Persist Online interview: CipSoft explains why Persist is an MMORPG, not a survival shooter


Earlier this week, we covered the surprising news that Tibia developer CipSoft has a new MMORPG on the way. At least, the studio is calling it an MMORPG; Persist Online looks a lot more like a cross between a PvP sandbox MMO and a post-apoc, zombie-themed survival title, just in a massive persistent setting. But of course, there’s a lot more to it.

So naturally, we had questions for the team about how Persist Online fits into the genre, so we snagged the chance to chat with Benjamin Zuckerer, the lead product manager for the game and managing director at CipSoft. Read on for the whole interview!

MassivelyOP: The first and most obvious question I have is what exactly makes Persist Online an MMORPG specifically and not just a survival shooter?

CipSoft’s Benjamin Zuckerer: Persist Online is definitely not a shooter; it is a fully fledged MMORPG with a rich set of features that distinguish it from typical survival shooters. Firstly, it utilizes the classic MMO third-person character view. The pacing of the game is slower and more strategic compared to a shooter – you don’t die instantly from a single bullet, allowing for more tactical gameplay and decision-making.

“Persist Online is definitely not a shooter; it is a fully-fledged MMORPG with a rich set of features that distinguish it from typical survival shooters.” -CipSoft’s Benjamin Zuckerer
The core idea is quite simple – you start in a safe bunker and then begin to explore the dangerous open world. You will meet undead, mutants, NPC factions, and, of course, other players. You can loot houses, defeat enemies, and harvest resources with different tools. Then, either use the items yourself, trade them, or recycle them for raw materials in the bunker – if you manage to return them there. Your character will gain experience from killing enemies or completing quests. There is a skill system to progress your character over time and adapt to your playstyle.

The game has a persistent game world. It’s not session-based and supports hundreds of players at the same time. We want players to explore the world and its dangers, but we don’t want them to lose all of their progress when they make a mistake. Persist Online keeps the thrill and adrenaline rush when you meet another player. You don’t know if they’re hostile or friendly. Is it a good idea to sneak away, or is it better to fight for the great looting spot? It’s this excitement that creates player-driven stories.

Persist Online is much more of an MMORPG than a survival game. It combines the thrill of survival with the depth and persistence of an MMORPG, offering a unique and engaging experience that goes far beyond the scope of traditional survival shooters.

Can you discuss what persistence will bring to the game – are we looking at world-changeability on each server, faction grinding, character leveling and progression?

As in most MMOs, character progression is the game’s core. You can develop your character’s skills over time and choose from 25 different skill trees and 250 skills. Players have the freedom to create characters that fit their playstyle. In addition, we have a family system, allowing players to have multiple characters. Players can build themselves a name and switch between different characters to tackle various challenges. One perhaps specializing in rifles and another in woodworking.

You will encounter multiple NPC factions in the game world, often living in fortified strongholds. Your faction standing can vary from hated, where faction members will attack you on sight, to exalted, where they are friendly towards you and grant access to quests and other gameplay features within their stronghold. As the factions live in the world, your standing with them has consequences. For instance, some streets may be safe to travel for players with good standing, while others might need to take a detour to avoid hostile factions. This dynamic creates a strategic element in navigating the world, as players must consider their relationships with various factions to safely and effectively travel around. Players can play together loosely in parties or organized in guilds. They can fight over control of claims across the world, giving them easier access to resources and sometimes even other game mechanics. So you also have to ensure whose territory you are walking, scavenging, and looting on. Or live with the consequences.

How many people are able to play on the same persistent server?

We want to support a few hundred concurrent players on each server. This will depend on how the performance works out as we add new features along the way. But it will definitely be an MMO experience, not just for a few players.

The game obviously has a PvP (PvPvE?) focus – is there any PvE available other than mutual zombie destruction?

Absolutely. Persist Online is designed with PvP in mind but offers plenty of other activities. Not everybody wants the thrill and danger all the time, right? There will be lots of quests available at the stronghold’s factions, where players can discover the game’s lore and uncover the stories behind the post-apocalyptic world. The quests can range from simple tasks to complex, multi-part missions that can take players across different regions.

