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Mar 26

ModNation Racers PS3: Bringing The BOOM with Weapons!

Nick Letizia's Avatar Posted by Nick Letizia on Mar 26, 2010 // United Front Games, Game Designer

Hi PS.Blog dwellers,

Because Mat has already gone in to how racing skill and split-screen are key in ModNation Racers, I’m here to chat about a key part of the title — weapons. Specifically, it’s what we like to call the “Boom Box” weapon system.

Take a peek at our new trailer for a taste and read more below on how ModNation Racers will bring the BOOM on May 25.

Designing the Boom Box

When making ModNation Racers, we realized the need to advance the kart racing genre to the next level with a more physical driving model, but we also wanted to change how players use weapons. Nothing feels better than taking an opponent down, but that feeling of euphoria is soon forgotten when you are on the receiving end of an attack. Weapons can change the course of a race — it’s one of the defining characteristics in this genre, but we wanted to reduce the frustration of unskilled randomness. We wanted to give players more options.

Strategy – Using the Ladder

In ModNation Racers you can choose to upgrade your weapons to make them more powerful, but that doesn’t always come easy. When you get hammered with a lightning bolt from the sky, at the very least, you know your opponent had to work for it. In addition to having the choice between upgrading and firing, we also wanted players to plan out their attacks and try to utilize weapons in different ways. With that in mind, we designed each to have three distinct levels – so when you upgrade, you change the properties of the weapon, which then gives you a different style of attack.

ModNation Racers PS3 Screenshot 16 ModNation Racers PS3 Screenshot 13

Level 2 Bolt attack will hit multiple karts / If the driver a head of you is bringing the HEAT, these puppies will SEEK it.

Using the Bolt ladder as an example, players can decide to fire off a level-1 Bolt attack for a quick, but risky electrical takedown. They can save up to a level-2 Chain Bolt for a homing attack capable of electrocuting multiple opponents, or they can wait until they have a level-3 Bolt Storm (the most powerful) and try to shock entire pack. Finally, any level of weapon can be dropped behind the kart as a mine. The higher the level of weapon dropped, the more potent the mine.

ModNation Racers PS3 Screenshot 23A

Drop it like it’s Hot

This is a great way to leave traps for your opponents, and incidentally, gives the player in the lead the ability to still be able to use the weapons they have collected. Now you’re probably asking, “Why would I not just save up and always fire a powerful level-3?” Well, a number of reasons actually, but first and foremost is that your weapons can be knocked out by an opponent’s attack, so holding a weapon for too long might cause you to eventually lose it.

ModNation Racers PS3 Screenshot 31A

This is going to hurt.

Also, level-3 weapons take time to work their way through the pack, so your opponents might finish the race before they are hit, or they may have built up enough boost to shield your attack.


One of our core mantras when balancing the weapons was to ensure that there aren’t any “silver bullets.” No matter how powerful a weapon is, there is still a chance to evade it. We also wanted to ensure a tight race, so the power of each stun is scaled based on your position in the race and distance from the player attacking. What that does is allow anyone in the pack to always have a chance. This isn’t so much a “punish the leader” situation, but a way to prevent stalemates. If players in positions 7th to 1st are hit by the player in 8th and stunned for an equal length of time, nothing will change. By having the weapons stun time (slightly) increase as it passes through the race pack, it helps to create a more dynamic race. This then opens up more opportunities for everyone to have a chance at changing their position.

ModNation Racers PS3 Screenshot 172 ModNation Racers PS3 Screenshot 22A

Sonic Bombs will give the kart in front of you an earful / The Sonic Rift blasts all the racers between you and first place

Let’s be clear though, there isn’t going to be a significant difference between the weapons power on the last racer as compared to the leader, but enough to make the leader worry that there are always racers on their tail. We have raced thousands millions of times in the office, and a skilled driver utilizing all of the tools at their disposal can maintain a lead, and that was an important factor for us. Skilled drivers should be rewarded for skilled play, which in turn causes other players to have to think and play differently.

We have a particular useful strategy we sometimes employ here at the office to take down a skilled driver. Two players will “team up” to swap positions and then each fire at the player in front in quick succession, the first to hopefully drain their shield, and the second to take them out. Very effective, although normally those alliances last about as long as the distance it takes to get to the next set of item pods, at which point all bets are off.

ModNation Racers PS3 Screenshot 18A

That’s weapons in a nutshell. I’m sure everyone is going to find all sorts of fun ways to take out opponents online when the game is released, so until then I will leave you all to your plotting.

//Add Your Own

76 Comments   13 Replies

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+ Alienrex on March 26th, 2010 at 9:37 am said:

Awersome…. I hope the game have multiplayer
Look like Mario Kart


+ Thrasher20 on March 26th, 2010 at 9:38 am said:

I’m going to be expecting some Mario Kart, F-Zero, and Top Gear (SNES) tributes!


+ saionji1229 on March 26th, 2010 at 9:38 am said:

Hey Nick! “Finally, any level of weapon can be dropped behind the kart as a mine. The higher the level of weapon dropped, the more potent the mine.” was used twice in a row just so you know :)


+ TakiFuGu on March 26th, 2010 at 9:40 am said:



+ Alienrex on March 26th, 2010 at 9:40 am said:

Yeah Thrasher20… I agree with you !!!


+ DZORMAGEN on March 26th, 2010 at 9:56 am said:

Awesome!!! When can I go to Best Buy and Pre-Order the game so I can get my Nathan Mod?

    Nick Letizia's Avatar


    + Chuck Lacson on March 26th, 2010 at 3:01 pm said:

    They told us next Monday. :)


+ Seshat on March 26th, 2010 at 9:57 am said:

I like balance and reducing frustration when I play with other skilled opponents; but I would like to have the option of an ARCADE mode where weapons tend to favor beginners.

