When Kingmakers dropped their announcement trailer and started to showcase their game, I was completely blown away. The trailer started off relatively simple, showing what looked like a more traditional medieval strategy game. Then, out of nowhere, a guy driving a pickup truck transports in and starts running everyone over! He gets out and starts unleashing loads of bullets, grenades, and more into crowds of peasants and knights.

So, our first question is, of course, can it run on the Steam Deck? Well, the official Kingmakers account on X commented that one of their playtesters is reporting that it runs well on the Deck, which is amazing to hear! To follow up, I messaged the account and talked to lead developer Ian Fisch about the support and about the game itself. And after we talked, I walked away extremely happy and optimistic about the game and our ability to play on the go.

Steam Deck Support Is Being Looked At More Now

So, when I first brought up support for the Steam Deck, Ian mentioned that it wasn't even considered to test on it. But, after hearing about a playtester they have who claims performance was good on the Deck, it surprised the team. After getting this report, developer Redemption Roads will be looking at Steam Deck support and considering it much more during development of Kingmakers.

Ian brought up that they will be getting a Steam Deck OLED soon, and that once they put in further optimizations, it should perform really well.


They Are Open to Supporting All Upscalers

After that, I asked about upscalers, since a game of this magnitude with so much happening on screen must need a little boost. Ian told me that DLSS is already in the game, but that's about it right now. They are open to supporting any upscalers they can, limited only by the engine and version they are developing on. Kingmakers is on Unreal Engine 4.27, which means that FSR 2 could be implemented based on the AMD plugin page and their support, so we could see that as another optimization to increase performance on Deck.

As I am writing this, it hit me that this playtester actually had the game running on the Steam Deck, reporting it runs fine, AND there's no upscaling being used. It actually blows my mind a bit to think about a game like this running so well.

Kingmakers' Unique Animation Systems Takes a Load Off the Computer

In general, having so much happening on screen, with thousands of people all being rendered, can be an insane stressor on any computer or system. So, I asked about how they were able to make this happen without blowing up computers. And it all comes down to a custom animation system they have.

The system makes it so the CPU sees them as static meshes in their T-pose while the GPU runs a shader that plays the animation. While there are vertex animation shaders, the shader they use is much more complicated than the average. It supports skeletal features like 8-way walk blends and 4-way runs. They also implemented a way to seamlessly transition into traditional skeletal animation for more detailed animations when interacting with someone.


I asked about how many people could be on the screen at once, and according to Ian, they are limiting it to about 4,000 people for now, but he believes they could push it to 8,000 before the GPU crashes.

PvP Isn't Implemented, But It's Something They Want to See

One of the things that intrigued me even further about Kingmakers is the fact that there is online co-op. Seeing multiplayer being integrated to some degree, my mind went crazy with other multiplayer possibilities. One of the ideas that came to my mind was a competitive mode where both players had their own armies, and using the strategy and third-person shooter elements of the game, would manage their army and get into the battle to eliminate the enemy team. So, I asked about it!

Ian said that the team wants to support PvP for sure, but as of right now, getting the anti-cheat to work isn't so easy. So, we could definitely see PvP at some point, but as of right now, it hasn't been implemented yet.


Future Support is Planned, But The Game Will Be Complete At Launch

In this age of gaming, I have seen so many releases that felt like there was something missing, only to be added in later, either with patches or locked behind DLC. This is most common with some game modes, like New Game + or story elements that should have been there. Luckily, that doesn't seem like it will be a point of contention for Kingmakers.

I asked about future support for the game and if there will be any new content after release or if it will be a more fully featured package at launch. Ian mentioned that, while they will keep supporting it after launch, the game will be released as a complete experience, so they will be giving the best of both worlds.

Ian's Favorite Kingsmaker Gameplay Feature

Finally, I asked Ian about his favorite feature so far for Kingmakers, and he mentioned that he loves the way people and horses get shot and how they react. Now, he did mention he is a little biased since he's the one who programmed it, but as someone who loves physics-based interactions, I loved it, too. Seeing the way bodies flew when a horse was shot while it was moving or when the truck raced through everyone while they were fighting.


There's so much more I am curious about and want to ask, but with the game just announced, there's only so much I can know just yet. Regardless, I can't wait to see more when they are ready to show it, especially some uncut gameplay!

Kingmakers is available to wishlist on Steam and has a 2024 release date.

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Noah Kupetsky
A lover of gaming since 4, Noah has grown up with a love and passion for the industry. From there, he started to travel a lot and develop a joy for handheld and PC gaming. When the Steam Deck released, it just all clicked.
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