Apparently, Paradox CEO Fred Wester's dream game is set...in Staffordshire, England. Or so you'd think from the very limited CGI trailer we've just been shown at GamesCom, which intones "Staffordshire, 1471" at its beginning and shows a Very Serious armour-clad Lord scowling as his horse climbs through a wood, scowling when he sees a castle under siege, and scowling as he raises his sword and rides away. He probably scowled when his first child was born. Formerly "Project Postman", this is Paradox's big mystery game: a roaming medieval melee combat game, now revealed as War Of The Roses.
Apparently, the game is going to look very similar to the trailer, when completed, so it's not entirely misleading. Unusually for Paradox, it's a fairly pure combat-oriented game set in Medieval times. Gordon Van Dyke, the Paradox Producer in charge of managing developer Fatshark, creators of Lead & Gold, described it as being based on an "accessible melee combat system", and implied that it was going to be very similar to Mount & Blade, if slightly more arcadey.
The impression is that your character will be involved in monstrous medieval battles where the sides are beating each other with lumps of metal, pincushioning the landscape with arrows, and generating carrion to keep those crows oh-so happy. “Frederick, when he played the first prototype of this game”, said Van Dyke “it was just a bleak surroundings with two guys with swords and shields. We just practised and looked at the combat, and we've gone back and iterated on it... we're trying to approach it in the same way (as first person shooters). It's an area that's kind of missing in the market, right now.”
There will be a single-player story-driven campaign designed to help players get into the multiplayer part of the game. Given the era and title, that's fairly likely to involve you taking the part of one of the houses of Lancaster or York (White or Red Roses), as they butcher and intrigue their through 30 years of English history. The era saw the first introduction of gunpowder technology, meaning the once-impregnable castles of the Lords and Barons began to fall in short order.
Despite the potential strength of the story, Martin Wahlund, Fatshark's CEO and internal producer, pointed out that the focus of the game is very much on multiplayer, as they try to capture the feel of the era's combat. "The goal is to allow as many people as possible... (in) a really medieval battle". The game will support dedicated servers (to allow players to customise their gameplay and the map set-ups) and will track players' ranks in various weaponry systems across all games; if you invest a lot of time into broadsword skills, you'll be reward for that. Performing unique actions in single or multiplayer will also unlock unique items for multiplayer use, implying the multiplayer will be something like a huge scale Modern Warfare. “dedication to playing the game should have some intrinsic value” says Van Dyke.
The game is being built with the proprietary and multiplatform BitSquid engine, which means, sadly, it might not be a PC exclusive. It's due in 2012.