Speaking with Hauke Gerdes: "Coreborn will Become 2x Larger than Skyrim."

Published: Apr. 27, 2023
Updated: Apr. 26, 2024

German English

Attention all gaming enthusiasts: Coreborn: Nations of the Ultracore, the engaging social survival MMO by Blankhans, appears to be an exciting journey! Our writer Sascha Asendorf had a conversation with Creative Director Hauke Gerdes in Japan, discovering what sets this game apart and what to anticipate from this ambitious endeavor.

To give you the scoop: During my visit to Japan, I seized the opportunity to have a coffee and chat with Hauke Gerdes, the Creative Director behind Coreborn, discussing the latest project from Studio Blankhans. The insights I gained are already quite intriguing.

Who's Behind the Development of Coreborn?

Coreborn is being developed by a 35-member team at Blankhans, comprising industry experts who have contributed to renowned titles such as Sea of Thieves, Cyberpunk, The Witcher, The Sims, and many others.

Established in April 2021, the studio was co-founded by Markus Schneider (Publishing & Managing Director), Hauke Gerdes (Creative Director), and René Rieck (Executive Producer & Managing Director). The development team is dispersed globally, working remotely. Hauke states that this arrangement is highly effective, and enthusiasts can keep track of the consistent progress through regular devblogs on the Steam page, providing transparency to the development process.

The Team of Blankhans

United in their vision, the team aims to advance the survival genre by concentrating on social gameplay and interactions among all players, rather than just those on their own server. Despite being a new indie studio, Blankhans boasts considerable experience and ambitious goals.

Introducing Coreborn: Nations of the Ultracore

Please note: Coreborn is set to enter Early Access later this year. Not all features mentioned here will be available during Early Access. Coreborn is in an early alpha stage right now, with its fundamental gameplay available, but changes are still possible.

A brief overview of Coreborn: Coreborn is a social survival MMO where players can independently or collaboratively build their towns on a survival map. Regular defense against attacking monsters is required. Players gather resources, craft items, and embark on adventures with others, which can be likened to dungeons. Coreborn will not include PvP - players can only assist each other.

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Upon initial observation, it may not seem like the game offers exceptional content to keep players engaged long-term. However, it's the finer details that piqued my curiosity.

What exactly is a social survival MMO? The term might seem unfamiliar at first. Blankhans doesn't believe the label "MMO" is entirely suitable, as Coreborn involves playing with other players but not with thousands in the same world. Nonetheless, since the term "MMO" is now applied to numerous small multiplayer titles, fans and media have also begun classifying Coreborn as an MMO. Blankhans has come to accept this and now officially designates Coreborn as an MMO.

The emphasis is undeniably on the social aspect of the genre. The social element takes center stage as Coreborn will exclusively offer PvE content and won't allow players to battle each other. Players are encouraged to interact, trade, and embark on adventures together. The server technology facilitates this; Blankhans provide all servers, and players are automatically allocated to a suitable server. Players can also switch to join their friends or meet most players in Coreheim, the player hub, ensuring a constant flow of players.

Hauke states, "For us, this is a logical evolution of the survival genre."

Coreborn's Survival Elements

As you gather resources on the survival map, craft items like equipment, weapons, and other gadgets, and expand your town with your structures, a subtle survival atmosphere emerges. This is precisely what you experience in other survival games.

Consuming food and drinks, which can be found or crafted, is intended to provide health or stamina buffs. Instead of penalizing players for not eating or drinking, the game rewards those who do, akin to the popular survival game Valheim.

Additional survival elements manifest not directly in the character, but indirectly through the world itself. Weather plays a crucial role, impacting monsters, resources, buildings, and more. For instance, storms may inflict damage on buildings and players, while a cold front in mountainous regions could be harsh on your character.

A significant feature in the game is the district system, which can be considered biomes from other games. Districts have an impact on various aspects, such as:

  • Weather
  • Temperature
  • Monster spawns
  • Resource spawns
  • Events
  • Environmental effects
  • Status effects
  • And much more

Districts are intricate and not easy to describe. Furthermore, they are still being developed and fine-tuned. We will delve into the districts in greater detail later; this brief overview will suffice for now.

Races and the World of Coreborn

Coreborn's world begins with two areas, expanding to seven during Early Access. Coreheim, the player hub, is situated in the center and encircled by the other six areas. Collectively, they constitute the world of Tormentosia. A distinct race inhabits each peripheral area. Early Access commences with Coreheim, Ambros, and the Hedonist people, with the Liquid Meadows coming up next.

Race Region
Hedonist Ambros
Sauromancer Litikal Plains
Nosmerians Asciliath
Steam Dwarfs Ash Mountains
Children of the Source The Luiqid Meadow
Genetics Initos
- Coreheim

Once all areas are accessible, the game world is expected to be twice the size of Skyrim's map, approximately 70 km². However, that's not the limit. More peripheral areas and corresponding races may be introduced after the full release.

Fans of the Rocketbeans Ultracore Pen & Paper from Germany can anticipate various Easter Eggs within the game world. Although Coreborn takes place around 200 years prior to the events of the pen & paper RPG, many possibilities exist in Coreborn, and the appearance of the Beans' characters is not entirely improbable.

