Our first INSANE update for Samurai Zero is now underway! It’s important to start off by saying that this is not the final changes for any one thing, so if you don't see a change here based off of feedback you have given from previous playtests, that doesn't mean we aren't considering it. There are still a lot of additional changes we plan on doing in future updates as development continues.
While we are pushing out huge changes to the game, we wanted to also fix some critical issues we found during last year’s playtest as well. Grab a cup of coffee and let's dive right in with the big hitters!
NEW SAMURAI: LUNA
After her initial teaser during our reveal event for Samurai Zero, we have been working hard to bring our newest Samurai to life. We are very proud of this moment as for the first time, you all will be able to experience how Samurai Zero offers different playstyles with each of its Samurai. Luna is the first of many that will join the roster, bringing her own combat style, skill arts and heroic arts.
Luna is an offensive support hybrid, bringing the first group of support utility mechanics into the game and a new combat art style inspired by fencing.
NEW GAME MODE: ELIMINATION
Elimination is a multi-round 3v3 competitive game mode. The goal of Elimination is to eliminate the entire enemy team's lives, but there is a twist! You can win by eliminating all of the enemy team at once. This essentially means once the first enemy is eliminated, your team has a limited window to eliminate the rest of the enemy team to win the round early! This game mode also features a timer per round. If the round time runs out before either team is eliminated, it will result in a draw. Elimination features 2 minute rounds. First team to 5 rounds wins the match!
The idea behind this game mode is taking that high octane intense energy found in duel and turning it up to 11. Elimination requires a combination of skill and strategy all while happening in a fast-paced environment. Each round lets you reset to employ strategies, and counter strategies, in order to try and out maneuver the enemy team. Being the last player alive pushes those clutch experiences as you try and hold out until more of your teammates can respawn or going for the final blow against the enemy team.
NEW SYSTEM: TACTICS
Tactics is our brand-new, game-changing gameplay system that brings a entirely new level of strategy to Samurai Zero’s core gameplay loop. When we started developing 3v3 and our rounded based philosophy we felt there was a lack of options for players to adjust their strategies based on the status of the match.
With our new Tactics system, players will be able to customize their character’s playstyle in between rounds creating an entirely new meta level of customization and tactical options. This new tactical layer promotes, teamwork and synergy as players can create a bunch of different builds for their character based off of their performance.
Tactics are given a cost value based off of how powerful their effects are. This cost is translated into a reward economy system that gives players points that we call honor based off of actions they do in the middle of the round (eliminations and completing objectives).
NEW SYSTEM: BUFF/DEBUFF STATUS
With Luna, we knew we needed to build out a system that could handle a bunch of status effects that players could inflict on themselves and others as the game expanded. Our goal was to enable the system to not only visually show you when you are under the effects of a buff or debuff, but also give a notification snapshot of everything affecting you in real time. Here are a list of some of the new statuses you may be inflicted with soon:
- Healing: idk this could mean anything lol
- Vulnerable: You take 50% additional damage.
- Empowered: You deal 50% additional damage.
- Disoriented: Prevents you from doing advanced movement. (sprinting, jumping, wallrunning, dashing)
NEW SYSTEM: RESPAWNING
Since Elimination requires players to respawn, we have developed a backend system that handles respawning and spawn locations. This system was built to be dynamic and reusable as we start developing additional game modes. Our design philosophy behind respawning is simple: you should be able to rejoin a battle without worrying about an enemy appearing right beside you.
NEW SYSTEM: SPECTATING
With our new game mode, we developed our first iteration of a spectating system. This system will activate when you are waiting to respawn allowing you to view other active allies who are currently alive. This is our first major step as we expand this system for private matches with spectator slots and potentially joining a match in progress spectators.
We are introducing our newest map for samurai zero: Tower! This is a huge deal because this map has been designed with a bigger player count in mind.
Compared to our Blazing Cliffs map, Tower takes to the sky with a cyberpunk-lite aesthetic mixed with Edo period samurai vibes. Players will find themselves playing on a couple of floors of a huge skyscraper tower as they fight up towards the top.
