A trio of employees from United Front Games took to Reddit today, with the intent to answer some questions about Triad Wars. As tends to be the manner of these things, several questions were entirely avoided or selectively answered, but a few more details were forthcoming.
Design director Steve Ferreira, senior producer Justin Bullard and community manager James Baldwin were the three chaps fielding queries, so any time you see some quoted text in the rest of this news piece, it came from one of them.
Even after reading through the answers, I’m still unclear on how a lot of this self-styled open world action online game is going to work, but here’s what was said. Triad Wars is going to retain the action mechanics (driving, martial arts, shooting) from Sleeping Dogs, but add “strategy based empire building components.” It was reiterated several times that this is an entirely online game, and that the focus is on strategic empire building.
However, the multiplayer aspect was also referred to throughout as “asynchronous.” It was stated that Triad Wars is not an MMO, because it’s about “competing against a smaller set of players in an asynchronous world. We think of it more of an action/strategy/rpg.”
The asynchronous part is puzzling, which is perhaps why United Front kept saying that the best way to experience and understand the game would just be to play it (closed beta sign-ups are under way.) “We’re going to convince you in the best way possible,” was the message. “You’re going to get to try it for free and decide for yourself!”
The team was also keen to stress that Triad Wars is a “live game” and as such “we’ll be constantly updating it and making it better as we go based on community feedback.” While nice in theory, it also left the impression that the “live game” angle was a convenient get-out whenever somebody brought up a feature that isn’t in the game. Want to be a female Triad boss like Broken Nose Jiang? That’s not in there … but it might be later, maybe, possibly. No guarantees.
Repeated questions about Sleeping Dogs 2 (a full, proper Sleeping Dogs 2) were met with the reply that the “entire focus” is currently on Triad Wars, though the team “will take every opportunity to explore this universe.”
On the subject of pricing, it sounds like free-to-play is pretty much confirmed with this response: “How we monetize is something we’ll be testing and tuning based on what we learn in our beta tests. Our guiding principle is that you shouldn’t ever have to pay in order to enjoy the game.”
The map will apparently be a “section of Hong Kong from Sleeping Dogs” with plans to expand it further. Again, this reduced map, combined with the asynchronous multiplayer really has me baffled about how missions and territory expansion will even work. Obviously each instance of the ‘map’ will be restricted to a few players. I guess they then conduct raids on your territory and you learn about these actions next time you log in, perhaps?
The AMA expanded on a few areas, but left me with greater confusion about others. I guess the closed beta sessions will reveal all.
Throughout all this I’m finding it hard to shake the feeling that this “online” direction has been dictated from higher up the Square Enix chain, and the United Front staff are just having to go along with it. That’s pure speculation on my part, but it seems such a counter-intuitive decision to ditch the strongest parts of Sleeping Dogs (story, character etc) for this follow-up that I’m inclined to believe it came from someone fairly out of touch.