As Tokyo Game Show gets underway in the middle of September, all eyes turn to Japan for the next wave of gaming goodness. Among the many announcements is the latest trailer for NExT Studios‘ SYNCED, its ever-evolving hero shooter published by Level Infinite that is seeking to evolve the genre with its smart use of Nanos and tapping into the passion of its community.
As a new IP trying to break into a crowded market, there is much to get right for the team at NExT, but for Creative Director Clark Yang, the potential for expansion into a franchise of “not only games, but other products like TV shows and more” is not lost on him and the team. An ambitious goal, to say the least, but a dream worth chasing down.
“Because it’s a multiplayer game, and we have both PvE and PvP, to get the game and the mechanics right, we have to listen to the community,” shared Yang. “Sometimes the designers think one way, but when players try it, it’s different. So we are very open and listen to their feedback, changing our designs and tweaking details just to make sure that what we’re doing, people are going to like it.”
One of those significant changes came in the form of the player character, known as Runners, and the relationship with their companion Nano in SYNCED. While early implementations meant that players who lost their companion Nano had to hunt down a new one, it only made sense from a narrative perspective and less so from the gameplay point of view. With clear feedback from the community, eliminated Nanos became incapacitated with a cooldown leading to their revival instead, making the entire experience much more streamlined and focused.
Having a Nano is crucial if players hope to survive, and that comes from the many strategic uses of these companions, whether you are in an intense firefight or exploring the world. The defining feature that will set the game apart from its contemporaries, three major commands will change how the Crusher, Guardian, Seer, and Suppressor behave at any given time.
Nanos can operate as independent allies, providing distraction and dealing damage to your opponents, stay on guard at a specified location as a sentry or set up an ambush, or become one with the Runner, granting beneficial abilities that will enhance operative capabilities.
A Seer Nano combined with a Runner allows the “detection of nearby enemies within a certain range” while a Crusher gives a “boost for movement speed.” A Suppressor can augment shooting with “shock bullets,” and the Guardian will “form a helpful shield” as Runners go into fine aiming.
“So you can see the four different types of Nanos gave you totally different abilities, and add that to the abilities to stand guard or charge at the enemy, your options are basically tripled,” he emphasized. With PvP and PvE experiences prioritizing cooperative play in teams of three, the strategic depth is clear to see, and “doubling down” on something the community loves is almost always the right move.
The SYNCED team is also conscious of finding the right balance when it comes to player experience, which is why PvE and PvP matches will feel distinctly different. The former sees tougher Nanos counter the more straightforward and permanent progression of players. At the same time, the latter adopts a more roguelite approach in leveling the playing field between veterans and newcomers, with the randomized nature of things being a key equalizer.
“You can play for 100 hours, but that only makes you more experienced in terms of how you analyse the game, but in terms of the combat, it still takes the same amount of bullets to kill someone, even for a new player. We want to create a place where, if you really good, you will be able to catch up and get the hang of things really fast,” Yang said.
The ideal result is a shooter that boasts a competitive scene with plenty of tactical legs and fosters teamwork and constructive feedback not just in the game, but between the developers and the players as well. SYNCED will open up to more players in a future open beta, and it is an exciting prospect for a team focused on delivering to players what they want.
“This title is something we’ve never seen before, and it’s very challenging to develop. But in the end, when people really form their way of playing the game, that’s worth everything. So from the player’s point of view, just be frank with what you think, and we’re going to improve the game day after day.”