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Mercenary Kings: Reloaded Edition Interview: More Than Just A Tribute

With the recent launch of Mercenary King: Reloaded Edition we had a chance to chat with Tribute Games' Co-Founder Jean-François Major.


Mercenary Kings has been out for quite some time now on both PC and PS4 and as far as everyone knew it was a done deal as far as new content is concerned. Developers Tribute Games went on to launch Flinthook to many critical and fan accolades. But instead of moving on to a new IP or announcing a sequel, Tribute decided to take a moment and add a few new features to Mercenary Kings in the form of Mercenary Kings: Reloaded Edition. We got a chance to chat with Tribute Games co-founder Jean-François Major about some of the games changes and why they chose to revisit Mercenary Kings.  

Mercenary Kings has been out for a few years now. What made you decide to go back to it for the Reloaded Edition? How long was this in the works?

We’ve been working on the Vita and Xbox One ports of Mercenary Kings for a while now. Sadly tech choices we made when we started Tribute have put [up] some obstacles when it comes to releasing on new platforms. When we finished work on Flinthook, we looked back at Mercenary Kings and thought, this is a great time to put everyone on staff to work on updating and improving the game. We went over the Steam forums and our own private notes of features that did not make the initial cut to lay out a proper plan of attack.

Are there any plans to add more content beyond Reloaded Edition?

We currently aren’t actively working on another feature update for Mercenary Kings. But we never know. I think at this point we’re pretty happy with the game and would consider a sequel over a new update.

Are you planning to do anything similar with Flinthook?

There are aspects of Flinthook that we wish we could toy around with and expand on. But we have nothing set other than the Switch port coming up.

Where did the concepts for adding C-Zar and Frigg to the playable characters roster come from? What about the influences behind the new weaponry and mission?

We always wanted to have four different characters to choose from. It just makes more sense for a four-player co-op game to at least have four different characters. But time constraints prevented us from achieving this goal. Frigg is a resistance fighter. While they are part of the game, we wanted the resistance fighters to play a bigger role by having one of their members join the Mercenary Kings. (Plus, she’s pretty badass)

As for C-Zar, we wanted to break the mold of what you would expect from a typical playable character. This also allowed us to expand on who exactly Miss Zero, the radio operator, is and what she brings or creates to help the team out. We also love the idea that maybe Miss Zero is controlling this robot remotely with her huge satellite.

The new mission is also something that didn’t initially make the cut. Before the Reloaded edition, we only had one Steel Soldier mission which comes very late in the game. We really like that mission because, while it’s not hard, it breaks the pace a little bit. And we meant to have a separate mission a bit earlier to play the same role.

How big of a role did the fans play in creating these new features?

Fans played an important role. Not all comments fit or work with our vision or design decisions. But sometimes, you are just too invested in your game and deadline focused to actually see some of the flaws or pain points. We try to read as many comments as we can. Some might be hard to read but if someone went out of their way to tell us, there must be something to learn and understand from those comments.

What else is in the pipeline for Tribute Games?

Right now, we’re reacting to the new flood of comments we are getting for the Reloaded edition. There’s Flinthook coming up on Switch very soon. And we of course never take a break, so we’ve been working on the next project as well.

How do you prioritize new projects vs working on something like Reloaded Edition?

It’s hard. And I don’t think we have the proper experience to really give a good formula to follow. We come from the Gameboy Advance era where you ship a game and move on to the next. This is no longer the standard format. We obviously look at a game, evaluate its success and consider if it’s worth investing more in it or focusing on the next game.

Is there anything you still weren't able to integrate this time around that you'd like to try in the future, or are you saving some stuff for a Mercenary Kings 2?

We always have tons of features we have to cut or that would heavily break/change the current game. Without promising a sequel, we have a long list of improvements and features we would want to see in Mercenary Kings 2.

Blake has been writing and making videos about pop-culture and games for over 10 years now. Although he'd probably prefer you thought of him as a musician and listened to his band, If you see him on the street, buy him a taco or something. Follow him on twitter @ProfRobot

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