Understanding Weapon Crafting and Gimmicks - my Personal Highlight

Are you familiar with the thrill of combining specific items in games like Diablo to create incredible synergies? I could spend hours figuring out and experimenting with the best item combinations, and that's precisely what could happen in Coreborn - but in a different way than you might imagine.

In the beginning, you only have one sword to choose from. But that will change.

Weapon Crafting: Let's discuss weapon crafting in Coreborn, as it promises to be impressive. Each weapon comprises three parts; for a sword, these are the blade, the hilt, and the shaft. Each part must be crafted individually and has unique stats. The stats are randomly assigned during production but may be customizable later using an item.

The remarkable aspect here is the interplay of materials. If you construct the weapon parts entirely out of iron, the stats might be superior, but your weapon will be pretty heavy. Therefore, if you prefer agility, you should create a lighter weapon. You can also craft parts from various materials to establish a specific balance, such as an iron blade with a wooden hilt and shaft. This encourages experimentation and accommodates diverse play styles.

The concept is similar to armor. Although it doesn't consist of separate parts, you can, for example, wear an iron breastplate while having fiber pants. If you want to be a tank, all your gear will be made of iron, but you'll be less agile and let enemies hit you instead of skillfully dodging their attacks. This design caters to every play style, allowing players to discover the perfect synergy between armor and weapon components.

Gimmicks: As the game evolves, gimmicks are intended to add further depth. Hauke informed me that each player can equip two gimmicks – items with unique properties. One of the two gimmicks is always linked to your race, while the other can be freely chosen.

"Gimmicks are basically, if you're all heretical, something like a second weapon. This is usually an AOE effect that has symbiosis with the environment and/or other players in one or more ways. Examples would be an exploding beer barrel that I throw into the enemy group and our ranged fighter then shoots it and makes it explode. Or an aqua ball that someone twirls a two-handed sword through, casting healing on the entire team nearby.

Each character can unlock all of these gimmicks, but only have two of them on them at any given time (that's the current plan). One of them is appropriate to the character's race, the other is freely selectable."

Adventures Aim to Provide Long-Term Engagement – But What are They?

Adventures are instanced, enjoyable group experiences that may remind many players of dungeons. However, they can range from monster-filled caves to hide-and-seek mini-games. At the end of an adventure, players can obtain rare loot to enhance their base or trade with others in Coreheim, the capital city.

During Early Access launch, for instance, a horde mode will be available where players must fend off waves of enemies. Additional adventures will be introduced throughout Early Access and even after the 1.0 release. These adventures will be regularly rotated to ensure variety and maintain player interest.

Coreheim is where players meet and act.

Details About the Upcoming Early Access for Coreborn: Nations of the Ultracore

Early Access is expected to launch on Steam soon, definitely within this year. Following that, the Early Access phase is planned to last for 1 to 2 years, but this duration may be extended depending on community feedback and any challenges that arise.

During Early Access, Coreborn will cost approximately $20 to $30. For the 1.0 release, a Free-to-Play model is likely to be adopted, although the developers are still considering other ideas based on player feedback. Regardless of the final model chosen, Early Access owners will receive special rewards, such as cosmetic items.

Additional details:

  • Six playable races and their regions will be added throughout Early Access. However, only the Hedonist race will be available at the start.
  • Each race will have access to two weapons, but players can use all.
  • All fundamental features will be implemented and balanced.
  • More adventures and events will be introduced.

Who is the Target Audience for Coreborn?

Here, I'll quote Hauke Gerdes, who explained it perfectly:

"All individuals who enjoy playing with others are welcome, whether it's casually or in large, organized groups. Coreborn is at its most enjoyable when you invest time in building something meaningful and then sharing it with others. We continue to work on the game, provide content, and have established a framework that allows servers and communities to experience long-term enjoyment and new challenges.

You can already share your thoughts on these challenges on our Discord, and we will listen. If you enjoy playing with others, appreciate games like Valheim as well as classic MMOs, action combat, crafting, house building, and engaging battles, then Coreborn is the perfect game for you!"

Potential Future Developments for Coreborn: Modding, Expanded Map, and Additional Content

Studio Blankhans has numerous ideas they would like to bring to life. Particularly after the full release, the world of Coreborn will be continuously expanded if well-received by players. This includes enlarging the world, introducing new races and weapons, and planning more events.

Modding is also set to play a significant role after the full release, as desired by the developers. Players will then have the ability to create their own adventures and share them online. Upon completion of these custom adventures, players will receive rewards similar to the rewards earned in standard adventures.

This concept is reminiscent of the Foundry in Neverwinter, where players could design their own dungeons and make them available online. The tool gained considerable popularity, resulting in the creation of several engaging dungeons.

Nonetheless, the future of Coreborn remains uncertain. The focus may shift even during Early Access, and everything that follows the 1.0 release depends on the title's success. Blankhans is fully aware of this, and throughout the conversation with Hauke, it was evident that they know precisely what they are doing and what to anticipate from Early Access.

I'm eager to see what Coreborn has to offer, and we at Guided.news will continue to keep you updated.

Sascha Asendorf is the co-founder of Guided.news and has been running online magazines in the gaming sector since 2013. Starting with a strong focus on survival games, Sascha now deals a lot with role-playing games and is an expert on survival and RPG titles like Conan Exiles, Baldurs Gate 3 & Cyberpunk 2077.
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