Necromunda: Underhive Wars Interview on Level Design

In a promotional post on PCGamesN, aimed at showcasing the advantages of Unreal Engine 4, Rogue Factor developers talk about their upcoming title, Necromunda: Underhive Wars. Despite this being presented as a sponsored pro-Unreal article, in its essence it's still a decent interview that discusses the unique challenges of working with a Warhammer license and the level design considerations that stem from that. An excerpt:

On the tabletop, Necromunda games were distinctive for their verticality: networks of layered plastic platforms, from which gangers traded bolter fire.

“It was really famous for that,” points out Bordeleau.

“Verticality was a new thing in the tabletop version, and we really want to push it further,” adds Voghel. “You’re going to encounter maps where height has a lot of importance, skills that have a lot of impact on height. The verticality of a shooter is going to be a lot explored in that regard.”

Not only are Necromunda’s battlefields tall, they also play with scale. These are, after all, the factory floors where the Imperium builds torpedoes for kilometres-long battleships.

“Your character will feel super-small compared to one big missile,” Bordeleau promises. “The bigger nature of those aspects is super important to us in terms of gameplay and perception.”

“We started development saying, ‘It’s Warhammer, so everything is big,’” Voghel expands. “But just saying everything is big doesn’t really help you.”

Rogue Factor have taken it upon themselves to provide context for the larger 40K universe. Where a frigate in Battlefleet Gothic might not convey its size against the blank backdrop of space, in a Necromunda map a single shell casing from one of its smallest cannons can be rendered ten storeys high.

“This is not something you see in a lot of videogames which are grounded in reality,” says Voghel. “We’re still finding new things to blow up in proportions, but it’s a very exciting thing to find this little secret garden of disproportionate weapons and equipment.”