Eternal Crusade PvE Q&A with Nathan Richardsson

ZAM talks Tyrannids and other PvE content in the upcoming Warhammer 40K MMO.

Early Access gets closer and closer for the upcoming MMO Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade, yet when we look at their feature list there's still so much left to learn about. When Behaviour Interactive has talked about the game in general up to this point, they've focused on the game's PvP content. This makes sense - "In the grim dark future, there is only war" and all of that. The source material is a tabletop miniatures warfare game, so not focusing on the PvP content would be shocking to say the least. There's more to the world of Eternal Crusade than the battle between Orks, Space Marines, Chaos Marines and Eldar though. In our recent interview with Senior Producer Nathan Richardsson, they finally start to talk about Tyrannids and that up-till-now untouched portion of their game, PvE content.

ZAM: Can you tell us what kind of PvE content can we expect at launch? The FAQ on your site describes small, Horde Mode-style encounters, but could you go into more detail about what players can expect in these battles?

Nathan: At launch, we expect most of the content to be small-scale group co-op missions, horde mode, and other established co-op styles should be expected. Our challenge is that there are a lot of fun game modes out there that have matured over the years and the question becomes, how does that adapt and fit into our universe. These are instanced, but still tie into the larger universe, the campaigns and what happens to territories which you leave unguarded – or in other words – you don’t throw them out immediately. It’s likely that we will have larger scale encounters with Tyranids at launch, we have plans for a number of types we want to try and or goal would be to have one, for example a Tyranid invasion into an territory you hold which would be a larger PVE engagement. In the end, it’ll all be determined by playtesting with our Founders in the upcoming closed Alpha and Beta.

ZAM: Can we expect to see any additional PvE gameplay styles post-launch? Perhaps a base defense game mode, escort missions, etc.

Nathan: Absolutely, as with other massive online games, we continue to expand post-launch. We’ll have free expansion and an accompanying DLC about every 3 months after we launch, in addition to all the minor updates in between. Part of that will be new PVE game modes, new locations and new scales of battles.

ZAM: How much of the PvE content will be instanced? Will players have to take other player factions into consideration while doing PvE content?

Nathan: To begin with, a lot of it will be instanced as we’re focusing on co-op modes to begin with – which outcome then ties into the larger theater of war. Do you need to worry about other factions? No, not at this point. But it would be fun to try out, having one of the big Tyranids suddenly controlled by a random player out there.

ZAM: How vital will group composition be in PvE content? Will your squad need to have a balanced mix of loadouts (melee/ranged, healing capabilities, etc.)?

Nathan: I think that as a squad based game, this is something we must do. That being said, it’s always been a challenge in all games making every aspect of you, your class and your character progression, being as valid in both PVE and PVP. So we’re totally taking on that challenge, but our first and foremost goal in our venture into PVE is finding the fun, then we move from there. Some modes might rely heavily on classes, some require certain classes but also simply composition.

ZAM: The main PvE faction that's been talked about up to this point is the Tyranids. For those in our audience who aren't well-versed in WH40K lore, can you give us a rough description of who they are and what they're doing on Arkhona?

Nathan: I can’t tell you what they’re doing on Arkhona, that’s part of the mystery. Then again, they are pretty much everywhere where there are any other races to be eaten. If you want to think about parallels, you can take anything from the aliens in … well, Alien. But they also have this hive mind element to them, so Starship Troopers is also good comparison. Basically, they all want you no good.

ZAM: Currently the only PvE faction that's been described at this point is the Tyranids, but you also mention "another sort of Enemy"? Are you ready to tease who this enemy faction may be? Perhaps the Necrons or one of the myriad other WH40K factions not included as a playable option?

Nathan: Nope, not at all prepared to tease about that, even if that enemy arrives later or already exists. Except they are probably deadly, and out to get you. Like everybody else in the Warhammer 40,000 universe.

ZAM: Let's talk progression. Your FAQ talks about your factions rewarding you for this PvE content - what kind of rewards can players expect to receive for dealing with the Tyranid threat? How do these rewards compare to what's available to players focusing on PvP?

Nathan: We’re actually in the midst of revisiting rewards, loot, etc. but in general, battling Tyranids helps your factions and the territories they control, their abilities on the battlefield, the weapons the warlords have and even at time, what the war council can possibly deploy in support of territorial conquest. The rewards are also on a personal level, even though these warriors often care little about gaining personal trinkets, there is character progression as well as improving you arsenal and armory.

ZAM: For PvP balance you have a loadout system in place, where the more powerful an item is, the more "points" it takes to equip which leaves you with less to spend on everything else. Will this point balance system carry over to PvE content as well? Given that you're playing against the AI, removing that cap would give you more room for a separate progression path. Is that something you're considering at this time?

Nathan: That’s all down to balancing in playtesting and making it fun, but doing it to make a separate path is not very likely for us. Our character progression is horizontal and while some parts of that might be more beneficial for your playstyle in PVE, it’s not being done to create an entirely different path. Our goal, whether you are in PVE or PVP is that you contribute to the larger theater of war. That should also mean that the rest of the game should be tied well together and consistent with that goal.

ZAM: Do you have any plans to include PvE-only or PvP-only skills or equipment? How about exclusive skins or color schemes?

Nathan: I wouldn’t exclude at all recognition of your extraordinary “mad skillz” in PVE in some form, just as we do in PVP, but what that would be specifically remains to be seen.

ZAM: How about the Elite classes? Will they have a place in PvE or will you restrict them to PvP to make sure that faction gets the maximum benefit from the resource cost to summon the Elite?

Nathan: I’d personally love to see them but again, it comes down to playtesting and what’s fun. If it breaks the game or the scenario, we will have limitations. As an initial step we’re planning on having dedicated challenges with different levels of character restrictions.

We'd like to thank Nathan Richardsson for taking the time to talk with us about Eternal Crusade's PvE content. I know that for many players out there, they're going to focus on the PvP content still because it's Warhammer 40,000 — that means killing other people. Personally I love that they're including this for those folks like me who want to help the war effort for their faction, but tend to prefer fighting AI over other players. There's still plenty of detail we weren't able to get out of Nathan though, so you'll have to keep an eye out as we get closer to launch to find out more. If all of this WH40K talk got you itching to play the game, you can get your Founder's Packs over on the official site now.

Michael "Ragar" Branham


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