explosive fire or range. It may seem basic, but there are also things like magic wands, so areas probably won’t be the norm. Unlike Doom Eternal, these upgrade options seem to be permanent. Players will not be able to switch between updates on the fly, an option Cislo hopes will encourage players to play the game to try different permutations.
At the top of the list of Project Warlock 2 was reinvented the level design, which will be "vertical as hell" in the sequel. “We’re adding a lot of verticality to the levels, the geometry will be much more complex,” Cislo said. "Most levels are complex multi-story mazes."
My eyes tend to glow over the aggressively flat designs of the first FPS maps, so it was great to hear it. To keep players from getting lost, Cislo says the levels are designed around recognizable landmarks that help players orient themselves visually without having to rely on a minimap (although he also has one). Looking back on the first Warlock Project, Cislo recalled the "hard work" of making an interesting level design under the self-imposed restrictions of evoking the simplistic flat maps of Wolfenstein 3D. "I think we've somehow achieved that and I'm very proud of the level design," he said. "These were the restrictions I gave myself to make the best 3D Wolfenstein clone possible."
The shift to verticality is a pretty major change that Cislo believes will have an effect on the feel of the rest of the game. On the one hand, the levels are much higher this time. To compensate for the longer sessions between levels, Project Warlock 2 will have a complete adequate saving system with automatic saves and fast / quick load saving. The lack of manual guards from the first game (the only checkpoints were between levels) was a controversial option when the first game was released. "I really think with Project Warlock it was a good idea because the levels were short. You could easily finish one or two levels in five or ten minutes." Higher levels that players might not finish in a single session needed some sort of savings solution.
Perhaps most intriguing is the little touch Buckshot adds to delve deeper into the combat of Project Warlock 2. Cislo mentioned that all enemies will have their own weaknesses and resistances that players will have to resolve by experimentation. Monsters will also gain "stress" as you deal more damage in a short period of time, which can make them more sporadic and less accurate (like the old Metal Gear Solid 4 Snake).
In this way, players are rewarded for keeping pace and wreaking havoc, although there will also be a good reason to slow down from time to time. Additional perks will be hidden for the characters in the secret areas (fake walls, hidden switches, these good things from the 90's FPS).
It’s true that my shooting interests have been limited primarily to games that recreate the first polygonal era, but Project Warlock 2 may break that streak for me. Expect to see more about the game when episode 1 goes into early access on July 29th.