Last Epoch is an upcoming indie fantasy Action RPG, focusing heavily on player customization to determine how the game is played. Everything, from your class, your skills, your equipment combination, and even the crafting of that equipment – it’s all left to the hands of the player. You begin with one of five base classes and a weapon, and as you progress, you earn your first pieces of armor and begin on a track towards your mastery class of choice. Eleventh Hour Games says that their final vision for their first game features both singleplayer and online multiplayer play.
All of this is fantastic, wonderful, even, but what really sets Last Epoch apart from the crowd is one of the core mechanics of the game. Not only are you slashing, casting, and leveling your way through opponents of all kinds, but you’re doing it while you travel through time to four different time periods of the same setting, unraveling the story of the world around you as the void slowly overtakes it.
I got the opportunity to talk with a member of Eleventh Hour’s team, and discuss their game.
Me: What is your name, and what is your part in the development process?
Rob: My name is Rob Benson, the community knows me as Leroyrobenson. I do a lot of the community management, event planning, reveals, teasers, trailers. I also am the composer on the project, so I’m writing all the music for it, and I have been playing with sound effects a bit.
Me: Neat, alright! I’ll start with a more general question. What are your favorite games?
Rob: Ooh, top five would have to be… Chrono Trigger, Diablo II, Final Fantasy Tactics… Gotta go with World of Warcraft, old school there… Fifth one […] would have to be Overwatch right now, I’ve been into Overwatch lately.
Me: Me too! All good picks. Do you have a main in Overwatch?
Rob: I have the most hours in Mercy and Lucio, Mercy, Lucio and Pharah, and a lot of hours in Winston lately.
Me: Interesting, I like it! I’m not sure if you’ll know the answer to this one, but I’ll ask anyway: Where did the name Last Epoch come from?
Rob: Actually, Chrono Trigger. A lot of us are huge Chrono Trigger fans. The ship in Chrono Trigger is called the Epoch, and it means “a moment in time, or an era.” So the “epoch” in the game [Last Epoch] is actually an artifact that controls the very essence and flow of time. And you find that, and that’s how the time travel occurs in the game, but it’s the last one of those artifacts – so, hence, the Last Epoch.
Me: That’s really cool, I was not expecting that.
Rob: Yeah, we’ve known that for a really long time, we just don’t know what the epoch looks like yet.
Me: That’s awesome. What is the coolest part of Last Epoch, in your opinion?
Rob: I’d say our class identity. A lot of games just, you have a class, and you play that class, and so your skills kinda revolve around that class, or there’s a lot of ambiguity with the classes. We have a very solid “class identity,” and what I mean by that is, our skills grow with you. They have their own skill trees, so you get to pick and choose and play how you want. All of the armor reflects that, obviously, and so our classes would pass a silhouette test. Like, if you put them up next to each other, you’d be like “Oh, that’s the mage, that’s the void knight,” etcetera. And they’re all themed within each other. The choices you make impact how the class works, and it’s very crucial to the identity of the class that it happens that way.
Me: That leads perfectly into my next question, which is, do you have a favorite class in Last Epoch?
Rob: Yes, but it won’t be until June. It’s the necromancer, and it’s the class I play in every game that has a necromancer, that has ever existed since the dawn of existence.
Me: Is there a reason you favor that class so much?
Rob: I like the nitty-gritty blood-and-bone aspect, the construct aspect of, you know, you’re making these skeletons to go do your bidding, sort of the evil puppetmaster? Maybe not evil, I don’t know, you don’t have to be evil, there could be good necromancers I guess. Just that… I like the playstyle a lot.
Me: Alright, I can dig it! For you, what has the development process been like? I know you guys are very busy.
Rob: It’s been very crazy. Sometimes I go back, and we have a build from April, from when we started a year ago, and I look at the game, and I look at it now, and it’s kind of a whirlwind, it’s crazy how fast it’s gone? Yeah, it’s just fast, that’s a good word for it.
Me: Were you involved in the start of the project? You said it was a year ago?
Rob: I think I was the third or fourth member on the team.
Me: So were you there when it rose up, do you know the backstory of “Hey, why don’t we make a game?” That’s kind of a big decision, you know?
Rob: Yeah, so Judd, the game director […], he was just like “I’ve had it, I want to make a video game.” So he started, with Kyle. He’s the “loremaster,” the person that’s writing all the stories. They got together and they’re like, “what can we do?” So they started posting on Reddit, in various forums, they found me on the Path of Exile Reddit. I posted my music, and they were like “cool, you’re in,” and I’ve been here ever since.
Me: So the internet really brought you guys together, huh?
Rob: Yeah, and it’s keeping us together.
Me: Wonderful. What inspires your work?
Rob: My work personally? […] I’ve played video games my entire life. I grew up with my mom teaching me how to play video games, that’s how we bonded, and music has always stood out to me, even before I became a musician. I love the study of music, anywhere from classical composers to current-day video game composers, just how music evokes certain things that no other medium can. And when you combine it with the medium of video games, it’s just a really interesting and unique combination of – I don’t want to say “emotional manipulation,” but it is a little bit, because we want you to… As composers for things, we want you to feel a certain way when something happens, so the music has to reflect that. So studying other musicians and composers, especially video game stuff, like Chrono Trigger, it’s my all-time favorite soundtrack… the emotions that it evokes, and just being inspired by that, it’s… there’s nothing quite like it.
Me: My last question to close us out here is… What is your vision for Last Epoch, moving forward?
Rob: We want to essentially just create an ARPG that the community’s going to love, that’s going to find a nice spot in the current ARPG trend, that will continue to grow and be sustained, inevitably if we can, and eventually we want to make other games from this studio.
Thank you to Rob for taking the time to talk about his work, and to Eleventh Hour Games for their dedicated work on this wonderful game.
If you’re interested in helping make this game a reality, check out their Kickstarter page, where they have a development build you can download and play, and consider supporting them. For more information on the lore and the team behind it all, check out their website, lastepochgame.com.