Forward-looking: As PUBG Corp. and Epic continue with their on-again/off-again copyright squabble, while dozens of other games copy the battle-royale style, developer Automaton Games is prepping an ambitious launch that takes the BR genre to a whole new level.
Automaton’s upcoming battle-royale shooter Mavericks: Proving Grounds looks to up the headcount per match by a factor of 10. While PUBG and Fortnite matches max out at 100 players, Mavericks will have up to 1,000 players on the battlefield at a time — at least that is what the devs are going to attempt. The map will be much larger too, measuring 16km by 16km.
The size of the map and the number of players are not the only things that make the project ambitious. Automaton plans on incorporating a lot of elements that will change the way veteran BR players play the game. Buildings are destructible. Fire is realistic and can spread. Players leave footprints, shell casings, magazines, and empty health kits in their path that can be tracked by other players. There is wildlife that roams around and can be spooked to cause a distraction or reveal the location of a stealthy enemy. It will even have a day-night cycle that will force players to adapt to different lighting conditions.
All this sounds good on paper, but it seems like an awful lot to execute, especially when you factor in the varying capabilities of all the different gaming rigs people use. It is for this reason that Automaton will first test the waters in a beta with matches limited to 200-400 players. Eventually, they will incorporate 1,000 players with five-man teams.
Like PUBG and Fortnite, Mavericks will have a staging area where players can upgrade weapons and customize their avatars. However, unlike its competition, this area will be much more expansive. It will be a town called The Capital described as a “persistent open world” with banks, shops, auction houses, and NPCs that can give players quests. However, Automaton has not given any specifics about what these quests entail.
According to Engadget, “Automaton is banking on SpatialOS to make Mavericks work. The much-hyped platform, built by a secretive London-based startup called Improbable, allows developers to create large, persistent worlds that many people can inhabit simultaneously.”
SpatialOS is not an engine but is more of a buffer. It sits between the game engine and several servers to help with match tracking and coordinating what needs to be rendered for each player at any given time.
“That's not been done effectively by any game before,” said Automaton CEO James Thompson.
It is indeed a formidable undertaking, but one that could change the battle-royale gaming landscape and beyond.
Maverick’s: Proving Grounds closed beta is slated for August 18, 2018. Team play with 1,000 players will follow before the end of the year. The Capital hub will be added to the game sometime in 2019.
"Visitors are welcome but possessing citizenship will unlock and enable a variety of content within the game."
While players will be able to play for free, Automaton will offer subscriptions (Citizenship) that offer more perks. A subscription will run you $60 per year.
If you are interested in getting in on the beta, Automaton has a signup page on the Mavericks website. The beta is free, but becoming a "Founder" for a $29.99 fee will guarantee a position in the beta, plus give you your first year when the game launches in full (there are other goodies too).