Nexon's Free-to-Play Online Shooter Combat Arms Explored
The realm of online first-person shooters isn't exactly sparsely populated. Since last fall we've been given Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, Team Fortress 2, Unreal Tournament 3 and Call of Duty 4, to name a few, all of which featured excellent online competitive modes.
Compared to that, this year has been relatively light for first-person shooter releases, something Nexon is hoping to address by bringing their free-to-play, pay-per-item online shooter, Combat Arms, to North America.
To get a better idea of what the game is and how it works, we had a chance to send a few questions to Herb Yang, product manager on the planning and design team. These questions were submitted and answered via email. Our screenshot and video galleries have been updated as well.
IGN: Who is developing the game? What projects have they worked on before?
Herb Yang: The developer is called Doobic Studios, and is based in Korea. Their previous project was a FPS online game called Heat Project which was released in Asia.
IGN: What are some of the main ideas behind this game's design? What type of
experience are you hoping to offer players?
Herb Yang: Combat Arms is geared to provide a flexible online FPS action experience. At its heart, Combat Arms is a fast-paced, multiplayer shooter, designed for non-stop action (no waiting around for matches to start). The developers wanted to create an action-shooter with a high level of graphic quality, that was realistic looking and not cartoony, but with low spec requirements. Plus, it's free to play, so it's got a low barrier to entry from both the tech and the financial perspective, which is great for people who are new to the genre. The FPS genre has a notoriously steep learning curve so we wanted a product that appeals to people who are interested in high-fidelity military shooters, but don't want to spend $60 to have their heads repeatedly blown off before they become accustomed to the controls.
With that said, there's a lot of depth for those who want to make a heavier investment within the game. The game features a character customization system, and a weapon modification system, so players can pick whatever guns and gear they like the best for their character. You'll be able to carry multiple weapons, wear different camouflages and armor, and cosmetic items such as sunglasses and helmets. Players aren't tied to weapons based on any class-based system. You can have an SMG and a sniper rifle if you want, or you can go in with a machine gun and rocket launcher. If you want to carry three types of grenades instead of a second rifle, you can do that too. Additionally, your guns can be further modified with attachments such as silencers, scopes, extended magazines, etc.
After each match, players will earn experience and in-game money, which will allow them to rank up, get access to and buy new weapons and gear. Players will have persistent characters, so you'll be able to check out your cool-looking character and your stats online (in the game and at combatarms.nexon.net), and see how you're doing versus your friends. Combat Arms will also have a fully featured clan system where you can manage matches and member applications, and post notices to your clan members, saving you the hassle of having to do that offline. It'll also be very easy to find other clans to fight with, and manage and recruit for your clan within the game and on our website.
Plus, as an online game, we'll be adding new weapons, new gear and clothing items, new maps, new weapon mods on an ongoing, monthly basis. Combat Arms is a dynamic game so we'll also be listening to what our player base wants, and adjusting our content accordingly.
IGN: A few of the video clips that are floating around seem to indicate there's some sort of story in the game. Is there a single-player mode as well as a multiplayer mode? If so, what's the story in single-player?
Herb Yang: Combat Arms is a multiplayer game so there's no single-player mode; it's all about fighting against and with your fellow players on the internet. The fiction of the game puts the player in the role of a soldier of fortune, fighting in different theatres and settings around the globe.
IGN: How does multiplayer work? What kind of modes are there and what are the
conditions for victory?
Herb Yang: The game will launch with three game modes: Elimination (Team Deathmatch), One Man Army (Free for All), and Search & Destroy. Team Deathmatch is familiar to anyone who's played an FPS game: Players are split into two teams, and each team tries to get the most kills. The first team to a preset kill count wins the match. The One Man Army mode pits every player against every other player (individual deathmatch). Search & Destroy is also team-based, where one team has to plant a bomb, while the other has to prevent the bomb from being planted and set off. More game modes will be announced after the game launches.
IGN: Are there vehicles in the game? If so, what kind?
Herb Yang: CA is centered on infantry combat so there will not be vehicles.
IGN: How many players can play in a server at once?
Herb Yang: The games are set up for 16 players, 8-vs-8, and smaller games can also be set up as well.
IGN: How many maps will there be? How large will they be?
Herb Yang: The game will launch with six maps and new maps will be constantly added. Players will fight in all types of terrain, from desert fortresses, to industrial complexes, to jungles. Most of the maps are quite large, with multiple paths through each map.
IGN: What sorts of weapons can you use?
Herb Yang: Pretty much most types of modern weapons you can think of - shotguns, pistols, assault rifles, sniper rifles, SMGs, etc. Like all game content types, we'll be adding more each month. The game will launch with over 30 guns, as well as a bunch of other secondary items such as grenades, mines, rockets, backpacks.
In addition, weapons will be modifiable. We plan to have a wide variety of weapon attachments that you'll be able to use on all your guns -- silencers, scopes, extended magazines, etc. - so even if you and your friend both use the same M16 or AK, they can be tweaked for your own personal preferences.
IGN: Are there player classes in the game? If so, what are they? If not, how
do you determine which weapons can be used by players?
Herb Yang: There are no player classes - you're limited in the number of items you can carry, but what you carry and how you equip your character is completely up to you. When you amass enough in-game money, you'll also be able to upgrade your backpack to give you more slots to carry additional items.
IGN: Can you talk a little more about the online persistence?
Herb Yang: There's definitely a persistent player profile you'll be building up as you play, rank up, and unlock new items. From the Combat Arms website, a player profile page will automatically be created with each account, which will allow players to track their performance and that of their friends. Players will earn experience and in-game money with each match, with which to buy their gear. New ranks will unlock the availability of new weapons and equipment, as well as rare items. Players will also be able to collect achievements for special performances within the game.
IGN: Can you bring things other than guns into battle (grenades, claymores,
C4, etc)? If so, what can you choose from?
Herb Yang: Combat Arms will have a variety of secondary weapons that you'll be able to bring into battle in addition to your guns. I can say for certainty that we will have: frag grenades, smoke grenades, incendiary grenades, gas grenades, rocket launchers, melee weapons, flash bangs, and claymore mines with more coming each month.
IGN: What are the system specifications?
Herb Yang: Combat Arms is playable on the PC and will require:
• Windows 2000 or XP
• Pentium 3, 1 GHz
• 256Mb RAM
• GeForce 2 MX or equivalent video card
• DirectX 9.0C
• 2Gb Hard Disk Space
• 128 kb/s Internet Connection
IGN: Has this game released in any other territories yet? When is it coming
out in North America? Will it be available in stores or as a download
Herb Yang: Combat Arms was also recently released in Korea just a few months ago, and will be officially launching here in the US in Summer 2008. We'll be holding a week long Closed Beta beginning Friday, May 30, for players to get a first glimpse at it. Once the game officially launches, the game will be available as a download from our website (which launches tomorrow) at combatarms.nexon.net. Again, it's free so you don't need to buy it from the store, or from our website.
IGN: How do players pay for the experience? Is there a one-time fee for the
game, is it free-to-play and pay-per-item, or is it something else?
Herb Yang: Combat Arms is free to play and pay-per-item. Items you pay for with real money will primarily be cosmetic or convenience items. Don't worry, nothing that affects game play balance will be purchasable with real money. You can play the game for as long as you want and not pay a single cent if you don't want to.
Video courstesy of IGN HERE!
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