How do you like the sound of doing a megacorporation's wetwork with a squad of customisable elite agents in a dystopian future... from an RTS perspective? Though the new Syndicate reboot is an FPS, PC publisher supremo Paradox Interactive is thinking along similar lines to the original in Cartel, which it announced today.
Cartel takes place in a dystopian future ruled by megacorporation-y 'cartels,' Paradox producer Shams Jorjani told Rock, Paper, Shotgun. "The 'feel' of the game is based in that 1980s concept of the mega-corps: OmniCorp in Robocop, for example. The giant corporation that is all-encompassing and evil, but thinks it is doing humanity a favour," he said.
In this world, you'll send a squad of soldiers and specialists to solve exotic problems for your cartel, "controlled RTS-style." Mission types will include recon, exploration, sabotage, retieval, assassination, and other dirty deeds.
Jorjani explained that the idea came out of discussing Starbreeze's Syndicate FPS reboot. "What makes a Syndicate game?" he asked. "The world? The gameplay? The platform? The name? What is it? Cartel was born out of this discussion."
While the inspiration is clearly there, Cartel wanders off in its own direction. Between missions, you'll be equipping your squad and directing the Cartel's operations, from research and technology programs to diplomatic relations with nations and other cartels. There'll also be internal power struggles to deal with, either with diplomatic and strategic play or by sending in your dudes.
Players can, if they so desire, leave the missions or between-mission management to the AI, and focus on what they like most.
Jorjani explained that with its focus on the core PC market of "cerebral games for smart gamers," which demand less bombastic budgets, Paradox can "make whatever we want, without restrictions." It's best known for strategy games such as the Hearts of Iron and Europa Universalis series, as well as curios like Magicka and Mount & Blade.
"Thanks to Magicka and Mount & Blade we are in a very comfortable situation now at Paradox, so we can find something fun and just do it. 2K and the others might need to sell five million copies of their game, and might only be able to do that with a shooter, but we don't have that worry. We can make games that hearken back to the 90s," he said. 2K, of course, is currently rebooting classic top-down tactical series X-COM as FPS XCOM.
Cartel's still "early in production," with Jorjani saying that, not having the constraints of AAA, Paradox is free to prototype and iterate as much as it pleases. Once the team settles on a design, he says, "The game could be ready in 12-18 months, but we need to happy with that formula."