It’s not every day you get to sit down with a game developer, see them shape an upcoming genre, and build something for experts and casuals alike. But, LuGus seems to be managing just that with their upcoming game, Liftoff, a drone racing flight-sim that offers a wide variety of game modes. We had the pleasure of talking to Co-founders Kevin Haelterman and Tom Lissens at Gamescom 2018.
Drone Racing is a sport that is becoming more and more popular by the month, with national and international competitions being held on a regular basis. You could say it is following a similar trend to e-sports. The sport isn’t huge just yet, but it’s gaining ground quickly. What further proof do you need than when people start making video games about it, right? Let the evidence of Football, Basketball, Car Racing, and American Football games speak for itself. So, when Kevin and Tom started talking about Liftoff and how it not only aims to entertain gamers but also support actual drone pilots with testing, we got very excited to see the game in action.
For the demonstration, they showed us the Free Flight mode where we select a map and start flying. They chose a golf course and the game started. It starts off with your character putting on its pilot goggles. This is actually something drone racer pilots use, Kevin said. The goggles show them the camera feed of the drone and that is how they race. In the game, you default to a first-person view but you can switch to a third person view.
This is something mostly done by gamers, they admitted to us, but true drone pilots stick to the first person view. We got to use a special controller that is used for real drone racing. There were fancy joysticks that would stay in position, which is a much-needed feature in a game like this. My liftoff was a bit shaky and I crashed rather quickly, but after a few short seconds I got the hang of it. Jussa also tried his hands at it and was admittedly way better, even doing a smooth barrel roll. Below is a video we created during our meeting where you can see some actual flight footage.
Liftoff offers a lot of modes which I will list later in this article, but for now I want to concentrate on something else. This is something that car fanatics know all too well in the Forza series, which is the ability to fully customize your drone. And when I say fully, I mean fully. Like in the Forza games, the level of customization is almost overwhelming to all but an expert. In Forza, if you know what your doing you’ll improve your car, and if you don’t… chances are you might make it slower. In Liftoff, the attention to detail is amazing and I believe any and all drone lovers are going to want to put some serious time into modifying their drone to their liking. Besides the actual modifications for benefits, you can also customize your drone’s appearance.
LuGus mentioned that people can customize their drones and share them with the community. Anyone can download and use another player’s design. In tournaments, you can even see which drone someone used and how they customized it. It’s a good opportunity for people to catch up to the competition by seeing what the top pilots use.
Liftoff includes more modes than just Free Flight. In the Tutorial mode, you can learn how to pilot a drone. This is actually used to train for real-life piloting, as the mechanics are the same. Race is where you want to go if you like competition and want to beat other pilots. The game offers both Solo and Multiplayer options. The Free Style mode is where pilots try to perform their best tricks in the air, gaining points on every completed trick.
And for all those Trackmania fans out there, Liftoff also offers a fully fledged track builder where you can create your own racetracks and share them with the rest of the world. So far, almost 3,000 tracks have already been installed by the Liftoff community.
Some more features of the game that we did not talk about extensively, but are still worthy of sharing are listed below.
Packed With Content: Since the game was revealed, LuGus Studios have evolved Liftoff through 85 updates, integrated 21 real-life drone frames, and built 14 environments for racers to explore.
Liftoff Pro-League: Competitive league system, weekly tournaments with prize wins and global leader boards completely integrated into the Liftoff community.
Hardware Support: Liftoff supports the use of FPV goggles and a wide range of controllers and remotes to completely blur the line between reality & the game, immersing players at the forefront of the racing action like never before.
Liftoff has been in Early access since 2016, has been picked up by over 80.000 pilots from 127 countries, and is now finally going into full launch. As of September 13, 2018, you can pick up Liftoff for only 20 Euro/USD.
We will post some more information on Liftoff closer to launch, so keep an eye out on our website!