Image courtesy of Iron Galaxy Studios

Rumbleverse: the brawler royale laying the smackdown

With a swathe of battle royale games for multiplayer fans to choose from, it takes a special newcomer to burst into the arena and body slam the competition. Enter Rumbleverse, a battle to the last one standing with a difference—no guns, just fists, feet, and fighting moves.

Players are shot from a cannon into Grapital City, the arena for a huge city-wide brawl with 39 other combatants. The chaotic, melee-focused action that follows will have you Sumo slapping opponents from buildings one minute and giant swinging them into the sea the next.

In a pitched battle without firepower, success hinges on creating a hand-to-hand combat system that players find truly enjoyable. That’s why Iron Galaxy Studios, with its experience in delivering top-tier fighting games such as Killer Instinct, was the perfect developer for the job.

A brawler battle royale

Rumbleverse is a blend of fighting game and battle royale, expertly delivered by a studio with a wealth of experience developing AAA titles.

Iron Galaxy partners with some of the industry’s top developers to deliver features or ports for much-loved franchises like Borderlands, Bioshock, and The Elder Scrolls, as well as creating its own titles from the ground up.

Rumbleverse has been a studio passion project for the past four years, with around a hundred developers working on the game. One of those is Engineer Alicia Cano.

She explains that the team started out with a specific goal: to create a social, competitive experience that brought some joy back to multiplayer gaming. “From there, we created a new world in which the game could take place and built new networking models to support a city-wide fight,” she says.
The absence of firearms is one of the key aspects that sets Rumbleverse apart from other titles in the battle royale genre. Iron Galaxy was able to take the lessons learned from developing the combat system in the iconic fighting game Killer Instinct and apply them to Rumbleverse.

Rumbleverse benefits a lot from our accomplishments in creating fighting games, but it elaborates on the experience,” says Cano. “We wanted to open the competition to so many more people. It gets a lot more complicated to balance combat when the environment embraces so much verticality.”

She adds that this element of verticality brings a myriad of different ways for other players to surprise you with their approach to the fight. “Some of our most dangerous teammates in playtest were people who have enjoyed platforming games as well.”
Image courtesy of Iron Galaxy Studios

Creating a brawler combat system

In many ways, Iron Galaxy has broken new ground with Rumbleverse. With guns out the window, the team needed to find ways to ensure the attacking moves would be fresh and engaging.

Cano describes an eye-opening journey as the team worked to uncover the most playable approach to the fighting in the game.“The combat in Rumbleverse is a product of lots of playtesting,” she says. “We discovered this game and iterated on it together. The goal was to give everyone a fighting chance in an environment that was as fun as it was chaotic.”
Image courtesy of Iron Galaxy Studios
The team also took pains to give players as much creative freedom as possible when it comes to personalizing their wrestler. “Character customization is one of the most important aspects of Rumbleverse,” says Cano. “We’re inviting every player to create a Rumbler who is as unique as they are. We’re not locking people to a single skin. People can mix and match the gear and accessories to design a reflection of who they are or who they want to be.”
Image courtesy of Iron Galaxy Studios
As the team found, however, developing a multiplayer game of this scope is no mean feat. Cano notes that some of their biggest challenges on the project were around effectively testing a game that can be run on five platforms, in several modes, with several different types of player accounts, in match sizes that can include up to 40 players. “This is something we’re still struggling with, but developing better automation and testing tools for our devs to simulate play has helped,” she says.

Iron Galaxy developed Rumbleverse using Unreal Engine. The team has a lot of prior experience using the engine, and have a range of in-house Unreal Engine plugins they developed for previous projects. “That, combined with Unreal’s features like optimization tooling, visual scripting, and cross-platform support, made it an easy choice for us,” says Cano.

The engineer also adds that Unreal Engine’s optimization tools were particularly useful on the project. “Whether it‘s visualizing computationally expensive draw calls, looking at CPU performance, or examining our game’s memory, Unreal Engine has a strong toolset,” she says. “Also, Unreal has a strong developer community and helpful forums.”
Image courtesy of Iron Galaxy Studios

More fun and chaos to come

Packed full of humor and with a whimsical cartoony style, Rumbleverse captures the fun spirit of old-school games in a way few other titles have managed to achieve. That has already led to the game attracting a passionate community. Cano says that Rumbleverse’s future direction will be influenced to a large degree by feedback from this loyal fanbase.

“We want Rumbleverse to grow and change over time,” she says. “From one season to the next, we’ll have a chance to surprise players all over again. We’ll have new ways for them to play and win fights. This is just the beginning!”

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