Two days ago, Resogun developer Housemarque released its first proper trailer for Stormdivers.
The reaction was mixed. At the time of writing, the official upload on YouTube has 290 thumbs-up and 321 thumbs-down ratings. "I'm going to miss absolutely amazing arcade titles from you guys," one user wrote. "Might as well wait for the inevitable closure announcement," another user remarked underneath.
The video in question shows a dystopian brawl between various super-soldiers with lethal weapons and fantastical abilities. It resembles a battle royale title and, more importantly, looks nothing like the arcade titles the studio is known for, such as Super Stardust HD, Alienation and Matterfall. For many, it was a shock. The Finnish studio, though, tried to telegraph the shift in a blog post last year, dramatically titled 'Arcade is Dead.' In a frank "letter to the fans," the team explained that some of its recent games, including Nex Machina, had sold poorly, despite glowing reviews.
To survive, it needed to make something different.
At Gamescom 2018, Mikael Haveri, Housemarque's head of publishing, unpacked the trailer and the reasons why the company had decided to venture into the hyper-competitive world of battle royale titles.
First of all, he said, Stormdivers will be more than a battle royale game. It will, admittedly, launch with a 'last man standing' mode that's broadly similar to Fortnite and PUBG. Over time, though, more modes will be added, expanding its scope and further differentiating from the already popular and rapidly evolving competition. Secondly, Haveri said, the team started working on prototypes in February 2015, long before the genre's meteoric rise in popularity. "We started with a high-level concept that was pitched internally as Smash Bros. meets The Hunger Games," he explained.
The combat will be appropriately complex, too. Players will pick from three different classes, all of which offer unique movement abilities. These include jetpacks, teleportation and a special camouflage that also lets you float up walls. Every fighter will also be equipped with a glider that works in a similar fashion to Iron Man's high-tech boosters. All of these options should give the game a sense of verticality. It's something that Housemarque has wanted to explore for a while, and is one of many reasons why the game doesn't have a top-down perspective like Nex Machina.