In an interview with Shacknews, Tribute Games co-founder Jonathan Lavigne talked at length about his company’s current project, Mercenary Kings.
Comprised of members of the studio responsible for Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game, Tribute’s Mercenary Kings is a “2D side-scrolling action game meets RPG” inspired by the likes of Commando, Mercs, Contra, and Rush ‘n Attack. Stéphane Boutin, who handled background on Scott Pilgrim, and Paul Robertson, Scott Pilgrim‘s sprite artist, are both involved on the project—hence Mercenary Kings‘ similar aesthetic to Tribute’s previous project.
“Scott Pilgrim was a very different challenge in term of design,”Lavigne told Shacknews. “It was actually a bit simpler because all players were stuck together on the same screen. A few minor design concepts, like scaling the health of enemies depending on the number of players, or handling save games of different players, were brought over to Mercenary Kings, but almost every other challenges we met were new and needed new solutions. Mercenary Kings‘ cooperative play is deeper than what we achieved on Scott Pilgrim, because it allows players to use different strategies depending on the situation. For example, players can decide to split up in order to search for something more efficiently, or they can decide to regroup and fight a boss with their combined firepower. This makes the cooperative experience very compelling, but it also ended up making the task of designing levels and missions a lot more complex.”
According to Lavigne, the RPG side of Mercenary Kings comes by way of an extensive crafting system. Weapon experts can forge guns, knives, bionic modifications, and accessories and add-ons for weapons and gear by utilizing materials earned by completing missions. How players choose to outfit their characters will influence gameplay—light handguns and small knives lend themselves to speed runs, while heavier weapons mean slower progress but more damage.
Mercenary Kings launches on Windows PC and PlayStation 4 this fall. An early-access version is currently available on Steam, featuring 60 missions from the 100+ the developers say will be in the full, final version of the game.