Our goal with this map is to create our first internal map with a different style of movement compared to the Blazing Cliff's vertical pillars. There are more ways to break line of sight and use wall running to get the drop on your enemy. However, there are some floor plans that are wide open, allowing for players to be found quickly, leading to exciting fast-paced gameplay. Engagements happen constantly, requiring you to be prepared to fight as soon as you respawn.
We are also very excited to introduce another huge feature for Samurai Zero with this map: Destruction. On Tower, not only are there objects that can be interacted with and destroyed, but walls that can be breached to create brand new lanes of traversal. While Tower features what we like to call micro destruction, it has become a proof of concept for us as we develop even more “interesting” ideas for future maps.
NEW USER INTERFACE
From last year playtest, many of you went into it understanding it was a very early version of Samurai Zero. One obvious indicator of this was our UI especially for the menus. This time around we wanted to really establish Samurai Zero’s Visual style and themes with a brand new UI pass. We have overhauled almost every single area that players interact with from booting up the game to playing a match. There are still additional areas that need updated visuals, but for now, this new user interface experience is a massive improvement.
RESOLVE & DEFLECTING
From our playtest, we got a couple of feedback items in regards to the general mechanics and some specific mechanics regarding Ryder. These changes are right now experimental to help us try some variations for our core combat engine. Our main focus is taking a look at our resolve and deflect system and improving on the risk/reward mechanic. At this time, we felt deflecting was a bit too forgiving and easier to pull off than what we initially wanted. So, we went under the hood and make some core changes into how deflections get called. While it is a bit complicated, here is the simple explanation.
Now, whenever you hit by an enemy’s combat art damage, a deflection disabled window is called for you. Within the next .8 seconds of being hit, if you try to guard any attack, it will never deflect the attacker and will instead guard the attack. Our design decision behind this was too many times in testing, people were too scared of trying to complete a full combo. This was in large part due to how an enemy could just simply hold the guard button and eventually would get a guarantee deflect on the attacker.
We believe that combat in Samurai Zero should feel like a dance and with these changes: resolve, guarding, deflecting and counter attacking have become more of a back and forth between two combatants than just panic pressing guard when under assault. To balance this out, we have increased resolve levels across the board so you can take more hits before breaking.
- Deflection trigger window reduced from 700 ms to 500 ms
- Cone area for blocking in front of you has been increased from 70deg to 85deg
- Guarding no longer queues into the input system. Players must now time their input when guarding is possible.
- Increased Overall Resolve Pool
- Ryder's Resolve increased from 275 to 600
- Deflect System's default deflection damage percentage has been reduced from 95% to 90% of damage
- When you attack someone whose resolve is broken, you will no longer knock them out of the broken state, making it easier to complete finishers.
During our playtest, we found many players utilizing and enjoying our parkour system. However, one thing that became apparent was its need for a bit of polish. We received reports from players that Ryder would get stuck sometime while wall running both vertically and horizontally. We investigated this issue and we were able to reproduce it consistently.
At first, we thought it was an issue with our map collision, but discovered the issue lied more in our implementation of how you wall run. So, we took some time to overhaul the entire wall running system. Internal tests revealed 99.99% improvement of players no longer getting stuck on walls. We will continue to monitor this, just in case there needs to be extra tweaking.
Behold! We have one more surprise! We have taken the shackles off of wallrunning for all Samurai. Instead of it being limited to a consistent speed across the board, wallrunning will now take into consideration your current velocity as you engage it, allowing you to keep your current momentum up to a certain point as it decays back to the default speed.
- The wallrunning speed now matches whatever your samurai’s max sprint speed currently is.
- Velocity is now taken into consideration when entering wallrunning, allowing you to continue that burst of speed for a small window of time.
- This allows for more advanced movement techniques like chaining a sprint slide into a wallrun for increased speed.
NEW MECHANIC: FOCUSED ATTACKS
As we started developing Luna and making improvements to the combat engine, we started to look at player behavior and which mechanics caused certain patterns. One discovery was that longer more drawn out attacks or attacks with a slower attack speed were not the best choice to use due to how easy you could be hit stunned during the animation. We experimented with some possible solutions and developed the following.
