The Northern Powerhouse: Mavericks' Extraordinary World

Mavericks takes place on the Isle of Dern - a 16-by-16 kilometre battleground fashioned after the northern regions of Britain. Throughout its varying terrain and biomes - highlands, lowlands, uplands, forests, coasts, isles, and moorlands - players will engage in pitched battles to the bitter end, utilising cunning strategies and formulating tactics on the fly... but every now and then, they might just stop to admire a sunset.

While the gameplay is important to Mavericks, the setting is something that isn't just there for set decoration. Dern is a living, breathing environment stacked with history, vitality, beauty, and a fair share of mud - which fits that whole 'northern Britain' thing. "Getting that vibe of the British Isles in the map - who else is doing that?" asks Stuart Bugg, Lead Artist on the game. "This is a region so rich in history, so beautiful, and it's a perfect setting for us too."

Modelled on the real-world Isle of Skye ('in a happy accident'), just off the northwest coast of Scotland, the Isle of Dern is rich in both natural and manmade beauty. Exploring you may stumble across a ruined castle - possibly repurposed by the Syndicate, mixing old and new - a gorgeous seafaring view, or maybe a hydroelectric dam. Whatever it might be you encounter, it all stands by one of Mavericks' core tenets: believability.

"It's a near future world, and you'll see elements of that throughout," Bugg says, "But the Isle of Dern is absolutely rooted in believability. While you might see factions have taken over regions and made them look to be their own, it's still something utterly recognisable. Especially if you've been to that part of the real world."

"And that makes for a place with a much stronger sense of visual storytelling," John Handy, Environment Artist, adds, "On a broad scale, if you look at things region by region, you'll see marked differences - the colour schemes and terrain and so on - but when you're in there, on the ground, making your way from one place to another, it makes sense. It feels natural. It's believable."

Believability is key to the design of Dern, and it's the reason why you'll see a wide variety of features, but in a limited fashion. "We've pushed for elements of scale in ways you don't see in other games, but at the same time we've maintained that realism," explains Lawrence Barnett, Game Designer on Mavericks, "Look at our mountain - some might look and say 'it's just one mountain', but it would be the entire map if it were something like Battlefield!"

That scale mixed with realism is one of the defining unique factors about Mavericks, but there are plenty of other elements. Dynamic weather and a day/night cycle, wildlife, destructibility - this is a living world, a snapshot in time from 30 years previous. It's sat dormant, it's derelict, but it's repurposed, nature's retaken regions - there are stories being told in the environment, and not just through the narrative and interactions between players.

Speaking of narrative: "There are distinct areas of the map where you'll know you've walked into, say, Syndicate territory," Bugg says, "Their visual style fits in with their overall faction character of intimidation and... well, delusions of grandeur - so you're looking at things like fantastic manor houses and castles." So players entering a region and spotting older buildings along these lines might be heading straight into Syndicate territory, something that can be identified through knowing what it is the faction is about.

The Isle of Dern may be a snapshot in time, but it's not static - and Automaton is developing ideas for how the land can and will develop as time passes. The future of Mavericks will offer a dynamism seen nowhere else - tidal shifts, flooding from destroyed dams, taking out huge bridges... ideas are being swirled around, and while they might not all be implemented, the thing is they can be.

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