Burnout creators Alex Ward and Fiona Sperry have lifted the lid on Dangerous Golf, their first game since leaving Criterion and forming independent studio Three Fields Entertainment.
Due for release digitally on PS4, Xbox One and PC this May, Dangerous Golf switches serious golfing for explosive, destructive fun, tasking players with pulling off trick shots while causing as much damage as possible.
Rather than aiming for par, players must instead rack up their score by destroying items, bouncing off walls, and landing the ball as far away from the hole as possible. Once you've destroyed enough stuff you'll be able turn your ball into a bomb and set off a SmashBreaker - a nod to Burnout 3's CrashBreaker - and continue guiding it around the course, destroying more objects and boosting your score.
"[Dangerous Golf is] as serious a golf game as Burnout was a serious simulation to driving games," said founder and creative director of Three Fields Entertainment Alex Ward. "We wanted to mix the attitude of Burnout with the destruction of Black whilst setting the golf ball on fire -- a nod to NBA Jam."
Four indoor and outdoor locations will be included at launch, including a medieval castle, a hotel kitchen, a palace ballroom, and a petrol station which, naturally, Ward says, "you can blow up".
"It's very inspired by NBA Jam, which is a great, great sports game and something I still think about a lot," Ward told us in an exclusive interview last week. "Obviously you're going to set the ball on fire and cause a load of destruction. It's just fun and silly and different, and it might be strangely familiar to some people who know our stuff."
He continued: "In real golf you would probably really think about where [the ball is] going to go and try and land as near to the flag as possible. In our game you get more points if you deliberately land it as far away from the hole as possible, turn your back on the flag [and] bang it in the wall."
As well as a single-player option, local and online turn-based multiplayer will also be included.
"We're very big on connected play, so there's online leaderboards," adds Ward. "There's a lot of stuff obviously that wasn't invented back when we started Crash mode back then. We like playing for score, we're arcade game fans, we've made arcade games our whole life. So we like playing for high score, we like competing against our friends. We've got a MAME cabinet in the office. We're constantly playing stuff, and high score is a big driver, certainly for me and the guys on the team here. Beating each other's scores, finding secrets and rewards. That's always been in our DNA."
But Three Fields has ambitions for Dangerous Golf to be more than just a "fun, silly golf game", with the team having worked closely with Epic and Nvidia to help "push the boundaries of a physics-based game" and start preparing tech for the next-generation of consoles.
"We've worked really closely for the past couple of years with Epic, not just [in the UK] but in various locations around the world, and also with Nvidia, again various locations around the world from Gateshead to New Zealand, working with some real technical geniuses," Ward continues. "We set out to push the boundaries of a physics-based game and just start to prepare for the next generation of machines whenever they come to try and be a small developer but be on the cutting edge of tools and technology. To dream big and try and push the boundaries."
The result, the developer says, is the opportunity to smash "thousands of physically simulated rigid body valuables, shatter priceless heirlooms into small pieces and paint the environments with physically simulated liquids".
"When we were doing multiplatform games with a fixed end date, you would always de-risk the project as much as possible, which meant you couldn't do anything special on each [platform]," Ward says of his time at Criterion. "But now we're an independent company we're targeting very, very high-end PC. We've got an incredibly powerful dual-Titan X-powered machine here we've been developing on.
"The guys here are mostly ex-Criterion. We have some ex-Disney and Ubisoft as well. We've always been about pushing the hardware as hard as we can, going right back to PlayStation 2, so we want to push hardware really hard and pull out all of the stops on all of the versions we're making."
And if Dangerous Golf is a success, Three Fields intends to follow it up with a spiritual successor to classic PS2/Xbox racer Burnout 3: Takedown.
"We've been talking about [a new racing game] on and off for the past probably 4 or 5 years," he says, "so yeah, we know exactly what to do... It's probably going to involve driving really fast and hitting things."
Dangerous Golf launches on PS4, Xbox One and PC digitally this May. A price has yet to be announced.
For more information on the game, Three Fields and the reason why Ward and Sperry left Criterion, head through to the full interview.