The open world is also ideal for exploration. The whole world is handcrafted, and the team has added many great details and Easter eggs across the different biomes. Every building can be entered, and every room is furnished and can be looted—if the building is not already destroyed. We are also planning events for players in the world, where they have to team up to fight against dangers that suddenly arise. We also have complex boss fights that require coordinated team efforts to survive.

The game’s environment itself presents challenges through its day-night cycle and weather system, which affect visibility, enemy behavior, and resource availability. Players must adapt their strategies based on these changing conditions.

Can the devs discuss the crafting system? What about building mechanics? Are there other non-combat skills than fishing?

We don’t have the classic building mechanics that many survival games have. This is mainly due to the persistent game world and our support for hundreds of players. The player’s bunker can, however, be upgraded with resources gathered from their adventures. The bunker is a safe haven, separated from the dangers of the open world. Players can unlock new gameplay features there, making it possible to craft items of higher quality or provide access to more storage.

The crafting system requires raw materials. You gain these by dismantling items you looted or harvested in the game world. You cannot craft every item at once. You will need to inspect an existing item you own (destroying it in the process) to receive the blueprints. This will enable you to craft the item. Our loot system creates items with a wide variety. They can have different quality grades, different stats, and mods that enable cool features. Together with the skill system, this gives players room for optimization and the need to trade with others.

Why did the team decide to go with zombies? I ask because zombies were a big deal 5-10 years ago but have fallen off in popularity in favor of other fads in recent years. Do you think it’s time for a revival?

We think we are doing something quite new here with Persist Online. A persistent game world full of zombies and mutants, with players fighting for their own survival and teaming up to gain control and advantages. And let’s be honest – zombies never really grow old, right? And we also have mutants for more variety in gameplay.

In our opinion, the genre hasn’t changed much lately and we wanted to play a game with permanent progress, where all our achievements are not lost on death or session end. Persist Online is trying to achieve that. It combines the threat and thrill of survival with a rich, persistent world in a real MMORPG.

When I first read about Persist Online, my first thought was that this is the game that H1Z1 always wanted to be before it went much further down the battle royale road. What specific games inspired the devs?

We absolutely loved the idea of H1Z1 and what Daybreak had envisioned for it. When we had the initial idea for Persist Online, we discussed where the survival and Battle Royale genres could be heading in the next few years. One of the options for us was to create a version where the game world was persistent, and player progress was not lost, moving away from session-based gameplay towards an MMO.

Titles like DayZ, Rust, and Escape from Tarkov have significantly influenced our focus on player-driven stories and high-stakes gameplay. We admired how these games created tense, unpredictable environments and wanted to merge those elements with the persistent world and RPG mechanics seen in traditional MMOs.

Additionally, we drew inspiration from classic MMORPGs, including our own Tibia, to ensure that Persist Online retained the depth and community focus that make MMOs so engaging. The sense of exploration, the importance of player relationships, and the ongoing character progression from these classic titles helped shape our vision for Persist Online. By combining these elements, we aim to create a unique blend of survival and MMO gameplay that stands out.

Are you aiming to convert the Tibia faithful or hoping to branch out with the more 3-D survival/PvP style? What would you say are the other MMOs and online games that the ideal Persist Online player plays?

While we certainly hope that fans of Tibia will find elements to love in Persist Online, our primary goal is to reach a broader audience that enjoys PvP and sandbox-style games. We’re looking to attract players who appreciate the strategic depth and community-driven aspects of traditional MMOs but who are also drawn to the action-oriented gameplay of survival titles. Ideal Persist Online players might also enjoy games like ARK: Survival Evolved, Conan Exiles, or The Division, where exploration, player interaction, and dynamic environments are key components of the experience.

We’d like to thank CipSoft’s Benjamin Zuckerer for chatting with us! We don’t have a launch window yet for the game, but you can already check out the official site and wishlist it on Steam.
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