Contenders: Arena‘s frantic pace and non-stop action bring to mind classics like Unreal Tournament 2004, though its fine-tuned movement system sets it apart from the competition. With three customizable classes, varying movement mechanics, and complex level design with heaps of verticality and potential routes, this arena shooter has a lot to offer for gamers seeking an adrenaline rush.
In an interview with Game Rant, Gamecan acting art director Matt Cexwish and producer Abhilash Ravindran spoke about the various ways players can traverse the game’s maps, as well as how players can mix up their loadouts to hone in on their preferred playstyles.
Contenders: Arena Is All About Speed and Momentum
One of Contenders: Arena‘s defining characteristics is its movement system, and the entire game hinges on its speed and fluidity. In fact, the slowest possible way to get around a map is by running on the ground, leading to a “floor is lava” style of play where gladiators are heavily rewarded for chaining wall runs, sprint slides, and rail grinds to maintain their momentum. Since the game takes place in a gameshow setting, the layouts of the levels feel almost like skate parks rather than battlefields, with rail placements and wall run opportunities arranged specifically to make the arena interesting to play rather than “realistic.”
I also think that one of the first things that people see when they play our game is how fluid the motion is and how effortlessly you can maneuver through the maps. We have different ways you can move in the game, like with wall running, and we have a grinding mechanic. Most people see these big rails, and it reminds them of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater where they have those rails to grind around. You can slide and you can also apply speed boosts.
All of these things create this very, very fluid motion system, which I think is kinda special and unique. You rarely see something like this in a game. It leads to first impressions being “Wow, these are actually really agile,” and you can use different abilities to enhance or decrease these motions.
Engaging in Contenders: Arena‘s parkour movement system isn’t just about avoiding being shot or capturing flags more quickly, however. Players have devastatingly powerful ultimate abilities that are charged by performing parkour maneuvers, so players who skillfully chain wall runs and master the environment will have more frequent opportunities to blow someone away with a rocket barrage or obliterate them with a series of auto-aimed shots.
Players Have Lots of Loadout Options in Contenders: Arena
Contenders: Arena‘s three gladiators each focus on a particular playstyle, but it’s not a completely rigid class system. For example, the hulking Defender gladiator might be an obvious choice for defensive roles like flag defense but is more than capable of aggressive play with a few loadout tweaks. Obvious choices for the defender may be handheld or deployable shields, but a “force-pushing” magnetic hand can turn the gladiator into a seriously offensive opponent around lava pits. Additionally, despite the Defender’s inability to wall run, its unique jetpack ability is still incredibly fast with some skillful play making it a surprisingly effective flag carrier.
The idea of having these three classes was that one of the early challenges that we discussed deeply was that we didn’t want to make any player feel siloed into a specific class, which is why we tried to structure the abilities the way we have. You could be a runner, but you could have defensive capabilities as well. You could be a defender, but you could have offensive capabilities as well. We’ve tried to structure it in a way that there’s something for everybody to play, and that was our approach while designing these three classes. We didn’t want to fix anything like a hero shooter or something like that.
Encouraging players to experiment with class, weapon, and ability combinations is core to Contender’s Arena‘s design philosophy, and loadouts can even be swapped mid-match if tactics need to change or if the initial choice didn’t work out. It’s a refreshing change of pace from many popular hero shooters that lock players into a specific kit for the match’s duration.
Contenders: Arena is in development, and a demo will be available on PC during Steam Next Fest from February 5 to February 12.
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