New Avalanche game Generation Zero does giant deathbots in 80s Sweden

generation-zero-trailer

A third Short Circuit film was never made, but I think we all know what course it would have taken: feeling betrayed by the discovery that his best friend had inexplicably pretended to be Indian to him for years, self-aware military robot Johnny 5 decreed humanity to be a cruel and deceitful species, and raised an army of fellow machines designed to eradicate them. That’s my headcanon explanation for why Avalanche Studios’ new open world game Generation Zero features bandanna and mohawk-wearing humans versus hordes of cute-but-murderous robots, anyway.

Yup, fresh off the back of their sale to a Scandinavian movie company, the Just Cause, Rage 2 & Mad Max devs have announced their new thing, and it’s all about “playing war in the serene forests of 1980’s Sweden.” Sure, sure, we’re drowning in faux-80s stuff right now, but watch this and tell me it doesn’t look like a good time.

Generation Zero is open world, and as well as solo play has full co-op multiplayer (for up to four players), so unlike the Just Causes, we don’t need no mods for this one. It’s described as “tactical”, and features equipment-scavenging and trap-setting as part of a roaming fight against these woodland deathbots. But the ear-pricking bit for me is hearing that we get stuff like a day/night cycle, random weather and – ooh – wounded enemies will retain any damage you dealt to them before they got away, so the next time you run into them, they’ll still be missing that arm, weapon or sensor or whatever.

My brain keeps thinking about ‘STALKER’ and it probably shouldn’t, as this is obviously an awful lot more manic, but… my brain keeps thinking about STALKER. Persistence in a weird and spooky, countryside+weird science place: I am down with that.

generation-zero

If they make it work, of course. The 80s stuff particularly is a fine line these days – dark synths, red bandannas, boomboxes and baseball jackets abound right now. Still, the foresty Scandi setting is a new twist, and game director Emil Kraftling reckons it’s a labour of true love, as opposed to Stranger Things cynicism: “It’s an ominous recreation of our childhood fantasies, playing war in the serene forests of 1980’s Sweden. We can’t wait to bring the game’s tense open-world exploration and adrenaline pumping tactical action to players everywhere.”

Self-published by Avalanche (or, at least, their new owners Nordisk Film), Generation Zero is due for release on PC and console in 2019, there’ll be more it on show at E3, and here’s a website with more bits and pieces for you.

26 Comments

  1. Love Albatross says:

    Interesting. Getting a bit of a Simon Stålenhag vibe off this.

    • Jokerme says:

      Exactly what I thought as soon as I saw the headline.

      I always thought Simon’s artwork sets up an incredible open world game in the lines of STALKER. This game does seem close to that fantasy of mine but the coop first person shooter thing they are setting up alongside the 80s electronic music and punk kids vibe is exact opposite of what I’d want.

      Just look at those images and tell me if an open world slow burn horror game that you discover stories every little settlement you come across while trying to survive giant robot invasion version of the 1984. It gives me the chills.

    • Paj says:

      Yes, me too! I’ve always wanted to see his work in a game. Seems like his work is a clear inspiration for the look.

    • Anti-Skub says:

      I’m tempering my excitement. It looks kinda neat, but the trailer does that thing where it shows actual gameplay a few times but cuts away from it after half a second.

      I’ve seen that done plenty of times before…usually it’s because the game is fucking janky and they knew people would notice if they showed longer segments. Take a look at the gunplay at about the 52 second mark. It looks really, REALLY bad. The animation and pathing on the little bots looks like it might be getting cut away from to mask the animation cycles looking a bit floaty as well.

      Another red flag for me, is that the trailer ends with one of those BWAAAAH! moments where the last shot shows off something spectacular. Like in the Mass Effect 3 trailer it was the worm coming out of the ground and smacking into the Reaper. It made you go “Woah…holy shit that’s cool”. While the robot standing in the road that’s going for the same effect leaves me thinking “Is that the most impressive thing they’ve got to show off? A bigger enemy standing there doing nothing?”

      Red flag number 3. The music. It’s cool. But my god it’s such a rip off of the Terminator 2 theme music. It’s borderline plagiarism…not a great sign.

      I get that it’s an announcement trailer. I’m just not going to put my eggs in that basket. Too suspicious.

      • ninja117 says:

        As far as I can tell this game is literally using The Hunter: Call of the Wild as its base. Same scope on rifle, same textures, same lighting engine, etc etc. So if your looking for gameplay thats where it starts.

  2. cekman says:

    Generation: Zero Dawn.

  3. LokiEliot says:

    i LOVE Simon Stålenhag’s art. If they are gonna rip off his work i hope the game is more than just shooting robots while wearing 80s clothes and listening to synth wave. Stålenhag’s work had a great sense of forgotten mystery before Stranger things came along.

  4. kemo says:

    Pretty cool concept. Just hope they do a good job with gunplay, JC3’s was dreadful

  5. EwokThisWay says:

    Basically Left4Dead with robots.

    You can clearly tell that their focus is the coop, they just threw in a solo mode for the sake of it.

  6. dozurdogbite says:

    sweet!
    I like L4D2

  7. muki0 says:

    I have two of Simon’s artbooks, they immediately came to mind viewing this!

    It’s a shame to say, but the gameplay present in this trailer looks extremely sub-par. “shoot gun bullets into robot while walking towards each-other” is not my idea of fun. Hope there’s something more (much more), because the world itself seems fascinating.

  8. Eleriel says:

    the first fifteen seconds of that trailer is almost offensively swedish. it warms my heart.

    One point: where did they get the guns? Are they former members of Militärligan, or the children of such?

  9. DailyFrankPeter says:

    Anyone also picking up Terminator vibes from the music in the trailer?

  10. Darth Gangrel says:

    Emil Kraftling works for Swedish PC Gamer and, just like some of RPS’s former staff, has gone from writing about games to making them.

  11. ComManDerNomad says:

    So, the art of Simon Stålenhag: the game?

  12. VisibleMachine says:

    Apparently Stalenhag is definitely not involved:

    link to twitter.com

    • ashleys_ears says:

      Well that’s unfortunate. I would love to see a game use his Tales From the Loop/Things From the Flood setting. I got a pretty strong Stålenhag vibe from Atomic Heart at first glance too, so it seems like the general brushstrokes of his aesthetic are in vogue right now.

    • poliovaccine says:

      Given how goddamn hard his name is coming up in this comments section, in direct reaction to that limited clip, I’d say he certainly *is* involved, just not in the sense that anyone is consulting or paying him. But the design team has sure goddamn heard of him.

  13. pookie191 says:

    oh man.. Kill command the game

  14. Cederic says:

    Looked at the screenshots, thought, “That’s the APEX engine.” Watched the video. Yep.

    It’s the same engine underpinning theHunter:Call of the Wild, and it’s beautiful. So much so that I hope they nick 80s Sweden and port it into that game (with more deer and moose, maybe fewer mechs).

  15. sharpmath says:

    Johnny Five still alive! Great reference Alec.

  16. poliovaccine says:

    Not sure why everyone loves the 80s so much. Are people just pretending to enjoy the music? I would guess it was a too much cocaine thing, except that I know plenty of sober nerds who love it too!

    Maybe too much cocaine and being a sober nerd have something in common..?

    The more I think about that, the more I think I’m onto something…

  17. yhancik says:

    The first clear sign of 80s revival I remember is turning 20 years old this year: link to youtube.com

    In spite of signs of 90s and 00s revivals here and there, I’m starting to worry we’ll be pretty much stuck in the 80s forever.

    (especially when kids from the early 00s will start producing entertainment media based on their childhood fantasies inspired by second-hand 80s)

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