New in Arkbreaker, players can delve into the depths of major arkfalls and do battle with our new boss: the Volge Warmaster. He’s big. He’s mean. He’s here to ruin your life. Even beyond the lore of the Defiance universe, he’s got a long and storied history.
In 2011, we hosted a behind-closed-doors demo of a mission called “The Tar Pit.” Players met the 99ers and helped “Rosa the Riveter” reactivate the defenses of her machine shop (old photos of this demo can be found online in the deep, dark recesses of the internet). At the end of this demo, we showed off our first arkfall and teased a battle with a giant enemy called “The Volge Colonizer.”
A lot has changed since then. Rosa is no longer a cartoonish Norman Rockwell character, the Vulge enemies were renamed to Volge, and we cut the whole plotline that made Rosa and Eren responsible for creating the 99ers. But the Colonizer – an asset just dying to be a featured boss – survived.
Over time, the Volge developed into rampaging battle machines, and we renamed our mega-boss “The Warmaster.” We wanted to ship him with the launch of the game, or to add him to the Castithan Charge Pack, but we’d yet to create a fight to fit the epic greatness of this crystal-covered murderous space-gorilla.
The Warmaster sat on the backburner for a while as there were features we wanted to add before developing his large-scale battle. Most of these features had to do with targeting. Keen-eyed observers of the Hellion, Elite Volge Bombers, and even the Monolith will have noticed that they only attack one target at a time. They can swap targets rapidly, but any single ability can only target a single player.
This technical tunnel vision presents problems when trying to bombard a large group of players with a single attack. We handled it with the Hellbug Matron by having it fire multiple projectiles at an area, but it’s never truly aware of player positions. Like most NPCs, it would pick a hated enemy and then choose an appropriate attack based on the relationship between attacker and target.
The Warmaster, unlike previous enemies, can track multiple targets at once and use a single ability to target some or all of them. This is how it uses its shard rain ability to threaten an entire arkfall interior at once. Additionally, it has a beam breath attack – the first of its kind in the game – which can sweep the entire room (or be avoided by jumping over it!). Since all of these attacks are highly telegraphed, we challenge our ark hunters to choose between movement, which will make it harder to deal damage, and taking a large amount of damage which may incapacitate them.
The Warmaster has a secondary goal: he needs to be powerful enough that players cannot consistently defeat him. One of the big reasons for relaunching our alpha test servers was to find out how easily players could kill him (as much as we try to simulate real progression, we can only know the actual combat effectiveness of our players by letting them loose on the content!).
When we sent the Warmaster to alpha, we knew we releasing an underpowered version – but we wondered by how much? We adjusted his health and damage once in alpha, and, by the time this is posted, we’ll have done so again. He’s not intended to be a sure kill, even in an Arkbreak filled to the brim with ark hunters. That’s part of why his rewards, even if you fail, are still quite good. Fighting him is always going to be worth the time, but beating him is REALLY worth your investment.
The odd thing about our push for the Warmaster to be the most challenging enemy in Defiance is that it’s made his fight our first game event with a hard-fail condition. And the most exciting thing about making such a daunting new enemy is that the systems that went into creating him open up worlds of possibilities for new content.
On that note, my fellow ark hunters, now is the time to show the Volge that we won’t roll over and die so easy. It’s time to face the Warmaster!
– Trick Dempsey