Battle Bolts - Release Event Recap!
By Mauritsio

Thursday was a special day since we were finally allowed to celebrate the release of a new Croteam game! Okay, I won't sugar-coat anything - it was the release of a Croteam Incubator game. Sorry, Sam 4 fanatics, your time will come soon. Maybe not as soon as you expect, but soon, nonetheless.

But Thursday was, after some minor delays, the release date of Battle Bolts - coming out on Steam for the first time in Early Access! Battle Bolts is one of the passion projects blooming under the Croteam Incubator name alongside games such as the past I Hate Running Backwards and upcoming Tormental - out of the three, this one is the only game that has no direct relation to the Serious Sam universe, so you might think that makes it less interesting - but maybe the opposite can also be said! In any case it's something new generally coming from Croteam's direction, so we at 7Smoke had more than just an obligation to try it out!

But limiting it to 7Smoke would be taking a quite narrow point of view. So instead, we saw an opportunity with an upcoming release event being held by the Battle Bolts development team themselves! Fun little fact - this team is quite small, consisting of only four people, including their team lead in Damjan Mravunac - the man himself, the creative mastermind behind the Serious Sam games soundtracks! For Damjan, developing this game has been sort of a passion, taking breaks between composing the soundtrack for Serious Sam 4. You'll hear him light up when talking about how he got inspired by the tabletop games to create Battle Bolts (which is definitely an aesthetic you can clearly see in the game!) - and so he is really hoping the game's core idea resonates as well with him as it does with the general gaming community!

So let's dive into the event. An event was organized an hour past our regular event time in Croteam's official Discord server, where we would gather in their voice channels to organize some play sessions. As you may know, the game supports up to 4 players per match, so we had to split our players up into groups. As you may also know, dedicated online multiplayer is not a feature that's been readily implemented as of yet - so we had to make use of good old Parsec, with which we can emulate online play. So quite quickly, everything was already in place! Beforehand we had arranged for a few people to host games - namely Mauritsio, StrikeUnleashed, Pan and nano had their computers prepared. This meant that even if you didn't own the game you could still come to play a round or two with us!

Yet, the event itself could not really be complete without experiencing some issues of its own! We'll remember that someone in particular was not exactly happy with Parsec as a software and it caused some delays in being able to play a proper match. But once we did get going, we got going quite alright! The game was received quite well even with the people who were a little skeptic of it at first - and it got quite hectic at times! One of the maps you'll play on is called "Dizziness" and it's filled with tiles that switch your orientation around. So if you're not into the game flow, it becomes quite hard to play it right - and none of us were really into it yet, so of course you can imagine that was a rather short round...

When we tried other maps, the heat was truly on and we tried our best to come up with the best tactics. One other map, called "Fixer" involves a middle area with tiles that heal your tank back up when you stand on them. Control of this middle area is key - I remember Roy doing his absolute best to stay in there but in the progress taking way too long to take out his opponents in the outer area! That lead to some unintentionally long rounds... Also fun were the rounds where we made everyone pick the same tank - how about four Neros burning everything down? Sadly there always being one outlier who didn't quite get the memo! There was a lot of shouting in that time.

Nearing the end of the event, Damjan himself joined us to answer some questions about the development of the game and get our overall feedback on what we've seen so far. He even hosted a mini-concert where he played "The Ecstacy of Gold" from the famous spaghetti Western movie, "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly", to us, as a tribute to Roy's love of this genre. But maybe more interesting are his answers to the questions. For instance, Damjan confirmed the return of the honking mechanic from the alpha (which as of writing is back in the game!). He also hinted at the possibility of a map design contest, elaborated on AI improvements (they're gonna be smart!), statistics (leaderboards are coming) and more. He even took into consideration some suggestions from the community that might make it into the game into the future!
And on that high note we ended a fun night of Battle Bolts - most likely we will have a release event for when the online multiplayer gets added! We're looking forward to that one - it's bound to be even more mayhem!