GB Feature: Tyranny Interview

We’ve been following Obsidian Entertainment’s Tyranny closely following its announcement earlier this year, and while a number of outstanding questions about the RPG have been answered in articles and developer diaries since then, there were a variety of answers we were still in search of. As a result, WUE and I fired off a set of questions to lead designer Brian Heins, and the result is a full four-page interview for you to read through over the weekend. A taste:

GB: In Pillars of Eternity, companions were optional and didn’t have a direct effect on most of the game’s questlines or its central plot. Can you give us an idea of the role that companions will play in Tyranny and how they’re integrated into the game? Can we expect them to chime in during a quest or a plot point, either to lend aid or perhaps even stand in our way?

Brian: Players will definitely want to bring Companions with them as they travel through Tyranny. Companions have skills the player may not possess, and all of their abilities are unique to them. They’re able to perform actions in combat that aren’t available to the player. In addition, we’ve added our Companion Combo abilities, combat abilities that allow the player and a Companion to work together in concert to perform powerful effects that can change how combat plays out.

When it comes to quests and conversations, there are definitely times when Companions will interject their opinions into the dialogue. Sometimes they’ll even offer to resolve a problem for you. How you handle these interjections will shape your Companion’s reputation, which will in turn unlock additional Companion Combo abilities.

Each of our Companions is a distinct personality, with their own strong opinions on what you decide to do. From my own playthroughs of the game I can say that bringing different Companions with you will definitely change your experience of quests and combat.

Ultimately, if a player wants to travel through Tyranny solo, they are able to do that. They’ll have a more complete experience of the game if they travel with a full party.

GB: Will Tyranny feature random encounters with enemies, or will most combat encounters be deliberately placed within the game? Random or not, will enemies be static in regard to their level/power or have you incorporated level scaling into the game?

Brian: Combat will occur with placed enemies, as with Pillars of Eternity. Some combats can be avoided or modified through dialogue options, but we don’t have any random encounter systems in place. We had ideas for systems along those lines during development, but ended up cutting them when we didn’t have the time to bring them to an acceptable level of polish.

There is level scaling in the game. Tyranny has a more open, branching structure than Pillars of Eternity did, which means that there are many different ways for players to travel through the world. The same area needs to support players arriving at level 5 or level 10, and provide them with interesting and engaging combat when they do so.

Enemies will scale within a level range, and their level becomes fixed when they are revealed by fog of war. So if you see an enemy and they are level 5, then leave the area, gain several levels and come back, they won’t suddenly increase in level. They’ll still be at level 5. On a different playthrough, if you went to that same area for the first time at level 8, the enemies would be a higher level.

The goal with this scaling is to keep combat interesting and not something you can just ignore on difficulty settings beyond Story mode. So far from our playtests its working out very well.

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