PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds helped parachute the Battle Royale genre into the mainstream - thanks to its addictive gameplay that's perfect for streaming - and its success has spawned a new generation of similar titles. Mavericks: Proving Grounds is one of them, and it's hoping its technical prowess will be what sets it apart from its rivals. It's still early days, but it's promising "1,000 concurrent players in an ultra-high fidelity world instance" with photorealistic looks, a strong social side, and a player-driven story.
"We're a studio that's very technically focused. My background is computer science," says CEO of Automaton, James Thompson. He doesn't mention it during the interview, but that background involved making his first million by age 17 building AI software for the classic MMO RuneScape.
"The key thing is that we're building Mavericks: Proving Grounds very differently to the other Battle Royale games of today," says Thompson. "We spent a couple of years on the background technology for the engine, so the limitations that are in place for other games aren't in place for us."
The small slice of the game shown at GDC 2018 was certainly high FPS and high fidelity, even at this early stage, and Thompson promises much more when his team starts talking closed beta in June. Mavericks is focused on pushing player counts and dynamic content together.
"You'll have seen a few tracking and destruction systems in the build today, but there are a lot more going in. You can do a lot with the world in terms of destruction, and the world is much more dense than any Battle Royale game that's out there at the moment," says Thompson.
"I'd also say we're a more tactical game. While we still have smooth, relatively easy-to-use gunplay - we're not trying to be super hardcore there, we want it to be accessible - because of how much more we're doing with the world, it's less RNG [random number generator] based. You can really think of strategies across our maps."
Thompson wanted to point out that this massive world and Battle Royale would eventually be combined with an "open-world RPG" the studio would be developing over the next couple of years. "It's not just two games shoehorned together; it's that Mavericks is the first Battle Royale that has a believable and fleshed-out world that's going to continue to develop over time."
It's worth nothing that a lot of people working at the studio have a background in big MMOs like Warhammer Online, RuneScape, APB, EVE Online, and Dust 541, so it's no surprise that they have ambitions beyond one single genre.
"We're excited about this huge upcoming genre - there's a lot more to come," says Thompson of Battle Royale as a trend. "What's out there on the market is just the best you can do with the last generation, in a way. We're looking to explore a lot of different things with the world and everything else to make a multiplayer world that's really tactical and engaging."
The game is due for release this year, and Automaton will be announcing details on its closed beta soon. You can sign up to hear more on its website.
Ready to start practicing? Check out our list of 10 awesome Battle Royale games that aren’t PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds