Over the last few years, the Souls series of games have essentially spawned their own sub-genre within the ARPG framework. Repeated runs, deep character customization, and build variety are a few aspects that keep players coming back for more. Building and expanding on this base and then adding vampires to the mix, NPC companions, and grafting on some gorgeous Anime-inspired character designs is Code Vein, an upcoming ARPG from Bandai Namco. Even during the chaos that is E3, Producer Keita Iizuka took some time to hang out with CGM and field some of inquiries.
This interview was conducted through the assistance of a translator.
CG Magazine: What are you most excited about? What are you proud to show off here at E3?
Keita Iizuka: What jumps out at you the most when you first start playing the game is you jump into the game and fight monsters and you will experience a lot of deaths and failures and re-trials. That will be the game flow but also there will be character customization, use your own inspiration and use your own ideas and this character is going to experience the story that’s being told in Code Vein, so the character experience that you get as a player is something that is very unique and a highlight of Code Vein.
CGM: Obviously there are a lot of similarities to other FromSoft games, like the Souls series, what are the differences between your game and those games? What did you want to do differently and what did you want to innovate on?
KI: Like I mentioned earlier, the biggest thing that jumps out at you initially is that it’s very similar to Dark Souls, where you have to try over and over again and in that repeated trial and error you get this sense of achievement when you finally beat that boss or that stage. I think the biggest distinction is the character customization and the wealth and variety of playstyles Code Vein accommodates. Also the partner system that we have. It’s not just your character but you have another person there helping you and supporting you along the way.
CGM: Can you elaborate more on the companion system?
KI: The partner system has its own individual AI and is very independent. You’re not totally in control of your NPC character and the experience we wanted to recreate was having another player join you and assist you along the way instead of having total control. The AI/your partner character will support you in battle, it will help you defeat bosses and enemies and things like that. In addition to that, they will help you in your adventure and your exploration. If you’re missing treasure that you just passed by or can help you detect an enemy before you realize. Each of the partner characters also has their own unique story, and throughout the game you get to see a lot of the human drama unfold with your partner characters and I think there will be a lot of attention and attachment from the player to these characters and my hope is that the player’s will come to love them and appreciate each of these characters. They’re not just a sub-character that is fighting alongside you.
CGM: If you switch often between the characters rather than focus on one will there be advantages and disadvantages? How will that affect the gameplay and the story?
KI: Switching between the partner characters will not affect the story flow or the outcome of the story. However, this is a mechanic called Affinity, which is one of the parameters that is set up with the buddy characters. The more time you spend with them the higher your affinity level and you will sometimes receive gifts from them or unlock extra dialogue, things like that.
CGM: Will you be able to upgrade and customize the partner characters?
KI: Currently the partner characters do not have any sort of customization capabilities. In terms of their core stats and things like that, they will level up with your character’s development.
CGM: One of my favourite aspects of games in this genre is build variety and replayability. You’ve spoken about the customization, will the playstyles feature a lot of variety and will there be many of them?
KI: That’s actually exactly one of the key highlights of Code Vein, the variety. This includes things like weapons, the gift system, your blood code, even the partner that you choose and the skills you choose…all of that will affect how you play and the strategy involved. One thing I want to highlight is the gift system and all the different combinations that you can produce. One reason for the initial delay of the release was expanding and improving on the game feel and the whole variety of what you can do with it.
CGM: Can you elaborate more on the gift system?
KI: The gifts are tied to this thing called a Blood Code. Once you get the Blood Code and you start to improve it and level it up you will begin to unlock more gifts. Once you use a certain gift, and stick to that gift, it will level up as well until you reach a max level. Once you reach this max level you can actually carry over that max level gift to other Blood Codes. This allows for even more expansive and varying gameplay with the codes and gifts and gives a whole other feel of options. Some of the gifts require certain stats to be met or certain criteria. It would require you to equip certain blood codes to meet those requirements, in order for you to realize your ideal character or playstyle this is something that you’ll want to experiment with to see what you like.
CGM: Will there be multiplayer of any kind?
KI: There is going to be multiplayer, it will be your character and your buddy character and another person joining you in the party for three characters in all. You can play through the entire game in multiplayer. If you were stuck somewhere and need to level up a character for example, you can join other games or other parties and participate in exploration and battles and gain experience and collect items, and then come back to your own world and try to progress through your own story.
CGM: What can you tell me about the level design? Are we looking at one giant interconnected world, or will there be a hub system?
KI: The levels are pretty much linear, and you unlock fields one after the next as you progress through the story, but there is a hub you can always come back to.
CGM: Is there anything else you’d like to add for our readers?
KI: As I mentioned earlier, the key highlight of this game is creating your own vampire character. You’re customizing your weapons, your skills and movesets, and with the sheer variety of options available to you, you can make your own…adjust to your own preferred playstyle. One of the things the development team focused on getting right was the merging of a solid action game and a solid RPG. Merging those two things together was one of the things that we really focused on while making the game and creating and packaging it into one cohesive game. We hope that the player gets the value of that. This whole interactive action vs. character development aspect of the game is really unique, and we’re still working on polishing the edges but I think when it comes out it’ll be something fantastic and we hope you’re looking forward to it.