Our seasonal updates within Killing Floor 2 have a central place in the ongoing support of the game since launch and given the horror inspirations for Killing Floor, Halloween has always had a special place in our hearts. From the dreamlike terrors of Nightmare in 2017, the festive celebration to horror icons of the past in Monster Ball in 2018, or the cerebral spookiness of Ashwood Asylum in 2019, we knew we needed to take the player somewhere new for 2020 that felt in-line with the Halloween spirit.
The initial idea for Hellmark Station came out of Killing Floor’s strong connection to London and horror films. In the first Killing Floor, West London was one of the most iconic maps of that game, so we knew we had a great opportunity to return the player to that environment, but we didn’t want to settle for just doing a remaster of the original map and take the player somewhere new. In our research, we came across the iconic King’s Cross station and were impressed by the latticed glass roof ceiling of the entrance and the large sweeping arches of its train platforms. We knew it was something extraordinary that would provide a unique gameplay space for the player to explore.
As a lot of us on the team are occult fans we went with the Hell-themed idea in the end and started to look into the layout of the map and location for it as we knew early on that we wanted to have the map be inspired by a real place to ground the map in reality and to give players a connection its layout and design. We wanted the Station to look like it was in the process of being overtaken. By incorporating organic shapes, stone obelisks, and lava, we were able to bring new elements into the environment and find fun ways of blending the two themes.
When thinking about the lore of the map for how it connected to the wider Killing Floor universe, we initially brainstormed various ideas of tying its previous events and characters explored in objective mode maps, but ultimately the fantastical elements of the infernal setting made it difficult to settle into the official canon; especially if we didn’t intend to develop these plotlines in future updates. For all of the awesome lore-heads out there, the hidden internal narrative we settled on is the Patriarch having beef with the demonic invaders that suddenly emerge within London. In his never-ending quest for world domination, they were stepping on his territory. This unspoken lore is why we chose the Patriarch to be the Trader VO for the map.
As we began to flesh out Hellmark’s design, we decided to add some unique gameplay elements that could tie into the seasonal objectives, provide a deeper layer of strategy, and some variety to the standard Killing Floor 2 experience. To do so, we added the idea of a “demonic pact” with the three obelisks placed inside the map, which offer a great risk/reward. Interacting with obelisks lets players trade some health and their ability to heal (temporarily) for a momentary damage and speed power-up; creating the classic Killing Floor 2 power fantasy of efficiently and ruthlessly dispatching Zeds. We’ve found that the obelisks really encourage frenzied gameplay, and we love a good frenzy.
We then added numerous hell portals throughout the map to provide an environmental context of where the invaders were able to enter the station, but also provided a lot of gameplay opportunities to control the flow of combat. If they study the positions carefully, players will be able better anticipate where Zeds will be emerging and set up strong defensive positions. After we had the core framework of the map laid out and constructed, we spent considerable time testing, tuning, optimizing, and refining until it was ready to deliver to the masses in tip-top shape.
We hope you enjoy this brief dive into the development of the Hellmark Station map and that you enjoy playing the map as much as we enjoyed making it. The Hellmark Station map is a free part of the Infernal Insurrection update launching September 29 for Killing Floor 2 on PS4.