It's been over a full year since this teaser trailer was revealed by Croteam at Reboot Develop 2018.
There haven't been too many official announcements since, other than the fact that Serious Sam 4 is in development.
But there are still many other interesting facts we learned through other sources - like journalists reporting behind the scenes footage and lectures.
And while we've all already seen the pre-alpha footage a hundred times over and carefully analyzed every screenshot, there are still some less hidden facts about the game which we know right now but are not so commonly discussed. This article attempts to bring together most of that specific, less-known information. More publicly announced details are not included here.
Keep in mind that not everything from this article is definitely confirmed! We are relying on external sources and we will list them at the end of this article.
- The game's subtitle, Planet Badass, indeed refers to Earth. It gains this nickname because the planet is, quite literally, full of badasses - the humans alive during Mental's invasion of Earth will be seen fighting off Mental's Horde with all their might, being true "badassses".(1)
- We all know we're going to be seeing returning weapons with a new coat of paint - the Deagle, shotgun, assault rifle, sniper rifle, dual uzis(16), and so on. But we haven't seen any new weapons as of yet. And it may be that the new additions to Sam's arsenal will turn out to be quite explosive! No, really, quite explosive. If one Japanese article is to be believed, one weapon in Serious Sam 4 is going to behave very similiary to a nuclear firearm! And trust us on this one - that is not a mistranslation, I checked. To quote, "And of course, the final weapons that were in Dboravich's story carry the meaning of nuclear weaponry". And when a Japanese person says もちろん (mochiron), they are quite confident in what they say!(2)
- The guys with the squid brains clad in orange are called the "Processed". Remember the backstory of the Kleers in Serious Sam 2? Imagine that backstory but applied to humans, and you get the Processed. These Processed have been zombified against their will to serve Mental. They even kind of behave like Kleers too! Or I guess they're more like Werebulls, just a weaker variant.(3)
- The game will have a grand total of 15 levels - on par with The First Encounter's level count. Those 15 levels will be split over three environments. While it would seem five levels per environment is the logical conclusion, that hasn't exactly been set in stone yet. Two of the three environments will be Italy(4) and France (more specifically, Carcassone(5)), while the third is suspected to be Siberia, or somewhere else in Russia, based on this screenshot with the Russian words for "seeds" in the background.(6)
- Serious Sam 4 will have sidequests, most of which in you can help the aforementioned "badasses" with fighting Mental's horde. In one particular quest, a lady called Annabelle and her friend are stuck in a bell tower, which we also see in the pre-alpha footage. Help them out and you'll get a sniper rifle as a small reward! Although not implemented in the E3 build, the plan is to have quest markers light up these side missions as the game gets closer to release.(7)
- Dark basements and other grim-looking areas are a thing of the past, as Croteam is focusing on making Serious Sam 4 have more vibrant colors without having the risk of burning one's eyes out. They really took that feedback from 2011 to heart.(8)
- Serious Sam 4's soundtrack is in the works, as usual being scored by Damjan Mravunac, and this time will be focusing on an orchestra-inspired soundtrack.(9)
- Speaking of which, it looks like the music system will be a little different than what we're used to. Specifics aren't exactly clear but there will be music specifically for when you're riding that motorcycle - and that might extend onto the other vehicles in the game, like the combine harvester and armoured popemobile.(10)
- Although this may be a given, split-screen (at least for PC) is coming back.(11)
- It seems that John J. Dick, the voice actor of Serious Sam, has already gone to work on voicing the character in Planet Badass!(12)
- Will we see Serious Sam 4 on the Nintendo Switch? It's all but confirmed by Croteam, as you can tell by the fact that this fact has four seperate sources to it, one of which came in just as I was about to post this article! (As a bonus, Talos support is likely too!)(13)(14)(15)(23)
- Croteam is using all kinds of new fancy tech to power the content in Serious Sam 4. Photogrammetry technology is once again being used, like in Talos, to cut time making custom assets - this time in a special self-designed studio(17) to make scans of real objects and turn them into 3d models. Motion capture, with quite a creative setup(18), is also being used to power some of the animations in the game (some, but not all!)(8)
- The game will be tested in a similar way to Talos - with an automated testing bot, continuously playing through the game ensuring it is entirely completable from start to finish. Some more specific features are also being tested in stand-alone debugging levels using the same method.(19) (You can already set up Sam to do the shooting through TFE, TSE and BFE for you, in Fusion).
- There's a lot of love being poured into the game, evident from the fact it's been in development for eight very long years! Croteam is appearantly making sure key areas clearly shine - for example, the artistic division over at the Zagreb office spent a whole four months getting the enemy gibs right!(10)
- We all know about the huge terrains - up to 128 square kilometers - supported by the engine for Serious Sam 4. Croteam has talked at length about how this feature works under the hood in two seperate lectures, one at the GDC 2019 and one at Reboot Develop(20). Most of what you saw in the first teasers was automatically generated (not in real-time) - it follows that measures still have to be made by the level designers to make sure nothing looks out of the place but a vast majority of the vegetation wasn't manually sculpted - and modders will be able to use that power too! It will be easy to generate such large landscapes.(5) Although no recording of this lecture is currently floating around the internet, we might see it at a later date.(21)
- While Croteam showed off the game's pre-alpha footage to press at E3 2018, they didn't actually get hands-on with it - Croteam demoed it themselves. And for a very good reason. At that point in development, dying would end up crashing the game! Obviously not a great idea to let game journalists do the dirty work...(22)