Our first interview in 2023 is also the last pre-launch Q&A ahead of the long-awaited release of Atomic Heart, the first-person shooter developed by Mundfish.
Since its reveal in 2018, Atomic Heart has captivated gamers (us included) thanks to its unique setting of the Soviet Union, BioShock-like atmosphere and gameplay mix of powers and weapons, and highly detailed visuals. The game took a long time to develop, but after investments from Tencent, Gaijin, and GEM Capital and a global publishing deal with Focus Home Interactive, Mundfish is now putting the finishing touches on Atomic Heart ahead of its scheduled February 21 launch date for PC and consoles (Game Pass included).
With less than two months left before players get their hands on the title, we got to interview Mundfish founder and game director Robert Bagratuni for the fourth and final Q&A for Atomic Heart. Today, we are publishing the first part that focuses entirely on the game development process and what will come out after launch; Later this week, we’ll be posting the second half on all of the high-end technologies the game supports.
Can you talk about the details and rationale behind moving the company to Cyprus? Is the entire development team now working there?
We’re exceptionally excited to share some details about Atomic Heart as it’s set to launch in a matter of weeks, and we look forward to sharing the Mundfish story in the future. Right now, as you can imagine, our full focus is on Atomic Heart which has been under development and planning since 2017 in Cyprus. Our enthusiasm, anticipation, hard work and focus have crowned our global team to this point.
Can you share your pitch on how many developers have worked on Atomic Heart?
Today, we have 130 talented and dedicated developers on our global team located in Poland, Ukraine, Austria, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Israel, Armenia, UAE, Serbia and Cyprus. At various stages we have engaged contractors who have worked with major AAA games in all areas – from art to quality assurance. All the hours, creative and technical sessions and discussions were worth it – the level of production, innovation, level of talent and development is worth playing Atomic Heart.
What’s the single most challenging hurdle you’ve had to overcome in all these years of work?
It is difficult to select the most challenging obstacle, as there are challenges in every stage. Generating a new IP address is a very ambitious task. The whole evolution looks like one huge equation where A is multiplied by B, B by C, C by D, etc. These variables in the equation are dozens or even hundreds. The tricky part is that every variable is essentially binary and can be either a zero or a one. If one of the variables is zero, the entire equation will be zero. If you have bad credit, you get zero; If you make a bad optimization, you will also get zero; If you write a weak novel, you get a zero; And so on. I think everyone who has encountered the development of such complex products will agree with this comparison.
The game has been in development for a rather long time. We first covered it in May 2018, and at the time, your goal was to have it released by the end of that year. The final release date is now set more than four years later – what caused such a huge delay?
From the very beginning we wanted to create something extraordinary, a unique game. This applies to the story and game structure, as well as a lot of the mechanics. Our unwanted delay can be attributed to youth, ambition, innovation and new technology! During the development process, we made the difficult choice to abandon some ideas, even very big ones, like multiplayer. It was painful to have to make these kinds of choices, but it was the right decision. You don’t have to chase trends when you come up with something new and innovative. Our high ambitions didn’t always align with reality, it was a hard realization and we had to adapt. I think all studios go through this process at least once.
From our previous interviews, I know that Atomic Heart has changed quite a bit compared to the original design. Can you say that the core has remained the same, though?
For those wondering about the original design of Atomic Heart, the core gameplay has remained the same. From the beginning, we wanted to tell a story where progress and technology can spiral out of control and tell a great story about a confrontation between man and machine. The other part is “immersive” combat mechanics. We focused on polishing the gunplay, balancing the story, and creating a unique experience.
It has already announced four DLC packs. Can you provide a rough outline of what you will include? Could one of them be the multiplayer mode I discussed a few years ago?
The entire Atomic Heart experience will be single player, focusing on story and player experience. No multiplayer additions are planned at this time. The DLCs aim to greatly expand the player experience with new areas, missions, puzzles, and enemies as well as the characters’ and world’s stories. We plan to significantly expand the areas of the open world, as well as new complexes and laboratories – as the player will learn more about the world of Atomic Heart and will need to complete new challenges.
thanks for your time.