Hi all! We’re very excited as Returnal’s April 30 launch approaches, and wanted to share a few more details about Selene’s journey. This time we wanted to talk about some of the hostile forces she will encounter on Atropos.
The planet of Atropos is a dark and mysterious place, and each environment will provide its own unique set of enemies to defeat: from organic and parasitic creatures inhabiting overgrown ruins, to cosmic or corrupt entities roaming the waste sands. crimson, and the mechanical automatons that patrol endlessly the haunting Abandoned Citadel… Players will encounter a wide variety of different enemies, which besides their unique aesthetics will also provide their own unique game flavor and special attacks.
When creating Returnal’s organic enemies, one of the biggest inspiration for me was looking at the bioluminescent creatures of the deep sea. In many ways, they felt like the most alien life forms one can find here on Earth. There is something inherently disturbing and alien about the deep sea as an environment for us. The way these creatures move deep underwater, with their long tentacles and bioluminescent reflections, can often appear majestic, beautiful, and downright terrifying. It is also not uncommon for these creatures to use their luminous beauty to seduce or distract their prey (for example, with a dazzling display of bioluminescence), and suddenly strike when their prey least expects it. This combination of chaotic beauty and nightmarish aggression was something we wanted to capture along with the aesthetic of our organic creatures.
For this purpose, we ended up creating our own special VFX-driven tentacle technology and used it very liberally. These fully dynamic elements bring that chaotic beauty to the enemies we’ve been looking for and have also created some very satisfying feedback for players.
For example, the bioluminescent emissives on the tentacles are strongly emphasized to telegraph oncoming attacks and provide satisfactory strike reactions when enemies are downed (or when an enemy is killed, where they explode in a glorious explosion. tentacles cut). Strong emissive highlights also connect with our Bullet Hell attacks, where our projectiles naturally inherit this vibrant “energy signature” from our enemies, to create a cohesive aesthetic that also reinforces our play intent.
For our creation process, we wanted to make sure our enemies looked otherworldly and unique, but we also wanted them to provide great gameplay of course. In a few cases our enemy ideas would start from a particular aesthetic or s tory we were trying to tell – for example, our Mycomorph (pictured above) was the idea of a parasitic organism that fades on corpses of Selene, so you would see her fractured skull. and rib cage in the midst of the parasitic tree growth of the enemy up close. But generally, we took a very gameplay-oriented approach when creating our enemies in Returnal: we would design various key roles and archetypes that we wanted to fulfill for each biome, and start to prototype them not just on their own, but also in different combinations. with each other.
While many of our encounters will provide projectile challenge from afar, some enemies can provide close range attacks that also require precise avoidance timing. An example is the aggressive Titanops which you can see in the video. This large, bipedal creature has one arm made entirely of tentacles, while the other is an extruded cleaver-shaped bone that it uses to deliver devastating blows. Titanops take a lot of damage to defeat and will chase you relentlessly, often closing the gap on you by jumping great distances directly into melee range.
But most other creatures prefer to keep combat at bay. For example, in overgrown ruins, the Mycomorph places a strong emphasis on firing aggressive homing projectiles from afar. It will often teleport to new locations to find better vantage points, and will also launch a grenade-type attack that frees a cluster of vines, preventing the player from moving nearby.
In the Crimson Wastes, the Gorgolith is a crab-like creature with a penchant for ambushes. This predator is capable of firing a barrage of fast projectiles, a direct laser from its tail, and an expanding shock wave explosion, but can also surprise you with a tentacle-type melee attack if you get close. Protected by a hard shell, its only weak point is the head, so you’ll need to balance good defensive maneuvers with a consistent attack, for example using our focus lens, which highlights enemy weak spots and also increases the precision.
Ultimately, most of our encounters will be based primarily on highlighting our projectile and Bullet Hell gameplay, and our bosses in particular will provide a huge array of challenging models to show off. For example, while hovering in the skies of the Crimson Wastes, Ixion has a wide variety of different layered attacks to dodge, ranging from models that populate the playing field with hundreds of slow bullets to sneak neatly, to speed attacks. fast paced that provide more responsive dashboard-focused gameplay, expanding shockwaves that compartmentalize space and demand your continued attention, majestic blasts of countless homing missiles with long trails that bring extra intensity to our fight.
While many of these fights prove to be very intense on their own, it’s really when combined that they showcase Returnal’s unique gameplay. While each enemy has their own distinct personality and their own uniquely identifiable attack patterns, we’ve also tried to find the best synergies and associations between enemies to make sure they work together gracefully. We want to make sure that our combat scenarios feel constantly stimulating and deeply rewarding, but also to avoid falling into injustice or the incomprehensible.
On that note, your spatial awareness will be put to the test in Returnal. You’ll need to keep moving and make full use of Selene’s movement set to prevail, while remaining fully alert to the myriad threats coming from all directions. Our level layouts have a lot of verticality, so you will have to constantly scour the environment to avoid the onslaught of projectile attacks and try to reach better vantage points to send the enemies. The effective use of Dash will be essential, as it can be used freely as a navigation tool, but also to rush through our projectile attacks without taking damage, and also to avoid last minute melee attacks with good timing. ‘a split second. We’ve covered our wide array of weapons and upgrades that Selene can find in a previous article, and players will need to use all the tools and navigation options they have to survive on Atropos.
This is just a small rundown of some of the different encounters and battle scenarios you’ll find in Returnal. We are very happy and proud that PS5 users are discovering Returnal very soon on April 30.