“Gunplay is going to be key” are the six words that every first-person shooter player longs to hear, and they’ve been uttered by no other than Nicolo Laurent, the CEO of Riot Games.
Despite being the dominant force in the MOBA market, Riot Games has set its sights on a new market with Project A, their upcoming FPS game. The project was formally revealed at the League10 event last week, and gave fans a small glimpse into the visuals and mechanics of the game. On the surface, it looks as though Project A will be the FPS/MOBA blend that had been hinted at in the past. Players will have access to special abilities depending on the character that they pick, similar, of course, to Blizzard’s Overwatch.
Speaking at the League10 event in London, Laurent assured hardcore FPS fans that Project A will remain true to the core elements of the genre. “Project A is a tactical shooter.” he says. “It’s very lethal, and it’s very tactical. You’re going to have very limited windows to use your abilities”
Of course, a focus on gunplay rather than abilities will also work to separate the game from the extremely popular titles in the space already. Both Overwatch and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive command large playerbases and thriving professional esports scenes. If Riot wants to forge a path into the genre, it certainly has its work cut out.
We can't have Pantheon leaping from the sky and causing havoc because the focus needs to be on gunplay.
Early reactions surrounding the game have been positive, with most expressing a desire to get their hands on the game and give it a go themselves. Riot Games was savvy with its approach – bringing in a number of experienced FPS players to test out the game throughout its development.
But this game is markedly different from the rest of Riot’s gaming arsenal. It doesn’t exist in the world of Runeterra, and is noticeably separated from League of Legends. That’s because the developer wants to give Project A it’s own identity.
“We understood that forcing League of Legends champions into the shooter game wouldn’t make a lot of sense” Laurent explains. “It’s a tactical shooter, so everyone has to have the same hitbox and the same weapons.”
Comparing Teemo and Malphite, Laurent notes that having both of those characters in the game would compromise the integrity of the gameplay, as their size and hitboxes would be significantly different. It also confirms suspicions that Riot Games wishes to distance itself from the Overwatch comparison. Blizzard has, after all, been accused of ‘manufacturing’ an esports scene for the game, and that its shooting mechanics lack precision.
Riot, on the other hand, is apparently looking to learn from those mistakes. “We can’t have Pantheon leaping from the sky and causing havoc, because the focus needs to be on the gunplay.” Laurent says. “In the end, it made more sense for us to create a brand new IP instead.”
From the brief glimpses we’ve seen of the game, the gameplay looks a lot cleaner than Overwatch, and is even slightly reminiscent of Counter-Strike 1.6…on steroids. Regardless of the mechanics used in the game, Riot is clearly focused on ensuring a positive competitive experience for all, even if one eye is carefully watching for the potential of an esports scene.
With Riot leadership telling staff to take “all the time we need” on developing games, and no clear cut release date for Project A, it looks like it’ll be a while before we can hit headshots and throw shurikens. Either way, from the glimpses we’ve seen, Project A could certainly become the League of Legends of the FPS genre.