Sony has announced fast-paced third-person shooter Starhawk, the PlayStation 3 exclusive follow-up to Warhawk.
Starhawk, due out in 2012, is being developed by LightBox Interactive, the studio set up by Dylan Jobe and other ex-members of Incognito Entertainment, and Sony Santa Monica.
Warhawk launched as a Blu-ray and digitial download. Starhawk, however, will be released as a Blu-ray retail only. Unlike Warhawk, Starhawk features a fully-fledged single-player campaign as well as the multiplayer portion the series is known for.
Players assume the role of Emmett Graves, a Rift miner turned gun for hire altered by Rift Energy, found on the outer reaches of space. The enemy faction is the Outcast, humans turned into monsters following exposure to Rift Energy.
The game has a Wild West in space look and feel. Graves goes in search of his outlaw brother, the leader of the Outcasts. Levels are large and open, designed to offer dynamic gameplay with AI that adapts to the player's actions.
The gameplay hook this time is an RTS-lite element called "Build and Battle". As players kill enemies and other players they gather resources, spent on calling down structures from orbit and placed down on the battlefield as they see fit.
Structures include walls, gates, turrets and landing pads for vehicles. Structures can be demolished, too.
On the multiplayer side, Starhawk features 32-player matches, up to four-player online and offline co-op play, and split-screen gameplay within multiplayer and co-op modes against an endless attack of enemies.
The game supports tournaments, leaderboards, clans and additional friend list and quick matches. There's a community events calendar, ticker tape updates, and plans for a Starhawk Android app.
Development began after Incognito finished work on the Warhawk expansions. LightBox was in pre-production for over a year-and-a-half.
Does Starhawk represent the future of RTS?
"That's a bold statement," Jobe told Eurogamer at a recent press event in London. "I don't know. I'm a StarCraft freak and I love RTS games. A lot of games that have RTS elements suffered from problems because they were RTS teams that were trying to do shooters.
"In one meeting with executives, Sony said, 'What's interesting about your approach at LightBox is you're a shooter team trying to bring over some RTS elements, and that allows the soul of your game to still be a fast-paced shooter and not be about management.'
"One of the maxims we've always told our team was, building something in Starhawk should be as quick and as fun as pulling a trigger on a gun. You shouldn't have to manage. I kill you, I get your energy, I build more stuff so I can kill you again."
Will Porter went hands-on for Eurogamer's Starhawk preview. A dev diary video is below.