Dahlia Rogue Company

Team-based online shooter Rogue Company has reached the end of its paid Early Access period and is now available to play for free on Switch eShop. While some players will have picked up one of the various Founder's Packs when the game launched back in July, there will likely be a huge influx of rogues joining the ranks as the shooter transitions into its planned free-to-play phase.

In our review, we said the shooter launched with "a strong base" to build upon, and the team at First Watch Games has been doing just that in the intervening months. The F2P update brings with it a host of new features, and we recently had a quick email chat with Creative Director Scott Zier and Lead Designer Scott Gandhi Lussier about those new additions, what the team has learned since launch, and what we can expect from this company of rogues in the future...

Nintendo Life: Rogue Company has been available since July on Switch. From the team’s perspective, how was the launch period? Did it meet expectations? Did it throw up any surprises, positive or negative?

Scott Zier: Launching Early Access for Switch was very exciting for the team! Developing for Switch was a technical challenge for us, as we set pretty lofty goals of reaching 60fps with the same gameplay experience and high visual fidelity across all platforms. This was a requirement in our minds for Crossplay, but was a difficult thing to make happen. It required our art team to rethink the way we optimised, and our developers to implement a lot of new tools and performance improvements. I think the experience of playing on Switch handheld for the first time was a surprise for all of us - you could see the smiles around the room, that the game was portable and it was all coming together! We’ve been thrilled with the feedback from our Switch players thus far.

There will likely be a lot of players who have been waiting for the game to go F2P before downloading. Can you tell us a little about the thinking behind the initial non-F2P period versus launching free right out of the gate?

Scott Zier: The buy-in Early Access is something we’ve done on previous Hi-Rez Studios titles, like Smite and Paladins. It has a large number of benefits, but maybe the most important is that it lets players get in earlier on the development process, enabling them to give feedback and help us improve the game ahead of a wider release. From a technical standpoint it also helps us to test things like game and server stability with a smaller group, before the floodgates of F2P open up. Early Access players also get access to unique deals in the Founder’s Packs.

With Rogue Company transitioning into its free phase, what new things are coming with the update?

Scott Zier: A lot! This patch we’ve seen the addition of a number of key features: Custom Matches have been added, allowing players to fill out a lobby with their friends. This gives community sites the ability to run their own tournaments and events as well. We’ve added Rogue Masteries, which allow players to earn cosmetic items and prestige items by leveling up their Rogues. In addition, our Free2Play launch will also come alongside the new map “Lockdown” and the new Rogue “Dahlia” being released.

Tell us a little about the new character and their abilities.

Scott Zier: Dahlia is a squad team leader, and has the unique ability to link or partner-up with any other Rogue on her team. Doing so will have Dahlia inherit that Rogues passive effect, in addition to allowing her to motivate them to get back up if they are downed. This ability allows for some pretty crazy combinations. For example; she can partner up with Scorch for fire immunity, or Lancer for reloading on dodge roll.

we were a bit surprised to see a preference grow for maps more on the sand box side [...] That’s influenced our development

What’s been the biggest thing you’ve learned (or tweak you’ve made) in the time since launch?

Scott Zier: That’s a tough one, because we’ve learned a lot! I think one of the more surprising things has been learning the types of Maps our players gravitate towards. We launched with a pretty wide variety of maps; some big, some small, some more “sand box” and some more heavily route based. I think we were a bit surprised to see a preference grow for maps more on the sand box side, with more route options and stronger use of elevation changes (maps like Windward, Favelas, and Skyfell). That’s influenced our development, and while we still plan to release a variety of maps for all player types over the next year, we’re putting some near term focus into those areas.

How do you go about analysing and reacting to player feedback, and weighing the pros and cons of suggestions?

Scott Gandhi Lussier: Analyzing player feedback starts by identifying the goal players are attempting to achieve with their feedback. When the goal has been identified, we pair the player(s) feedback to the community as a whole, and cross reference it with data. The most important aspect of incorporating Player Feedback is determining whether the player(s) feedback supports the overall goals for the system, design, and game.

Has the global situation affected scheduling or any other aspect of the game? How has First Watch coped with the challenges and changes everyone’s been dealing with in 2020?

Scott Zier: We moved early in the pandemic to having the vast majority of our staff working from home. Keeping up communication, daily development tracking, and playtesting was a challenge at first, but we’re in a pretty strong rhythm now. We’re very fortunate to be in an industry where working from home is a productive option. The team has put in considerable effort to ensure this hasn’t affected the delivery of the game.

What’s in the works for Rogue Company after the move to free-to-play is complete? Can we expect more characters/maps in the future?

Scott Zier: Absolutely. The journey for Rogue Company has just begun! We will have frequent ongoing Rogue releases, new maps, new modes, new features, and new ways to play. In addition to new Rogues and Maps this fall, we’ve also got Ranked play in development, new mastery enhancements, free events, and a lot more!

Did you enlist with Rogue Company in its buy-in Early Access period? Will you be giving it a whirl now it's free-to-play? Let us know below and check out our review for more details.