Interview: Century Age of Ashes looks to the future of PvE and balance as Season 2 begins March 21


There are a lot of things changing for the horizon of the co-op and competitive dragon-riding battler Century: Age of Ashes. Players already know about the recently released full-time PvE mode that we checked in on last month, but this coming Tuesday, March 21st, will also kick off the game’s second season, bringing with it an all-new Thornweaver class that can be bought via cash shop purchase or in-game currency purchase, a new battle pass that has a new leveling system, a new ranked season, and a refresh of the Hünavatn Lake Map.

The new content prompted us to wonder about the future plans for Century, primarily with the PvE mode, its balance against PvP, and what content is planned for players of all stripes. We took the opportunity to interview Playwing’s Head of Marketing and Publishing Laurent Denis to find out more of what’s ahead. Read on for the details!

Massively Overpowered: So by all accounts the PvE mode was a rousing success. Was this success measured with the game’s existing player base, or was it because the mode drew in new players to the game?

Playwing’s Laurent Denis: Right from the early days of Century: Age of Ashes, a segment of our playerbase has been vocal about a less competitive approach to the dark fantasy experience we’re offering. Introducing a co-op PvE mode thus came as an evidence, and we ensured our active players would welcome this as an exciting new take on Century by keeping signature elements. We were fortunate to see new types of players joining, so much that it confirmed our intentions to make both PvP and PvE evolve in parallel for the future.

How does the team process feedback and use that to consider where to focus? And do you think this approach will change as PvE becomes permanent?

Player feedback is essential in our decision making process to drive the game forward, whether it be for fine-tuning existing content and game mechanics or testing out concepts. We track sentiment through our communities and support channels on a daily basis, and supplement with internal data to ensure strategic decisions are based on accurate observations. Our decision on course of action is then based on priority vs available resources. This has led to profound changes throughout the year; for example, the split of competitive Ranked queues and balance of PvE difficulty modes. The addition of PvE certainly doesn’t make us forget PvP players – if anything, it pushes us to consider them even more.

As you can likely appreciate, what PvP and PvE players want can be wildly different. Has the team considered this balance? What steps are being taken to ensure one side doesn’t feel neglected, or do you think that line can even be toed?

That’s entirely true. At the moment, our plan for the future of Century is to have both PvP and PvE evolve in parallel, with new content introduced regularly that’ll be tailored to each experience.

This might come in the shape of a game-wide system that will behave differently or have different features depending on whether they’re used in PvP or PvE, or simply new features tailored to one or the other. For the latter, the goal will be to launch a balance of content – bundled updates, or two close by – so either side doesn’t feel left out.

What does the full-time release of a PvE mode mean for the game in terms of balance? Is the team going to be splitting up stats or perhaps creating PvE-specific dragons and riders? Or will things be condensed overall?

The addition of PvE brought additional elements of complexity as we now have to account for player interactions from competitive and cooperative perspectives – and on top of that, players interacting with NPCs. Our challenge at first was to ensure each class keeps its signature element (i.e. Windguard as support, Stormraiser as tank, etc) and that each feels impactful and fun to play in all modes. For that, we split each class’ stats and balanced them specifically for PvP or PvE. But this actually made us reconsider several core elements of the game.

Whilst we don’t plan to introduce PvE or PvP-specific dragons or riders, I can already confirm that we are actively working on bringing more depth to the rider abilities system, and testing a different approach of the rider/dragon duo.

The PvE mode as it stood in Outbreak was basically a tower defense mode. What sorts of things is the team considering to keep that mode fresh and engaging?

First and foremost, our focus is on enriching the experience of this first PvE mode. It started back in January with Outbreak reintroduced as a permanent game mode with tweaks, followed by additional content: new types of enemies (Blast & Bomber minions), upgrades (Tower Heal Dragon) and an option to reroll upgrades. More will come throughout the year. We also added daily missions to encourage players to battle it out in PvE, and will add more at launch of Season 2.

Further down the road, the PvE experience in Century will expand in even more unique ways. For example, we know players want to properly sink their claws into the Parasite Queen introduced in the lore climax of Season 1 and as main antagonist in Outbreak… this epic boss fight is confirmed for later this year!

Will there be additional PvE match types planned? And if there are, will there be unique maps for each match type or will they be shared?

The arrival of “Outbreak” is just the beginning and at the moment, our focus is on strengthening the core PvE experience of Century through this existing mode. Once we feel that this game mode has enough depth and replayability, then we will introduce the next phase of this segment in our roadmap.

As just mentioned, we are well into the design of Century’s first-ever PvE boss fight and can already assure you this will be a spectacular cinematic experience. On top of this hefty piece of content, we are indeed setting the groundwork for a second PvE game mode. It’s still on the drawing board, and our current plan is to have it out later this year.

Players also come to Century: Age of Ashes because of its breathtaking scenery that feels straight out of a novel. And when it comes to developing entirely new game modes, we often find that the best experience possible can only be achieved if it has its own arena.

Will there be specific progression paths for each mode or will progression be shared regardless of match type?

Progression is a big beast that we have yet to tame. Century has been out for over a year now and over that time we have entirely scrapped the base progression path to add our own version of the Battle Pass in Season 1 (i.e. “Dragon Pass”). Now, we are leaning towards reintroducing an overarching progression path that would come on top of the seasonal progression. It’s currently under production; we aim for this system to galvanize players throughout the year with permanent elements and an entirely fresh take on character progression.

Let’s go pie-in-the-sky for a moment and consider PvE events or encounters that would be “dream scenarios” and not necessarily something promised or planned. What would those look like? Personally speaking, having a giant shared boss fight against something the size of the beast in Outbreak mode would be impressive, to say the least!

Looks like you nailed it right off the bat with the shared boss fight against the beast of the Outbreak mode! That’s right, the monstrous Parasite Queen is preparing to make its big comeback later this year and unleashing a devastating strike upon our players. Her assault will be nothing short of impressive, you can count on that!

Broad strokes, what does the future for Century look like? Are there any big plans or is the team kind of adapting on the fly?

The future of Century is about strengthening the core experience, bettering the systems with key features, and bringing additional content to the party through both seasonal and tentpole updates. It starts with Season 2 and its new class, new map and a hefty treasure of rewards in the Dragon Pass; and it’ll continue with the PvE boss fight, significant features that’ll improve the overall gameplay for all types of players, and a new take on live events to make them more exciting and frequent.

On a higher level, we’ll expand once more the roster of riders and dragons this summer 2023 with Season 3. We’re also working on a groundbreaking change to the core pillars of Century and on bringing the game to even more players. The big blocks of our roadmap have been laid down, and we will continue to fine-tweak it based on players’ feedback.

We want to thank Laurent Denis and the devs of Playwing for taking the time to answer our questions. As noted before, Season 2: The Fate of Dragons is set to begin this Tuesday, March 21st.
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