Off the Grid interview: "The next generation of battle royale"

By Tom West,

Off the Grid developer Gunzilla Games plans on offering players a larger map than any other battle royale game for 150 players, which will include a full story campaign, 3D scanned assets, and more.

During the same interview with Gunzilla Games CEO Vlad Korolev where we discussed the developer's plans to introduce NFT technology in Off the Grid, we also discussed many other aspects of the game that aim to "evolve the genre in completely different areas." The free-to-play game is being built in Unreal Engine 5 and will feature an island larger than any map offered by its competitors, as well as a narrative campaign, 3D-scanned skins, and loadout customisation options.

Off the Grid Cinema Switcher Part 1 trailer

During Gamescom 2022, Gunzilla Games dropped the first episode of OTG Cinema, a series of short films directed by Neill Blomkamp that will showcase what players can expect from the game when it launches next year. The series is shot in real-time using Unreal Engine 5 and in-game assets so players can see just how the game will look, and if it does look anything like the above trailer suggests, we could be in for quite the ride. There is "a very common problem, where players watch a fancy trailer and it [the game] looks amazing, but they get into the game and it's terrible," Korolev said.

"We are proud to say that everything you see in our trailer, is actually recorded in our world[...] we want our community to know that it's not fake, that's a real fight, and that's our actual world — we just put a camera in there and shoot our characters."

Gunzilla is attempting to redefine the battle royale genre by offering a game that "will have better visuals than any other game on the market right now, the biggest world, and a completely unique take on battle royales." Aside from the fact that Off the Grid is built in Unreal Engine 5, Gunzilla is also creating all asset skins in the real world and using 3D scanning to add them to the game. The items featured in the trailer above have all used the same technique, and we were able to see many of the real-world variants during our trip to Gamescom.

"We created real-world assets and then 3D-scanned every inch of every skin," Korolev said. "It's not concept art; we literally 3D scan all of it to make it [look] super real." It's not just the items found in the trailer either, as Korolev told us that all future assets will be 3D scanned as well. The free-to-play game will most likely require a fair amount of support post-launch due to its third-person shooter gameplay, which will place quite an emphasis on cosmetic appearance via the use of skins and other assets.

Off the Grid is a free-to-play, third-person shooter, battle royale game, which will support up to 150 players per session on its huge map, split into 50 squads of three. Squads will battle it out until they're either eliminated or the last squad standing, much like other games in the genre. Off the Grid, though, will also feature storylines that will be playable in the same world and in the same session as the deathmatch-style game mode.

"Imagine you're doing a narrative mission, and the other 150 people are inside of your narrative mission," Korolev said. "Our dream was to randomise it, to make every session different, so players never know what will happen to them in five minutes."

Much like the introduction of blockchain, the narrative mission side of Off the Grid will be completely optional for players that want to see what's on offer. With Hollywood director Neill Blomkamp defining the new IP's vision, universe, and characters, as well as Altered Carbon author Richard Morgan heading up the game's storytelling side, the narrative campaign sounds very promising.

"We plan to have a strong narrative like Last of Us and God of War, with their amazing storytelling campaigns," Korolev said. "But we want to unite it with other players if they want. As you see, everything in our game is optional."

All gameplay will take place on a single island, or map, and spread over the island will be various points of interest, which will represent different storytelling elements. The catch, though, is that the point of interest might have already been taken by other players, as it's what Korolev calls a living world. You'll not be able to use the location if other players have captured it, but the map will highlight the fact. Some areas might just not be available at the time, and while there'll always be somewhere for you to explore, you'll never know which parts of the world will be available at the time.

Korolev used the bunker from the first season of the TV show Lost as an analogy to describe Off the Grid's world. "Imagine that you're running on an island, and you're in [Call of Duty] Warzone or Apex Legends, or whatever," Korolev said. "You keep seeing this bunker, and then one time you see that the door is open and you can enter it and start participating in a narrative storyline."

The freedom to play the way you want seems to be the foundation of Off the Grid, and with that in mind, we were interested to find out how that extended to character customisation options within the game. While Korolev was reluctant to unveil too much about it, we were told that the game will feature classless customisation based on loadouts. As you can see in the trailer above, the characters feature cyberpunk-style body modifications, and you'll be able to add these to your character via loadouts, or even find additional 'loot parts' in-game that "completely change the gameplay and your abilities." While you'll have a base loadout to start each session with, depending on the location or situation you're in, you'll need to change your items to gain the upper hand.

"I love Apex Legends. I believe I've spent most of my time in Apex, and I'd say we [Off the Grid] stand closer to Apex, but we're building this game for a little bit more of a mature audience," Korolev said. "It's more hardcore, but if we're talking about PvP and the time it takes to kill somebody, it stands very close to Apex Legends."

Off the Grid will be available on Xbox Series X and S in 2023. Will it have what it takes to knock the likes of Fortnite, Apex Legends, and Call of Duty: Warzone out of our best free-to-play games on Xbox round-up? Only time will tell, but right now it certainly sounds promising. While we still hold a fair amount of scepticism towards NFTs and blockchain, it's hard for us to not be interested in what Gunzilla Games is building here. How do you feel about the project so far? We'd love to hear your thoughts down in the comments!
Tom West
Written by Tom West
Tom has been playing video games since he was old enough to hold a controller, experimenting with a number of systems until he eventually fell in love with Xbox. With a passion for the platform, he decided to make a career out of it, and now happily spends his days writing about that which he loves. If he’s not hunting for Xbox achievements, you’ll likely find him somewhere in The Elder Scrolls Online or fighting for survival in Battlefield.
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