The Isles of Mavericks are inhabited by four playable factions, each with its own point and purpose - and distinct visual style. With players able to choose who to work with as and when they want, Mavericks is less about picking a side and sticking with it than it is about making your own way through this post-apocalyptic brave new world and dealing with the machinations of multiple entities. They all want something - it's up to you if you provide it.
"When we began Mavericks over a year ago, we were more of a military-based shooter," Stuart Bugg, lead artist, explains, "Everything had this basic military vibe to it. After a while - especially when the narrative started to take shape - we realised it didn't have enough personality about it. We realised we needed to lessen the 'bro' approach, and that's where the seed for the factions, and their characterisations, and even more of the narrative, was planted."
With a need to offer variety beyond what's offered in other, more generic-styled shooters, Mavericks introduced the Syndicate, the Last Special Forces (LSF), the Institute of Technological Resistance (ITR), and the Circle of Lazarus. Each faction vies for supremacy on the Isle of Dern - and each operates under the extremely watchful eye of the Capital.
"Each faction is essentially a rebellion against the Capital, which runs the island," Lawrence Barnett, game designer, says, "Each represents an ideology that we think fits - that is appropriate or conceivable within the overall setting."
The Syndicate considers making money - even if it involves exploiting people - in order to live in a world where its members are afforded additional security (and luxury, let's not forget) is the most important thing. The LSF, meanwhile, espouses a more traditionally militaristic rebellion, looking to recruit new soldiers and strongarm the Capital in a special forces-style, tactical fashion.
The Cult of Lazarus has come to embrace life - and the lack of death - on the Isle of Dern with a religious fervour, worshipping not at the feet of the almighty Capital, but at that of the purgatory they see themselves ensconced in on the island. The ITR, meanwhile, utilises technology and intelligence to wage a more covert, information-based rebellion against the powers that be - sitting behind the frontlines and offering a slower, more considered approach to things.
The visual identity of each faction is stark enough that they are easily identified at a glance - the Syndicate's members, for example, sport finely tailored suits entirely at odds with the grunge of this near-future world. At the same time, each character model is required - as a matter of playability - to have a similar silhouette, thus enforcing a level of balance regardless of who you side with.
"It goes all the way up to the armour," Connor Sheehan, concept artist, says, "Even that's faction-specific. The Circle of Lazarus, for example, isn't bothered by practicality - they don't dress functionally. The Syndicate, though, that's a faction that polishes its boots!"
It's not set in stone - there are many layers of customisation for players, and there's no requirement that you choose one faction outfit and stick with it. In fact, the game is open to mixing and matching - work for one faction for a bit, switch to another if you want to unlock their upper body gear, maybe. As well as balance, choice is another keyword going back to Mavericks' very core. As well as Britishness, we shouldn't forget.
Development of the factions isn't complete, and will continue to evolve as time goes on - as the lore evolves, so will the factions behind it. Each influences the other, and leads to a game world ever richer for it. And these factors are, like so much with Mavericks, the kind of thing Automaton is putting to the community. Changes will come down to noting what players do and don't enjoy, what is required to balance the game more, and just by asking outright: 'What do you want?'
Of course, the final deciding vote will always go through the Capital...
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