Zombies first invaded Bourbon Street last year on Rift, and now they’ve shuffled their way to the Quest Platform for the first time. TheWalking Dead: Saints & Sinners is a particularly tense exploration of the zombie apocalypse as imagined by The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkland. Like in the comic books and TV shows, Saints & Sinners is a survival horror experience where victory is a matter of reflexes, resources, and relationships.
We spoke with Skydance Interactive Chief Technologist and Project TD Peter T. Akemann to hear more.
How would you describe The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners to new players?
Peter T. Akemann: The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners is an action-survival roleplaying game set in The Walking Dead universe. Players must test their skills, wits, and moral fiber, as they learn to survive in the flooded remains of New Orleans. They will play a pivotal role in the fight to rule the city and its inhabitants.
The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners features an original storyline, freedom of choice, and groundbreaking physical combat, offers a deep experience where players fight to survive in a desolate city surrounded by unending herds of walkers and torn apart by warfare between the remaining survivors. Players will explore this expansive world as they fight their way through humans and walkers, scavenge weapons and supplies, make brutal moral choices, and uncover a mystery that will determine the future for everyone left alive in NOLA.
The ‘Tourist Edition’ includes special weapons, recipes, and collectibles, as part of The Complete Edition for players on Oculus Quest. Anyone who buys the Quest edition will receive the full Rift version of the game with all of the extra content for free!
How have players and The Walking Dead fans reacted to Saints & Sinners on PC VR?
PA: The reception to The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners launches on both PC and PSVR has been tremendous, far beyond any expectations we could have ever hoped for, both in critical reception and being robustly embraced by fans of VR and The Walking Dead. Players have especially taken to the physical melee combat system, which pushes the limit of free-form first-person melee. They also enjoyed the game's exploration elements, original storyline, and crafting system.
The game has also gotten tremendous exposure on streaming platforms, and we love seeing how different everyone approaches their gameplay in The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners. We are humbled to contribute to a culture-defining franchise and push the envelope for gaming in VR.
What key takeaways should players know about Saints & Sinners on the Quest Platform? Anything fans of the PC version should know?
PA: The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners on Quest is the full game fans have enjoyed on the Rift and other PC VR platforms, with visuals adapted to support Quest. It offers the same content and gameplay experience but offers the most immersive and agile way to play yet, thanks to Quest’s tether-free experience.
Our recently launched horde mode, ‘The Trial,’ launched as part of the Meatgrinder Update this Summer for PC and PSVR, will arrive later this year as a free update on Quest. We’re also working on Cloud Save, which will let players use their existing savegames from Rift to continue playing on Quest, and vice versa.
Lastly, with cross-buy, the Rift edition is included free when you buy The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners on Quest, so we do think this is the best deal in VR. In all, we think it’s a great offering for VR fans and can’t wait for people to try it out.
How does untethered VR change the way players experience Saints & Sinners? Is there a scenario on Quest you’d like to highlight?
PA: The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners has always supported a range of play styles—from seated to standing to room-scale. But the limitations of prior platforms, cables, and limited tracking volume have made unfettered room-scale play impossible. Quest makes this a reality.
The highly realistic personal scale and pace of The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners invites players to play with their body: grab walls to peer around them, crouch to hide behind obstacles or to enter low spaces, turn 360° while navigating the twisted hallways of a ruined mansion, all the while attentive to a threat that can arise from any direction. The player can do all of these activities without abstraction-breaking controller turn mechanics or crouch buttons with Quest. The untethered room-scale experience is the most seamless, most intense, and most intuitive way to play the game.
How do spatial audio, haptic feedback, and other VR features enhance the experience?
PA: Spatial audio plays a crucial role in detecting threats before they are visible and expanding a player’s awareness. They can hear a walker around the corner before they breach a door, or sense the size of a dark room from the reverberation of their breath. They can also hear walkers closing in behind and use a burst of stamina to vault over a wall to safety.
Haptic feedback enhances nearly every action in The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners, making them more intuitive and easier to control. Players can confidently execute complex interactions such as reloading a gun, feel the tension in a drawn bowstring or the struggle of a grappled opponent, or manipulate objects out of their field of view. Good haptics are indispensable to an authentic first-person VR experience.
Of course, VR itself gives players a heightened sense of perception of space and a broader sphere of action from what they would have in a conventional medium, which allows a great range of creative player decisions. We lean into this, challenging the player with dense scenarios of nearby enemies, weapons, and environmental features.
What was the biggest challenge in bringing Saints & Sinners to the Quest platform?
PA: The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners was one of the most ambitious VR titles of the year, and is possibly the most ambitious to have been brought to the Quest Platform. Knowing this, Skydance Interactive dedicated our core development team to the effort, starting with a 10-person team, ramping up to 25-30 with outsourcing support by the end of a five-month development cycle.
It’s quite a story in its own right, with lots of unexpected roadblocks that nearly took us down, and some wonderful late-game discoveries about the capabilities of Quest and Quest 2 (and even the Engine) that saved us. We hope to follow up this post with a Tech Blog post to tell that story in detail, laying out our major learnings from the process. We think there’s a lot to offer to other developers who want to bring more top-tier content to the platform.
Grab your headset, find some virtual medical supplies, then test your survival instincts in The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners today.