Rooster Teeth has built a business on creating content using other games. Its show, "Red vs. Blue," was hugely successful and created a sprawling content company that produces original content such as "RWBY" and streaming "Let's Play" shows.
Rooster Teeth is coming back to where it started by going into game development. A company that was inspired by video games is making its own, and the first major title since the "RWBY: Grimm Eclipse" video game is "Vicious Circle."
The asymmetrical, multiplayer game will draw comparisons to "Evolve." Turtle Rock Studios' project was ahead of its time with compelling ideas that would have made a great streaming game if the concept was mainstream back in 2015. The idea of four hunters battling a singular powerful monster has a compelling hook.
The Rooster Teeth team takes that concept and speeds it up into 3-to-5-minute rounds. It also adds major twists with the idea that there can be only one winner for each engagement. That means everyone is out for himself. There's no 4 versus 1. It's essentially a free-for-all with one major caveat — players can't directly harm each other, but the monster can hurt everyone.
The goal of "Vicious Circle" is for the mercenaries to collect "nuggets" that are attached to zitlike tumors. Players have to break them by shooting or striking them to grab the valuable cargo. The mercs have to gather at least 75 of them and then head to one of two evacuation points to warp away.
They don't have to worry about being shot to death by teammates because weapons can't hurt them, but rivals can steal nuggets by tossing gadgets that suck out or dislodge the items. Mercenaries can also find ways to indirectly get rivals killed.
That's where the monster comes in. One player takes control of the creature and attacks the mercenaries gathering the nuggets. To win a round, the monster has to kill all the mercs. What's interesting is that every hunter has one life. If they die, they turn into creatures called Lil' Dippers. These monsters have low health but they are agile. If they die, players can respawn. The one ability that makes up for their weaknesses is the power to take over a mercenary's body. This essentially kills the opponent and brings a dead player back into the game. They can do this repeatedly as long as the mercenary's body remains intact and is not shredded by the monster. It creates a combative dynamic in which players are constantly trying to back-stab each other.
It's one of the reasons Rooster Teeth is calling "Vicious Circle" an uncooperative shooter game. Because only one person can win, players are always looking for an edge among the different avenues of victory.
Some may find it in the gadgets that spawn throughout the map. Others may discover it in the random events that offer an opportunity to gather nuggets. One such scenario involves a pinata-like sack that warps into the map and drops the valuable cargo. Another may include an item that spews out nuggets but also makes the carrier a target for fellow mercs and the monster.
The way "Vicious Circle" ebbs and flows is reminiscent of "Mario Kart." Players are never truly out of a contest, and the Lil' Dipper mechanic allows them to make a comeback if they die. A gadget like the vacuum can steal a chunk of nuggets, letting another player catch up. Even if two rivals have the requisite 75 nuggets to be teleported, they have to clear out the other from the evac zone before it activates. That's done by punching them out of the circle or using a gadget like the Port-a-Pal, a teleportation grenade.
With all the chaos and potential for grief, "Vicious Circle" could destroy plenty of friendships. It's a game that could provoke plenty of bitterness in relationships. It's also a title that's shaping up to be a stream-friendly game, so players can see all that drama unfold. It's a game that will feel right at home with Rooster Teeth's other properties when it comes out.
Expect the game to come out with four maps, four mercenaries and two monsters, a chicken named Peggy Sue and the Lil' Dippers. More content and characters will likely be added in the future.
"Vicious Circle" releases in August.