Strange Brigade is the latest game from Rebellion Developments, the studio best known for developing the Sniper Elite franchise. The upcoming title is scheduled for release next week, on the 28th of August. It features a very different tone to that of the Sniper Elite titles; one far more bombastic and adventurous. We recently interviewed Rebellion CEO Jason Kingsley about what the game entails, and what inspired the project in the first place.
Strange Brigade: The Upcoming Game from Rebellion Developments
Set in the 1930s, Strange Brigade is a cooperative multiplayer title. It pits 1-4 players against undead hordes, puzzles, traps, and plenty more ancient supernatural evil. Like Sniper Elite, the game is a third-person shooter. However, it features five unique playable characters and a far more fantastical setting. (Zombie Army Trilogy aside.) Rebellion released the game’s Launch Trailer earlier this week.
Strange Brigade casts its players as members of the namesake organization; itself part of the British Secret Service. The Strange Brigade will be working for the colonial government of the British Empire. Their task? To investigate the expedition of an archaeologist named Edgar Harbin and defeat Seteki; the undead spirit of an ancient African queen released by that same archaeologist, and the game’s primary antagonist. Defeating Seteki will take the players through a cooperative campaign, playable solo or with up to three other players. Gameplay footage certainly makes one thing clear; Seteki has no shortage of undead minions which the players will have to contend with.
Our Interview With Jason Kingsley, Rebellion CEO and Co-Founder
Aesthetically speaking, Strange Brigade is very different to Rebellion’s other best-known titles. What made you want to do something so different?
The Sniper Elite series is quite violent and aimed at for an older audience. Arguably the Zombie Army series is similarly violent with a horror influence. I felt it would be fun and interesting to push our team to make something brighter, colourful, a bit more in the style of action-adventure. And also a bit younger – and by that I don’t mean younger in the sense of something juvenile, but moving away from the horrors of war and zombies. It’s important as a studio that we don’t get typecast. We don’t just do Sniper games. We don’t just do Zombie games. We want to do a whole bunch of different things. It’s been great for the team to focus on that different aesthetic.
What inspired the tone and visual style of Strange Brigade? Can you give any specific examples?
I very much think of the Boy’s Own comics and books. It’s that spirit of naïve adventure that really fuelled the matinee movies and serial comics of that era – the 1930s, 1940s and the 1950s. There’s this adventure book that has a picture of a man driving a Bugatti through a jungle with a tiger sprawled on the front trying to get at him – in many ways that inspired the spirit of Strange Brigade. We’d ask ourselves if what we were doing was bombastic, incredible, engaging enough in the way those classic movies, comics and books were.
Does Strange Brigade feature single-player, or is it purely an online multiplayer title?
Strange Brigade very much features both single–player and co-operative multiplayer. We’ve carefully designed every aspect of the game to work both if you’re playing alone or with friends. In broadest strokes the game is the same, but we ramp up the enemies and difficulty with more players. Playing it in solo perhaps gives you a bit more opportunity to explore, maybe a spookier, adventuring vibe, but of course co-op brings all the teamwork and mayhem that comes with playing with friends. I personally prefer to play single-player games, and I wanted to make sure Strange Brigade worked for people like me as well as people who want to play co-operatively.
Following on from the last question; the game’s promotional material has emphasized 4-player cooperative play. Is a team of 4 players required, or can teams of less than 4 play; either with a reduced number on the team or with AI companions filling empty slots?
There are no AI companions, no. We’ve always been clear it’s 1-4 players. So you can play 1-player, 2-player, 3-player or 4-player. And it’s drop-in, drop-out, which means as you play your friends can choose to drop in and out of the game at any time. As they do, the game will automatically adapt; raising the number of enemies and the difficulty as more players join or reducing the difficulty when a player leaves.
Does the game include a story campaign?
Very much so! The story campaign is fully playable from start to finish in both single-player and multiplayer. The story centres around the Strange Brigade itself, a secret group of international heroes assigned to explore the world and dispatch evil. Their adventures take them into North Africa in this ‘episode’ where the evil witch queen Seteki has risen from the dead! It’s up to our trusty heroes to save the day, just like in all those classic movies and comic books. If you really want to get into the lore of the game, our book The True History of the Strange Brigade delves into the back stories of the heroes, and it’s a really good read, even as a standalone book. And it’s out now!
Are there different multiplayer modes in Strange Brigade?
Yes – we recently announced both Horde Mode and Score Attack. Horde Mode builds on the way you play in the story campaign – we throw even more hordes of undead at you, and there are lots of tactical decisions to think about. It’s a really fun, challenging mode centred on survival.
Score Attack, in contrast, is a much speedier affair. The quicker you make your way through each level and all the undead in it, the more points you accumulate – but you get even more points if you do it with style. Both modes are really strong – so it’s really great to be able to offer them to players on top of the story campaign.
And we’ll be making sure to introduce new maps for both these modes post-launch.
How many different playable characters does the game feature? Do you plan to add any more on top of those which exist now?
We have the four main members of the Strange Brigade that we’ve been showing in all our promo material – a very different, interesting mix of characters from different paths! But we will be introducing extra characters through our Season Pass. They’ll all bring their own skills and personality to the Brigade and give players lots of different options in terms of customizing their play style. On top of that, at launch we’re offering the fifth member of the Strange Brigade – the gentleman explorer Winston Bey – completely free for the first 30 days.
Would you describe Strange Brigade as an RPG, or is it purely a shooter with different playable characters?
I would call it an action-adventure game with puzzles rather than only a shooter or an RPG. You don’t have the attributes and inventory and traditional things that make an RPG, but you do have progression in the form of upgrading your weapons and unlocking your supernatural amulet powers. You have elements of your character you can improve. I would call it an action-adventure shooter.
Do you have any plans for DLC or other post-launch content?
As I mentioned we have the Season Pass which will introduce tons of content – you can look to our previous Season Pass for Sniper Elite 4 for an example of how substantial we’re thinking. This time we’ll have a new three-part mini campaign that will take the Brigade on new adventures, as well as new weapons, amulet powers, outfits for the characters and more. And on top of that, we’ll also be releasing free content every month to ensure everyone gets additional content post-launch.