In a move that seems to codify a sort of "Bastards" franchise, Blue Manchu is following up its 2019 roguelike FPS Void Bastards with Wild Bastards, a more open-ended, space western take on the concept. First announced at our PC Gaming Show: Most Wanted showcase, Wild Bastards is set to release some time next year.
"Roguelike FPS" gets part of the story with Void Bastards, but it's really got a lot of that System/BioShock immersive sim DNA—it has that same sort of hall-crawling light stealth, with RPG character progression closely tied to the limited resources you have at your disposal, encouraging you to tear through every cabinet in a room looking for sandwiches. You get a lot of those 'shock series' accidental eureka moments of leading enemies into traps or just barely scooting past them to make a daring escape.
Wild Bastards looks to double down on that player freedom angle, trading the first game's System Shock-y labyrinths for open-air maps on planetary surfaces. "There's a lot more variety to Wild Bastards' levels compared to Void Bastards," explains Blue Manchu designer John Chey. "We have six completely different environments, ranging from snow covered mountains to airless, low gravity hostile worlds.
"Within each environment, there are small settlements, rail stations, roadblocks, and wilderness areas. Each of these levels plays very differently with different sight lines, amounts of cover, environmental hazards and so on."
Blue Manchu is pursuing something similar with playable characters as well: in contrast with Void Bastards' anonymous, fairly interchangeable "Clients," Wild Bastards has a cast of distinct, Wild West outcasts with special abilities and mechanics a la Overwatch or Borderlands.
I got the skinny on two of them: Smoky, a cook who burned to death and is now some kind of fire revenant like Ignus from Planescape: Torment, and Hopalong, a snake-man-cowboy with a lasso. Smoky's all about AOE fireballs and leaving burning surfaces behind to trip up enemies, while Hopalong can use his lasso for single target elimination—at the expense of his crowd control capability.Chey described the relationship system coming to Wild Bastards as looking more like the mechanical, gameplay-focused one of Darkest Dungeon 2 as opposed to something super story-heavy like Hades: "Outlaws who are feuding won't work together, but outlaws who are pals will help each other out in showdowns (combats). For example, Kaboom will turn his pal invisible, while Preach will toss out some health pickups."
I'm excited to see where Blue Manchu takes its vision of a roguelike FPS/immsim next. Void Bastards is set to release in 2024, and you can wishlist it now on Steam.