The idea of having a 4-player split screen means that we will be using this game for game parties. Now most of the players in a game party will be beginners, and they can get frustrated if they play against skilled players, unless random weapons get them back into the game.

Please make an ARCADE vs. mode for beginners!!

    Nick Letizia's Avatar


    + Nick Letizia on March 29th, 2010 at 1:19 pm said:

    I can understand your concern, but the game is very accessible and even beginner players will be able to hold their own, and enjoy themselves when racing more skilled friends. Anyone finding themselves behind will have a number of options at their disposal to get back into the race. First and foremost they will have a higher chance of getting weapons from the supercharge ladder which will allow them to portal back into the pack. Then keep in mind that players in the back will have fewer distractions from other karts, and will be able to upgrade to more powerful weapons much easier. So no racer will ever be down and out.

    We have made an effort to add more skill based play into our game, that was important to us, but we also realized that not every racer will be a hardcore user. This is kart racing after all, and we wanted to ensure all players of every skill level could have fun playing the game.


+ kowhoho on March 26th, 2010 at 10:03 am said:

Price check on isle BOOM


+ dcn66100 on March 26th, 2010 at 10:11 am said:

Looks awesome might buy if reviews are good.


+ NewYork214 on March 26th, 2010 at 10:15 am said:

how bout moving up the release date lol


+ SimGrave on March 26th, 2010 at 10:20 am said:

Damn… are they going to tease us like this until the release of Modnation Racers?
This game is by far my most anticipated game of 2010.


+ KazeEternal on March 26th, 2010 at 10:33 am said:

I agree with 17…. I’d also like to see some means of handicaping experiencing players like you would see in a fighting game. Maybe preventing certain weapons from getting into a more experienced players hands and more frequently in the hands of an inexperienced opponent.


+ yostane on March 26th, 2010 at 10:58 am said:

I like the Kratos avatar.


+ luciFOUR on March 26th, 2010 at 11:31 am said:

Thanks for the reply!

What you guys had said before, with the weapons, split-screen, etc., had made me really want this game, but performance tweaking will make it that much better. I will have to buy this game, and I will tell all my friends with PS3’s (and those without) about this game.


+ polo155 on March 26th, 2010 at 11:33 am said:

this was fun in Beta, got my psp themes codes and enjoiyed it at the Blog Meet NYC on the PSP Version, really fun game.. will it have a game share feature or will each person need a copy for the psp’s?
and if u guys need some intrumental hip hop ish tracks holla..!! :) Game shareable?


+ Shadow-Man_4 on March 26th, 2010 at 11:37 am said:

Hey chuck, will there be more weapons or are those the final decision? I hope you add abit more ;)

Thanks in advance.


+ lostinplainsight on March 26th, 2010 at 11:39 am said:

can dropped weapons be used to block incoming attacks?

    Nick Letizia's Avatar


    + Nick Letizia on March 26th, 2010 at 12:25 pm said:

    If timed correctly, yes, a mine will be able to block certain attacks.


+ Shadow-Man_4 on March 26th, 2010 at 12:28 pm said:

Will the shield protect you even from the 3rd upgrade attacks?

    Nick Letizia's Avatar


    + Nick Letizia on March 26th, 2010 at 12:42 pm said:

    Yes, the shield will protect you from any attack. Although, depending on the level of weapon you are blocking, you will have to keep your shield up longer, which uses more boost. If you are on the receiving end of a Hydra weapon for example, you will need keep your shield up for quite a long time. This is part of the strategy of the weapons, players in the lead can shield any attack, but only for so long. Which means a few well timed attacks will take down even the best racer.


+ joeschmo99 on March 26th, 2010 at 12:29 pm said:

Little Big Planet is easily my favorite PS3 game, and this looks like to be just as fun! Very excited for this game


+ tenshin78 on March 26th, 2010 at 12:43 pm said:

This game has become a musthave for me!


+ Sindred on March 26th, 2010 at 12:49 pm said:

Hey guys, do you get boosts from performing long drifts? Feels like that would be a nice reward for long drifts. Don’t remember seeing it in Beta, so I thought I’d ask.

    Nick Letizia's Avatar


    + Nick Letizia on March 26th, 2010 at 1:13 pm said:

    You will not gain a direct boost from drifting, but when you drift, it will fill up your boost meter, which you can then use at anytime. The longer you hold a drift, the more boost you will get. Be careful when drifting too long though, crashing while drifting will cancel any boost you would have received.

    It’s important to note that drifting isn’t the only way to gain boost. Successful attacks, spins, airtime, and sideswiping will also fill your meter.


+ acerazer1 on March 26th, 2010 at 12:51 pm said:

This game is gonna be mad fun, I can feel it. And if the online works properly, it’s gonna be a real gem. Can’t wait.


+ B-Real206 on March 26th, 2010 at 12:57 pm said:

Great job guys and gals, I can’t wait till may. This game has been at the top of my list since the announcement last year. The beta solidified it.
Day 1 from seattle!


+ Modulos on March 26th, 2010 at 1:01 pm said:

Any word on voice chat, either global or party (preferred)?

    Nick Letizia's Avatar


    + Nick Letizia on March 26th, 2010 at 1:20 pm said:

    We will support VOIP, and you will be able to chat globally and privately while in game rooms, races and even in the Mod Spot.


+ SDkngsht on March 26th, 2010 at 12:34 pm said:

this game is going to be F****NG AWESOME!


+ Dakon_ on March 26th, 2010 at 12:35 pm said:

sweetness on wheels!!! definately gonna get it!!!

and shields are a nice touch

looking alot better then MK

darn random attacks made harder for me and few good item while I was in the lead. THANK YOU Mod Nation Racers!!!!!

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