With the launch of the Tricksters update, War Robots: Frontiers received its second map—Mont. Crash Site provides the purest Robot warfare experience with its incredible scale and asymmetrical layout, while Mont is structured around a very distinct damage mechanic.
Explore the dangers and history of Mont in this Development Spotlight brought to you by Baz (Lead Level Designer) and Shredder-Blitz (Community Manager).
We began working on Mont as soon as the draft version of Crash Site started to transform into something playable and fun. The project now proudly stands at 11,000 completed tasks and the earliest mention of Mont dates all the way back to task #1287. If you guessed that back then the map didn’t look like anything you see on the live server today—-you guessed right.
In our initial concept, we built upon one thing—a huge insurmountable mountain right in the middle of the map, hence the name ‘Mont’. The mountain divides the area in half and holds one crucial beacon at its summit with a breathtaking view from the top.
One of the earliest blockouts. Notice anything familiar?
The prospect of an arduous ascent, as we viewed it, would dissuade the players from climbing the mountain slopes and make them fight for the special elevators on the periphery instead. If someone decided to go the hard way, we had stones, cliffs, and ground folds ready to provide cover. However, the initial tests shattered this concept to pieces. The playtesters didn’t use cover, nor did they fight for the elevators on the sides—-they headed straight for the mountaintop, hoping to reach the central beacon faster than their opponents and grumbling something about level design in the process. Why, you may ask? Well, that green dot on top of the orange ramp on the screenshot is actually a Raven Robot. So yeah, that’s quite a hike from the spawn area, and later in the match, you would probably have the enemy team firing at you from the high ground.
On paper, an elevator traveling straight to the mountain-top and two accelerator corridors on the sides were meant to be focal points necessary to win the summit beacon. Players would fight their way to them first and then proceed to the central beacon. In reality, playtesters chose to ignore the elevator and the corridors offered too little protection, turning your Robots into makeshift shooting galleries. We tried adding a wide tunnel with plenty of cover beneath the mountain to offer passage between the corridors and the elevator, but every fresh group of playtesters would choose the same route—climb to the top and pray you do not get shot. At this point, it was clear we needed to load a save.
With the first batch of drastic changes, the map lost most of its verticality. The mountain was razed to about half of its previous height, its slope became less cluttered, and the accelerator corridors became wider and faster. We even introduced teleports closer to the center of the map to allow quick travel through the mountain.
Not that much of a Mont anymore.
At this point, the map became truly playable for the first time. The layout didn’t allow any team to snowball early by capping the top, the elevators became a viable option, and storming the slopes didn’t feel as excruciating anymore. However, now it all felt somewhat bland, and the map’s mechanics just didn’t click. So after a few (quite a few) more iterations, we arrived at this.
Introducing the Drill!
Accelerator belts, teleports, and tunnels were all gone. Sometimes you need fewer mechanics to make the thing work, not more. The mountain lost half its height yet again and received a couple of smaller elevators to add more avenues of approach. We also added a river. Firstly, humans love water. Secondly, by that time we had the slowdown mechanic developed on Crash Site already so it only seemed logical we should use it here as well.
The main addition that sold the map to playtesters and the rest of the team alike was the Drill—a four-legged structure on top of the central beacon, which turns that beacon into a killing zone when you least expect it. What can be less predictable than enemy fire? By the time the hit areas that make the drill drop were added, we knew that one way or another this will make it to the live server.
There still was one major problem to address: the players on one side of the map didn’t know what was going on on the other. They didn’t feel in control, which resulted in lots of aimless wandering. To solve this problem, we decided to bring the mountain back, although this time, not as a playable zone.
Let the river run elsewhere, somewhere industry-free.
The mountain mass cut off one-third of the map, simplifying the layout to a digestible scale. We were hesitant to implement this solution at first, because the resulting area was another two-lane map like Crash Site. However, there are many more things differences than similarities between the two maps. On Crash Site, one team has the higher ground at the start. To level the field for both teams, we adjusted beacon positions so that the team which starts lower gets to their third beacon a bit faster. The spawn areas on Mont, on the other hand, have no elevation difference, meaning the teams arrive at the central beacon simultaneously. So the overall gameplay on our second map will feel very different.
Blocking, testing and iterating on feedback took us about nine months. After that, we were finally ready to pass the baton to the concept team.
The concept team cranked it to eleven from the get-go. They prepared multiple versions of the map, all following the initial layout but focusing on different environment feel and gameplay possibilities. For example, there was a version with half of the map submerged in acid or another one with heaps of metal scrap offering plenty of cover.
Can you see a Robot over there? Me neither.
When we tested each of them, we had an array of very distinct visions to choose from. The exaggerated versions of the futuristic art style helped us agree on the direction the map will go and leave all doubts behind. Well, not all the doubts. For some members of the team, this version with the pipes remained a favorite. It had that satisfying feel of interconnectedness to it.
Maybe there’s oil on the Wild Ten.
Finally, it was time for the art team to step in. They began by overhauling the map lighting and adding some pre-made buildings where the gray boxes once stood. With the blurry warm light filling the scene, Mont got its dusty martian look and some remote Total Recall vibes. It already looked like it belonged on the Wild Ten.
No crop fields on this Frontier.
For the next several months, the art team worked on the structures and the environment, pushing the map toward a game-ready state. They cooled the lighting a bit so that the human-made part of Mont stood out against the surrounding mountains. They replaced every placeholder with a game-ready asset and even found time to reintroduce acid pools from one of the early concepts. Each of the new additions was thoroughly tested by the QA team to ensure optimal (as far as Early Access goes) performance and passability.
You know exactly where to aim!
This isn’t the final version of Mont of course. We’re still thinking about adding extra elements to the Drill and certain visual aspects of the environment will definitely change in the future. For now, we are happy we were able to deliver the map just a couple of months after the start of Early Access.
Join our Discord and tell us what you think of Mont! Do you manage to score kills with the Drill at all? Can you win without the central beacon?
In the next Development Spotlight, we will talk about game modes. Stay tuned for new exciting ways to play War Robots: Frontiers!