Introducing Focused Attacks: a special trait that certain attacks can be imbued with. Focused attacks grant the attacker a resistance to being staggered or stun-locked from being hit by an enemy’s combat arts. You may find it similar to something like Poise or Super Armor in other games. Based off our design discretion, certain attacks now will be focused, making them safer to be used in combat without the fear of never being able to make them land. Keep in mind however that focused attacks do not give you I-frames, so you will still take damage if an enemy hits you with any attack during the animation.
We have also created a new visual effect for focused attacks, so the person being attacked is made aware of what type of attack is coming their way. As a person being attacked, keep in mind that focused attacks can still be guarded and deflected, not to mention you can also dash evade.
Ryder is in a really good spot right now with his entire kit. We did however, notice some play patterns that utilized his skill arts and heroic art in some unintended ways. These small adjustments are just further refinement of his overall kit's balance.
- Ryder now has a slight 5 ms delay in between activation of his Instant Flash Skill Art
- Ryder's Instant Flash Skill Art max range has been slightly reduced by 200m.
- Ryder's Instant Flash Skill Art VFX has been adjusted to be more defined.
- Ryder’s Instant Flash & Speed Razor Skill Arts have had an updated audio pass.
- Ryder's Stellar Conclusion Heroic Art VFX has been adjusted to fit him more thematically.
- Ryder's Stellar Conclusion Heroic Art has had its total damage reduced from 1,200 to 980.
- Ryder's Stellar Conclusion Heroic Art has had its hitbox increased by 50%. In return, the speed by which Ryder dashes during his attack has been slightly slowed down by 10%.
- Ryder's Stellar Conclusion Heroic Art pushback force has been increased by 30%.
We also made some polish updates to Ryder’s animation system. Our goal was to further define Ryder’s silhouette when moving.
- Updated all of Ryder’s walk animations.
- Updated all of Ryder’s run animations.
- Improved animation blending.
Thanks to feedback from everybody, we learned that while Clash was a interesting mechanic and a cool way to start a match, many felt its results were too punishing for the loser and gave them a huge disadvantage going into round one. So, we went back and reevaluated the design of Clash and we agreed. We have now changed the reward system for Clash from dealing damage to the loser to instead empowering the winner.
- Winner of the Clash will gain one charge for their Heroic Art.
- Loser will not be damaged or given any debuffs entering into round one.
In our first playtest, we let everyone know that while controller was supported, we really didn’t get the time to polish the entire experience with a controller. Now with our latest update we have made a couple of changes to make the experience of controlling a samurai much better.
In the input settings, there is now a new toggle that will allow you to change how you interact with the sprint button. Instead of always being required to hold it down, you can now just tap the button to start sprinting. While this was intended for controllers, you can also do this for keyboard and mouse.
ALTERNATE COMBAT LAYOUT
When developing Samurai Zero’s input schema, we wanted to ensure players could customize it to fit their own personal preferences. Once thing that came out of feedback during playtest was a preference of how attacks inputting was handled. Currently, the game uses a stance system that shifts attack commands from light to heavy attacks. We call this our 'tactical' setup and is used by default.
With this update we are also shipping an alternate input option called the 'action' setup which will be familiar to fans of hack and slash action games. This removes the stance system input with instead a dedicated heavy attack button input and the default attack button now becoming the light attack input button.
Regardless of which you choose, the system will still be accepting player input the exactly the same and will not give any advantage with one layout over the other. We hope this satisfies everyone's preferences and are looking for more areas of opportunities to give our players more options.
- Fixed bug where Ryder's Heavy Sprint attack would flip him up into the air.
- Fixed bug where Air Dive could get stuck in dive loop.
- Fixed bug where Air Dive would act irregular when hit by an enemy doing air dive.
- Fixed bug so Ryder's Stellar Conclusion can never get cancelled by enemy attacks (even speed razor).
- Fixed bug where Ryder's Stellar Conclusion would cause Ryder to go invisible temporarily.
- Fixed crash when a player applies damage after they are dead.
- Fixed Animation bug when resetting back to idle.
- Removed Bloom Setting and adjusted our effects settings to avoid Strobe Light visual bug.
- Player camera will no longer zoom.
- Fixed bug where clash inputs wouldn’t appear during clash.
- Fixed loading screen not properly showing background images.
- Fixed issue where Sprint input wouldn’t work if remapped.
- Fixed camera from being pushed in when hitting a wall.