SHRAPNEL Gameplay & Lore #1: Welcome to the Sacrifice Zone
How SHRAPNEL’s unique world will shape the experience of every match.
Welcome to the Sacrifice Zone. The weather is warm with a slight chance of deadly meteor showers.
SHRAPNEL’s whitepaper is now live, revealing the Zone you’ll be raiding in-game and the catastrophic event which created it. To help expand upon this first look, we sat down with Creative Director Clint Bundrick to discuss meteors, murky morals, and mystery in SHRAPNEL.
Why did you choose a near-future setting? How grounded do you want the world of SHRAPNEL to feel versus delving into fantasy sci-fi tech?
CB: That actually gets to the heart of one of our pillars, what we call the 70/30 rule: 70% recognizable, grounded-tech kind of MilSim, but 30% future tech. We want to have lots of avenues for player expression, lots of big surprise moments in gameplay. We want players to really care about gear, their loadout, and their playstyle. And we want a tonne of mastery in how players choose to play.
Now, we have this crazy story, right? An asteroid collides with the moon. It creates these meteorites that scorch a giant band of the Earth. That whole area becomes uninhabitable.
It is still constantly getting barrages of meteorites over time. Some areas get hit, some areas don’t. Some are left pristine and beautiful, others are looking almost post-apocalyptic as the world gets chunked up and destroyed, and some areas of it are being reclaimed by nature.
There’s a lot of texture there where we have a ton of variety and spaces that the player is going to go into. Lots of opportunities for mystery — that’s a big part for me. I want players to feel like they are venturing into the unknown every time.
How much research went into the idea of a lunar impact and how it would affect the planet?
CB: We’ve had some different conversations about what would actually happen, both at the physical and socio-economic level. What would happen if there was a meteorite that hit the Earth and it turned out that it had incredibly valuable resources attached to it? If it crossed country lines, how would corporations and governments respond? That’s certainly something we’re going to continue to explore as part of the story.
Mark Long, our CEO, spoke with Neil Stephenson about some of this stuff. It’s a really interesting resource for us in that regard. For me, a lot of it now has been starting to do almost a mental exercise of what would it look like if this became normalized.
After the impact, the area has been walled off. Folks have been going into the Zone to mine it and pull stuff out. You essentially have a land where there are no rules — where people are allowed to murder each other in order to capture resources — and a day care separated only by a wall. And society is like, we’re comfortable with that.
I looked at some of the more dangerous jobs that exist in the world — coal mining, working on oil rigs, Alaskan crab fishing. There are so many of these extremely dangerous jobs. But as a society, we accept them because we need them. These are things that our society needs in order to operate.
One of the themes that we want to play with over time is, yeah, this is an extreme version of that. The world knows we need the resources coming out of the Zone. It’s curing diseases, it’s enabling all kinds of new technologies. And so we’re very quick to turn a blind eye to what might be happening within the Zone.
So what are the kinds of people that would go into the Zone? You might have fully trained, armed-to-the-teeth, professional mercenaries; you might have tourists who are just dipping their toe in, they just want to get inside the walls and say they’ve seen it; you have other people who are kind of adrenaline and thrill seekers, who just want to go and explore and take that risk. There’s just a lot of a lot of texture when I think about what can happen with the Zone.
Are there plans to evolve SHRAPNEL’s story over time? How far ahead are you thinking?
CB: At the heart of it, there are two elements of SHRAPNEL. At the emotional core it’s like a high-stakes treasure-hunting game. You’re venturing into the Zone, you’ve built your loadout, you don’t know exactly what you’re going to encounter. Your goal is to find the treasure and get it out. And that means that you want some of those moments where you find the jackpot, you find this incredibly valuable thing. Stress goes up, the stakes go up. Now you really want to make sure you can get out.
Another part is just a sense of discovery. You and I are going into the Zone as a team, we entered a new map we’ve never seen or we’ve entered a map we’ve played 10–15 times and we suddenly find that there’s a new section to it. And we’re pulling out pieces of the world’s lore, we’re discovering new things that the community hasn’t found yet that are starting to point to an ongoing story.
There are some interesting examples across the industry. Call of Duty Zombies is a really fascinating version of this, where the story is kind of told through the discoveries of the community. That’s where I’m really interested in exploring. How do we make it feel like [the story] is a thing that the community owns and that the community is discovering as we go? That is high on my list.
At its core, it’s a competitive multiplayer game. But I think that we can add a lot of world discovery to it. That, again, gives players a whole new reason to go into the Zone, right?
You’re gonna uncover that next piece of lore. You’re trying to be the first one to discover that new map or that new secret which helps you better understand what’s going on in the world of SHRAPNEL so you can share it with the community. I think there are lots of opportunities to explore there that I am looking forward to getting to.
Looking for more? Read our second Gameplay & Lore blog post, Every Match a Story, here.
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