In a conversation with Neill Blomkamp, it’s clear that video games have played a big role in his work.
“Do you play games,” he asks me. “When do you know Half Life 2? The suction gun in District 9 was actually inspired by the Gravity Gun in Half Life 2.”
U Off The Grid, the latest project from the South African – an ambitious battle royale – you could argue that elements of the game world were clearly influenced by his films. Set in 2067, the battle arena is Teardrop, a tropical island with various socio-economic zones around it.
It is home to three mega-corporations (Kardashev, Cascadia, Mriya), next to a powerful space elevator that has allowed humanity to access resources and materials that have advanced technology at the edge of human progress.
“There’s a sort of Elysium-esque class divide — the surrounding areas are more barren, and the affluent areas near the elevator are more profitable,” Blomkamp explains, saying in his new role as Chief Vision Officer of Gunzilla Games.
Each mega-corporation is fighting to use the best handlers, the best technology, the best weapons and the best operators to succeed in the mission and come out on top in the battle test.
They achieve this with Zeroes – mercenary guns with flexible morals who are equipped with high-tech cybernetic limbs and confront each other across the island.
Blomkamp was quick to point out that while his previous work, such as District 9, was heavily influenced by artist Chris Fosse, Off The Grid is an entirely new art style that leans toward “hyperrealism” thanks to the power of Unreal Engine 5.
As expected with any battle royale, Blomkamp confirmed that the game will support solo, duo and quad modes. “Warzone is an example of a battle royale that does everything right,” he says.
However, Ganzilla hopes to stand out in its narrative element — which aims to add a story arc to what has traditionally been an unstructured free-to-play experience — a move that Blomkamp called “very challenging.”
In addition to 150 players fighting each other in PvP skirmishes that will take place on the game map, players will also be able to complete story missions against AI opponents. Every decision you make directly affects everyone’s gameplay.
“What we’re doing has never been done before – the characters you meet in the world will play a central role in it,” he explains.
“When we asked ourselves what we would envision the perfect Battle Royale game to be, we came up with one
the three main pillars on which it rests,” he said in the Q&A.
“Stunning visuals are a new quality standard for AAA multiplayer shooters; strong narrative progression – a meaningful world that players won’t just return to in disjointed segments, but will get a sense of persistence and smooth progression; and ownership of all in-game assets.”
OTG combines all these components into a single IP. Each of them works separately from the other
excellent. But together they create what the Gunzilla team calls Battle Royale 2.0.
There is also a digital economy called GunZ that allows players to trade weapons and in-game items, which has had some controversy since its discovery at Gamescom.
Like most Battle Royale games, Off The Grid will feature vehicles.
“Yes, there will be cars in Off The Grid – I’ve actually yet to see one that’s some sort of tank,” Blomkamp tells us.
With Off The Grid, Gunzilla aims to bring back to players what they feel is missing from the battle royale genre – the freedom to choose how they want to be a part of the IP.
An ambitious gamble. But with Blomkamp at the helm, they have every chance to do so.
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