This week, EA released RISK: Factions on Facebook, bringing the absurdly popular game of world domination to social networks for the first time. As the name suggests, the social version utilizes the same zany characters and art that the Xbox Live and PlayStation Network versions did a few years back, providing a slightly different take on RISK than you might be used to. In other words: there are zombies and cats and everything is sort of crazy.
In order to sort out what makes this Facebook version so different from the one sitting in your closet (and the one on your Xbox's hard drive) we talked with producer Spencer Brooks to learn exactly what RISK: Factions has to offer.
GamesRadar: What challenges did you face bringing RISK: Factions to Facebook?
Spencer Brooks: The biggest challenge in bringing RISK: Factions to Facebook was merging the expectations of Facebook gamers with those of more traditional gamers (especially RISK: Factions console fans). A lot of RISK: Factions console fans are skeptical of Facebook games and we didn’t want to disappoint those fans by forcing them to grow watermelons or anything like that. At the same time, we wanted to make sure to take advantage of the fact that we are building a free game on a social network. It was particularly important to me to make it easier for players to challenge their friends, win or lose, and have those results reflected for the world to see.
GR: How does the Facebook experience compare to the console version?
SB: The biggest difference in the Facebook version is the sense of persistence that is added to the game. Players will have to build and manage resources, and navigate tech trees and a variety of maps and factions. It was also important to me to make the factions feel and play differently. In the console version, the different factions brought a great tone and fiction to the game, but were just a skin. In the Facebook version, the factions each play differently through their unique special weapons. For instance, the humans are all about attacking and increasing attack probabilities (through dice buffs), while the zombies play with the numbers of their troops and the cats have a more defensive style and need to pick and choose their spots.
GR: How does the PvP multiplayer work? Will players be able to take turns at their leisure?
SB: The PvP multiplayer is asynchronous: each player takes his or her turn and when complete, the game will pass to the next player. Players can have up to four PvP games going concurrently (plus a single player campaign) and we use all the functionality of Facebook to let you challenge and then taunt your friends after your victory. There is also a full PvP Leaderboard (both global and for your Facebook friends) that calculates a persistent ranking based on your PvP performance and lets you see how you stack up.
GR: How does the pay structure work? Will players ever need to spend money?
SB: RISK: Factions is a free-to-play game on Facebook. Players can play every single aspect of the game without paying one cent. I want to be really explicit on that point. However, there are certain features in the game that will require time and/or participation by your Facebook friends, and we will allow players to spend money to speed up their experience or play without any friends. The spending opportunities will not have a direct effect on gameplay, so you will not be able to “purchase a win” in a PvP match or anything like that.
GR: Are there more traditional options for RISK purists?
SB: The key difference between the classic RISK rules and RISK: Factions on Facebook is the card/special weapon system. In the classic version of RISK you turn in cards for more troops, in Factions you turn in cards to use special weapons. On many levels, Factions is a better way to play. It's more strategic, makes the game resolve faster, and game to game more interesting. That said, we are talking about creating a purist mode. If things shake out anything like they did with the XBLA version, people with play the purist mode once, and quickly realize the Factions version is way better.