Any new battle royale title needs a hook: after all, we all know the formula, and Halo Infinite‘s popularity suggests that people may be tired of it. With that in mind, here’s the hook of Iron Galaxy’s new title, Rumbleverse: wrestling, and no guns.
The game was conceived back in October 2017, explains Adam Boyes, co-CEO of Iron Galaxy. “We were brainstorming, talking about different types of competitive games and Royale games, and our co-CEO, Chelsey Glasgow, was like, ‘We should do wrestling,'” he says. “And then the whole brainstorming session became what it would it feel like if you could chokeslam someone off of a 40-story building.”
The demonstration kicks off with a character creation screen. Iron Galaxy emphasizes that customization is critical in the game, with a huge suite of body types, faces, costumes, and accessories available for players to create their own monstrous or beautiful identity.
“Some of us have landed our characters, like my shirtless chef: I’ve been playing him for three years now–you almost become that persona,” he says. “And that’s what we’re really excited about. Because if you think about a lot of streamers, they have an in-game persona. And we’re excited to see what kind of characters they are going to build.”
The game moves into the pregame lobby area, the Battle Barge, where combatants are testing out grapples and doing the worm. The barge transports players to their destination, Grapital City, eventually firing them into the clouds so they can skydive in. A large zone blocks off a specific section of the city, so you’ll fight in a different area of the island each time: Boyes estimates an average match is shorter than a typical battle royale game, at 12 to 15 minutes.
This time, the game takes place in the financial district of the downtown area. Landing on top of a skyscraper, players immediately begin hurling their opponents to their destruction, while down on the ground the other rumblers, looking like ants, are whacking each other with trash cans and stop signs. To be successful, players will need to control the air and brawl proficiently down on the ground: there are no interiors in Grapital City. (The game is launching with a Duos mode, where you can split these tactics between you and your partner.)
Iron Galaxy sees Rumbleverse as a platformer: successful players will need that spatial awareness inherent to the genre. “We wanted to give people the freedom to explore the city first, and then to add the moves and brawling aspects on top of that,” says Boyes. “So what really surprised us when we started playing the game competitively in the studio is that a lot of people that were really great at platformers–we actually have some speedrunners at the studio–they became the best players.”
Each player starts with a baseline of wrestling moves: punches, kicks, and elbow drops. Then they expand their repertoire: a rocket item lets the player jump high up from the ground so they can begin to scale the skyscraper—like Spider-Man; a superstar mode lets a player unleash a huge elbow drop. Protein pods of different colors increase arm, leg, and core stats, for more strength, health, and stamina.
The game’s complexity comes from finding magazines in the city that teach you new special moves. These are ranked in order of strength (green, blue, purple). “We’re trying to use that core inspiration of wrestling, but then layer on all types of different sports and activities and actions in there: there are lots of homages, like a poison mist that you spit in people’s faces, and that sort of gives them damage over time,” Boyes says.
Rumbleverse will launch with dozens of these magazines, and a key part of its longevity will come from increasing the numbers of these weapons and move sets. The game’s live service elements will be familiar. Not all details are available yet, but there will be a battle pass and seasons. “You’ll be able to unlock some outfits, but then other cosmetics you can obviously purchase through the game store,” says Boyes. “The cool thing is you could buy a whole costume, and that will give you the full three to eight different pieces that you can mix and match with anything else. Or you can just buy a hat or a mask individually. So we think it’s going to allow people to do a lot of self-expression.”
Comparisons to Fortnite are inevitable—this is, after all, the first multiplayer game being released through Epic Games Publishing, Epic’s publishing label, and Iron Galaxy was responsible for porting the game to PS4 and Xbox One. “We drew upon our experience in the studio with games as service,” says Boyes. “We work in a lot of broad backend systems, right? We brought the Elder Scrolls Online over to console; that was a huge undertaking. So we knew we wanted it to be a live product.”
This story originally appeared on wired.com.