DEV DIARIES | SENIOR PRODUCER STEVE ARCHER ON CROSS-PLAY AND THE END OF SEASON 3

We understand that Zombie Army 4 will now support cross-play between PlayStation and PC players. That’s awesome. Can you tell us why this is such great news for our players?

Times have changed and so have players’ expectations of how they interact with their favourite multiplayer games, especially those built upon strong co-op play. As part of our post-launch commitment to Zombie Army 4, we are extremely excited to have implemented cross-play.

Many players who play online would prefer to play co-op with friends but this is not always possible due to being on different platforms. Adding cross-play support to PlayStation brings friends closer together with those playing on the different PC storefronts. The new cross-play functionality lets you team up with friends so much easier to enjoy the Zombie Army blood bath, which is a massive improvement to the user experience, and levels of satisfaction.

What kind of challenges did you face in enabling cross-play for Zombie Army 4?

When we started considering the idea of adding cross-play to ZA4, I remember reading an article where it said developers had ‘no excuses’ for not adding cross-play to all multiplayer games due to the middleware being available. Sadly, it’s not that simple and, even though it gives us a great starting block, there is still a lot of work to be done to make this great feature work but also to make the sure that the user experience is what it should be.

Firstly, the console versions of the game had not been developed with cross-play in mind, so a lot of highly skilled work had to take place to ensure that we could develop this area of the game in isolation of developing new content and releasing regular updates. This resulted in us having to bring an additional QA team on-board to purely focus on cross-play allowing the main QA team to concentrate on getting those updates ready for launch.

Then there was voice and text chat support. We had to replace the current system that was built for PlayStation only with one that worked cross-platform and like cross-play this had to be implemented whilst we were releasing updates, so this was another task for our new QA team.

Additionally, ZA4 supports three PC storefronts so these are effectively treated as individual platforms that the game has to communicate with. This support has been part of our journey towards adding cross-play to PlayStation.

Will Zombie Army 4 support cross-platform chat?

Yes, PlayStation users will be able to voice chat in game with fellow PlayStation users and their co-op friends on PC. Cross-platform text chat is also available whilst in the lobbies.

Does the player have to do anything in-game to enable cross-platform play or does it just happen?

By default, cross-play is on so the player will not have to do anything once the update has been installed. We appreciate cross-play is not for everyone so we allow players to turn it off if that is their preference. In the lobby PlayStation players are clearly labelled with the PSN icon.

Does the update include any other cool improvements or tidbits?

This update also includes a new free Horde Map, where players will need to defend themselves against the relentless hordes of the undead, and escape the nefarious machine with sinister purpose, as the deadhunters find themselves stranded in Hell’s Cauldron - a perfect opportunity to give cross-play a blast with your mates!

As part of Season Pass 3, players can also show off with the latest cosmetics with the occult outfit for Karl, a new hat from the Strange Brigade headgear pack and wrap your weapons in some bandages. If you are looking for a new weapon then there is the blowtorch to make those zombies nice and crispy.

There has already been great post release support for Zombie Army 4. Is there anything more to come?

We have a dedicated team that purely focus on the post launch support of ZA4. Not only have we created lots of great new content, earlier in the year released a free update for PlayStation 5 that allowed us to deliver the realistic 4K visuals at a smooth 60FPS.

We have more content in development that is progressing well, along with an exciting announcement early next year, but it’s a little too early to talk about any of that at this moment in time.

With cross-play arriving to coincide with the conclusion of ZA4’s third season, it is time to draw breath and take stock of where we are. The primary focus for the remainder of the year is to improve a few things that have been on our wish list for a while and address feedback that we happily receive from the ZA4 community. 

PlayStation to PC cross-play and the free new Horde Map, Hell’s Cauldron, is now live!

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