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Iron Galaxy Studios unveiled a free-to-play brawler royale game called Rumbleverse at The Game Awards.
Epic Games will serve as the publisher and take the title to the PC, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, and Xbox One in 2022.
Adam Boyes, co-CEO of Chicago-based Iron Galaxy, and lead designer Adam Hart showed me a demo of the game and said up to 40 people will be able to drop in and start causing mayhem in a city arena that looks like a battle royale environment.
“This imagined universe is a place where combat is king. Every citizen of this city is a fighter who lives and breathes to be a champion,” said Boyes. “Periodically, they join on the Battle Barge, which is just off the coast of the island where this game takes place. And we launched the 40 of them out of this cannon at the city that you can see there in the distance. And then they will battle to the last either as a solo player or as the member of a team for the honor and glory of being a champion among their peers.”
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Players will get launched from a cannon and drop into Grapital City, where there’s chaos around every corner and on top of the tallest skyscrapers. Rumbleverse will have players leaping from rooftop to rooftop and smashing open crates looking for weapons, upgrades, new moves, and perks.
If you win the game, you get to be the mayor, as the mayor is not elected. The seat is decided by a contest of combat power. I watched as the cannon shot the combatants toward one part of the city, which was full of skyscrapers. You could land on a skyscraper and collect loot, but others would likely be there too. So you have to arm yourself and try to knock the other player off the building.
You can break a player’s stamina and force them to abandon the fight to go heal. But if you can corner a player, then you can go in for the kill. If you find chicken, you can eat it and heal. As happens in other battle royales, the ring for the arena gets smaller and smaller, and you have to be careful not to get stuck in the gas that will kill you.
Rumbleverse also features extensive brawler customization, allowing players to mix and match hundreds of unique items so they can stand out from the crowd.
“This journey began for us with an idea to create an experience that was social, competitive, and chaotic,” said Boyes. “We wanted to build a big, hilarious playground where spectacular things are always happening. Rumbleverse combines our love for melee combat with the teamwork and player expression that have made games such a crucial source of human interaction.”
Additionally, Iron Galaxy will be hosting a Rumbleverse “First Look” gameplay event on PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X/S on December 10. This limited-time event will be open to a select number of lucky players who will be among the first drop into Grapital City.
Interested players can head over to this site to sign up. Early access to Rumbleverse begins on February 8 on PC via the Epic Games Store, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, and Xbox One consoles. The game will fully support crossplay and cross-progression, making it easy to team up or battle it out with your friends no matter where you choose to play.
Three years of work
Boyes said the pitch for the game started in October 2017, and then the game took a year to take share and then get signed with the publisher. Development has taken about three years.
“We wanted to definitely make it so any type of player could pick it up, try it out, and hopefully enjoy it,” Boyes said. “There is a heart-palpitating moment you get when you see another character, and so the idea is having a bunch of options at that point, where you can engage or run away.”
The target audience is broader, and that’s why the art style is more cartoon-like.
“One of the questions was why hasn’t anyone ever really tried to solve melee at scale,” Boyes said. “It needed to feel kinetic, it needed to feel really great on the controller because that’s quintessential Iron Galaxy. We wanted a game that is awesome to play and fun to watch, even if people are bad at it.”
The absence of guns meant that you didn’t need a huge map with long draw distances.
During development, Iron Galaxy ramped up its team and it is now 230 people in Chicago and Orlando, Florida. The Rumbleverse team peaked at around 80 people. Much of Iron Galaxy’s business is work-for-hire, but it occasionally develops its own games like Divekick and Extinction.
The game has a fair amount of silliness.
“We drew a lot of inspiration from animated shows,” Boyes said. “Whether it was Into the Spider-Verse or the work of Pixar. We’re excited for people to get their hands on it.”