Vela Games’ Project V has been officially revealed. Called Evercore Heroes, the upcoming game combines inspirations from many different genres. It looks and controls a lot like a MOBA, even with a colorful roster of sci-fi and fantasy heroes. But there are also elements of a cheat, given how each player goes deep into each match with the goal of optimizing their build for the current series. Evercore Heroes also dips a bit of PvP competition into the primary circle of PvE gameplay.
In Evercore Heroes, four teams of four each battle through waves of enemies in PvE, all on the same map, each trying to achieve objectives and fully equip themselves with powerful shards while protecting their evercore from waves of enemies. After several rounds, all teams are placed in a boss encounter where it’s a race to see which team can defeat the big bad first.
If your team’s evercore is destroyed, you lose. But leaving it behind to complete objectives is the only way to gain enough resources to fuel you and your allies enough for the boss, so it’s worth finishing and finishing as many as you can between waves of enemies. And even if you can’t directly interact with the other teams on the map, you can see where they are and what they’re doing, giving you a chance to try and complete objectives on the map before they do, disqualifying them from receiving the rewards for specific project.
After the Evercore Heroes reveal, I interviewed Vela Games co-founders Travis George, Lisa Newon George, and Brian Kaiser. The transcript of our conversation is detailed below.
GameSpot: How did you come up with this art and visual style? It’s quite lively, despite the dark undertones of the narrative.
Brian Kaiser: Just in terms of the overall presentation of the game, it was a very deliberate choice to deliver something that felt alive, that felt positive. We really want to give players a satisfying, fun and positive escape with this game. And you know, the stakes are very high in the story. And you heard about the Shattering and how it affects the world and things like that in the presentation. But there’s also a hope built into the story automatically because the veil is starting to break, but it’s still there. There’s a chance it might break further, there’s a chance there might be a way to fix it. We could have set the story 100 years after the veil was completely torn — that’s an apocalypse, so we didn’t go there. We wanted [players] to feel heroism. We really wanted to have the spirit of players coming together and having that competitive PvE experience, but with that focus on team play cooperation, and really bring that sense of teamwork and heroism and that positive escapism to the story. And the fact is, of course, the look of the world and the characters.
Lisa Newon George: And speaking of heroes–well, first of all, taking a step back. We decided to kind of go for a more stylized look to the game, you’ll see that – especially with the look and design of the heroes – as opposed to something more photorealistic. This is a style we love as creators, but we also think our players would really love too. So in terms of what kind of personalities and tones you might see in the original eight [heroes], this is just a starting point — we’re developing a larger roster. And within that roster, there’s going to be a wide range of different personality types and stories ranging from more upbeat, positive, kind of wacky and cute, to characters that have more of a dark side, more of a darker look. And so, we’re trying to really push the boundaries there and offer different types of heroes to different people because we know that players have a lot of different styles and tastes and connect to different types of heroes. And so we really want to provide a hero for everyone in that way that everyone can find and connect with.
You talk about that starting point and then you build the hero roster. Was there a specific rationale for starting with the eight seen in the trailer?
Travis George: We had a lot of discussions about this because we have more than eight [ready]. One of the reasons was that we wanted to represent different styles of play. And this group plus [seen in the trailer] could be a very valid team in the game. It’s not something you have to choose, but we wanted to show it [a valid team]–We always want to be authentic. We didn’t just pick the coolest characters.
Lisa Newon George: When we put our heads together, thinking about the trailer, we really wanted to showcase four different heroes from different regions with different personalities and different aesthetics, different stories and different playstyles. And we landed on those initial four, and then the four that were running, like, we were thinking about all these different things, and we decided on those four, for possible stories going forward.
How much focus is the story?
Brian Kaiser: When we play the game every moment of a session, we all focus on the gaming experience we have with our friends with our colleagues. And we think this is very important. Stories are an important part of the experience, however, and the game has a seasonal structure. And that opens up a lot of really exciting opportunities for things that we can do narratively that evolve the story world and allow for change and allow us to take a closer look at the characters and get closer to them and for the players to fall in love with them with the way we have. And you take those experiences and those feelings from the characters and of course you bring them with you into the game experience. So I really see it as a cohesive experience. It is total. So you know, having some of these characters feel like you have an impact on this world is an important part of the overall experience.
What mechanics or features are there in the game to encourage players to work together and not go solo?
Travis George: Great question. And I think I’ll just say up front, I think we’ll continue to evolve it over time. And I can tell you what we think about it right now. One is just the base of the game itself. Project V, when it launched, was very much a co-op PvE experience – it didn’t have that competitive element on top of it.
But now what you have is you have this competitive element where you have to beat other teams. But moment-to-moment play is still very cooperative. We don’t like to talk about genres – we like to talk [Evercore Heroes] like its own thing because honestly there are too many influences in the genre. But if you think about a MOBA – which a lot of us here have worked on, so it’s a good benchmark – you’re playing like three or four separate games. And then occasionally gather in a group to fight or challenge an objective.
This is very collaborative [experience], as you will have a very hard time going out and trying to do much on your own. Now, we also don’t want to be overly restrictive. So there are actually a few ways you can devise a split strategy. There is actually a piece in the game that is pretty rare, but will actually allow you to have enough power and stats to go out on your own if your team wants it. But in general, if you just decide you’re going to go out and solo, you probably won’t get very far. And you probably won’t win the race. One of the biggest things I can say to this general mindset is that the way to be good at Evercore Heroes is to be really good at working with your team.
Does the game use a role queue?
Travis George: Our intention is to put as few restrictions as possible in terms of matchup because we think it’s really healthy for the game to have an evolving narrative driven by player strategy, and so part of that is flexibility – there are many games where we have seen their methods evolve in drastic ways over time. And I think the tighter restrictions you put on these things, the less room you have for maneuver. And we just generally think we want to create an ecosystem where players can develop fun strategies, because that’s part of the game: thinking about team groups. So I can’t commit to what [Evercore Heroes] will be in the future, but our intention is to have as few restrictions as possible.
I will say, in the game, because of this cooperative nature, the roles are quite distinct. Tanks have really different tools — they have taunt, like there’s aggro in the game. DPS [characters] they have to apply DPS, so they often have disables. So it’s very hard to run if you’re the tank of the team. You can do it, but, again, you probably won’t win. The game can indirectly impose more notification on you than we would artificially, if that makes sense. Just because of the co-op nature of the game.
What incentive will be in play to encourage losing teams to stay or punishment to prevent them from leaving early? Like, how does the game handle losing? Do you still earn something for completing a match?
Travis George: In general, one of the things we liked about the four-team format, as opposed to the binary, win-lose, is if you’re in fourth, you can fight for third, and if you’re in third, you can fight for second or first – you can return. There are mechanics where even if you fall behind at various points, if you can play with someone in a moment and keep that momentum going, you can change the game. And nothing artificial happens behind the scenes. So there’s no rubber band or anything like that. But we give you opportunities to show your skills at that time and come from behind.
Now, the game gets harder as time goes on. So if your team is really behind and really underpowered, the game becomes very difficult. Because the first step is to beat the game, and the second step is to beat the other teams while doing it — you might actually just get banned. I played in a match last night where my Evercore was destroyed. And so I was out after about seven minutes. So there are such mechanisms.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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