There’s a new Returnal trailer detailing some of the enemy design. The game is about 2 weeks out, the more I see of it the more interested I am! I’m likely going to pick it up on launch, barring any performance issues.
There’s also a PlayStation blog entry about the game here.
When creating the organic enemies of Returnal, one of the biggest sources of inspiration for me was looking at bioluminescent deep-sea creatures. In many ways they felt like the most alien lifeforms one could find here on Earth. There is something inherently unsettling and foreign about the deep-sea as an environment for us. The way these creatures move deep underwater, with their long tentacles and bioluminescent highlights, can often appear majestic, beautiful and downright terrifying. It’s also not uncommon for these creatures to use their luminous beauty to allure or distract their prey (for example, with a dazzling display of bioluminescence), and suddenly strike when their prey is least expecting it. This combination of chaotic beauty and nightmarish aggression was something we aimed to capture with our organic creatures’ aesthetic.
Towards this purpose we ended up creating our own special VFX-driven tentacle tech and used it very liberally. These fully dynamic elements bring that chaotic beauty to the enemies we were after, and also created some really satisfying feedback for players as well.
For instance, the bioluminescent emissives on tentacles are strongly highlighted to telegraph oncoming attacks and provide satisfying hit reactions when enemies are shot (or when an enemy is killed, where they blow up in a glorious explosion of severed tentacles). The strong emissive highlights also connect back to our Bullet Hell attacks, where our projectiles naturally inherit this vibrant “energy signature” from our enemies, to create a cohesive aesthetic that strongly reinforces our gameplay intent as well.