Developer Free Lives has returned to the pectoral-popping embrace of its much-loved 2015 hit to deliver one final update: Broforce Forever, which is packed with new bros, new modes, new moves, and one final batch of bug fixes.
What drove the studio to put together a surprise update around seven years after we thought we’d seen the last of Broforce? Who decides which bros make the cut in the final product? And can we expect more from the series and, dare we say it, Broforce 2? We spoke with Broforce creative director Evan Greenwood on the motivation to return to Broforce, the hilarious process for adding new bros to the game, and the possible future of the series.
IGN: It’s been a long time since Broforce news; what was the motivation to go back to it after such a long hiatus, especially considering how fast the games business moves sometimes?
Evan Greenwood: Broforce has some passionate fans, and they kept asking us to improve certain less-than-perfect aspects of the game. You know, balance issues that kept niggling high-level players.
When we did come back to working on the project we found it both more exciting to work on, and a lot more difficult to work with, than we had imagined. The codebase had become creaky under the weight of all the ports to consoles and the necessary optimizations that had been performed on it, but making more Broforce was fun! In our excitement we started imagining an even bigger update, possibly even a standalone game, but had to reign the scope back once reality set in.
So the update became more than just a list of fixes of issues that super-fans found with the game, but less than what would warrant a standalone expansion. Basically, it ended up being a sizable update to the game that is at least as beefy as the updates we were releasing when the game was in Early Access. And we’re pretty happy with that.
IGN: How successful has Broforce been for Free Lives and how has player interest in it evolved over time?
EG: Broforce built our studio. We’ve gone on to release several very successful games after Broforce; some of the games even more financially successful than Broforce was.
But none of our games receive the level of requests for a sequel as Broforce. There’s reliably someone asking for Broforce 2 in every announcement Free Lives makes.
If I’m honest, I feel myself succumbing to the pressure. It’s a difficult thing to live with, knowing that all I need to do is spend another three to four years of my life, invest millions of dollars, and I could make so many people happy – or at least make them less sad.
It seems to me that one of these days I am going to cave, and the fans are going to win. They are relentless. I’ve given up hope of them ever stopping. But in my darkest moments I fear the taunting requests for Broforce 3.
IGN: Broforce Forever is described as a massive and final update: can we get some context on how massive? And how final is final? Final final? Or final as in Sean Connery will never make another Bond movie after Diamonds Are Forever until he did? Is there a future for Broforce broadly?
EG: Broforce Forever started out as an update to fix a lot of issues that the most serious players of Broforce were experiencing, as well as several improvements we had at one point or another promised to ourselves that had not made it into the previous “final” update.
But Broforce Forever grew to also include six new playable bros, four new campaigns, and completely reworked city campaigns.
It was fun to come back to the project, though the codebase is aged and the technical debt is high. What would be a lot more fun is starting a new Broforce project. It’s been a decade since the inception of Broforce, and a lot has changed in action movies and America in that time, which is daunting. What does a Broforce game look like now, this far down the line? Does America know how to laugh about itself in the 2020s? Is Rambo still relevant? Do terrorists still worship Satan? There are a lot of questions to answer!
I suspect, before I die, there will be another Broforce. There’s also the possibility that developing a new Broforce actually kills me this time, which might leave the project in a weird state. Though I have some faith that my friends and collaborators at Free Lives will avenge my death by completing the game.
IGN: New bros is a great highlight – and really the pun quality of Desperabro is so high I almost can’t believe we’ve been playing the game without him – but can you explain the presumably many layers of work required to add characters to Broforce?
EG: 1) It begins with rigorously watching a lot of action movies. After that is done, and you have calibrated your internal sense of awesome, you go online and look at fan requests for new bros.
2) Then you ignore those requests, because you already know which bro you need to build, in your heart. You’ve known for a long, long time.
3) Then you propose the new bro idea to your colleagues. Everyone is stoked and high fives.
4) Together you spend many hours debating how to insert “bro” into their name.
5) Then you open up the project, and start typing furiously while also intensely photoshopping pixels. The outline of an awesome new bro starts to take shape before you. Terrorists everywhere feel a shadow pass over them.
6) About 50% of the time you realise you don’t know what you’re doing and have to discard your work. Everyone weeps at this point. (“Oh Mission Impossibro, why couldn’t you have wielded more iconic guns!”) (“Oh why, Scorpion Bro, did becoming a giant human-scorpion mutant beast require so many challenging edge cases!”)
7) Then the Broforce fans play with the bro, in a top-secret beta test, and they tell you everything that you’ve done wrong. At this point you just do what they say because they have watched more action movies than you.
8) Then increase the volume of the guns a little bit for good measure.
9) Then you’re done, start again at point number 1.
IGN: Let me say I honestly love this game, but let’s face it: there’s a very upsetting lack of a ’90s Nic Cage bro, when the luxuriously-haired Con Air saviour Cameron Bro is right there. Can you confirm there are no grudges held against Mr. Nicolas Cage? Jokes aside, how many bro suggestions do you think the team has fielded over the years? Because I do figure names are cute and easy, but feasible and fun gameplay solutions are a different story, yeah?
EG: In the original design doc there’s four pages of bro concepts that we never got the chance to include. I think at this point every character from every action movie viewed in the English-speaking world has been suggested.
The thing is, making new bros got more and more difficult as the game went on. The first few bros players encounter in the game were all designed pretty much in the first week of development, they’re the simplest, and the best suited to introducing the game. But each new bro had to offer something unique, and the basic avenues of distinguishing bros were used up first, so more and more elaborate features were required as time went on.
For instance, Desperabro, who is in this new update, has a guitar (as he should) and every enemy in the game now has dancing frames. Suggesting that feature to the artist was a fun meeting.
IGN: What’s Free Lives looking for in terms of success for Broforce Forever? Is there a certain level of interest or engagement you’d love to see back in the game, or is this something you’re just keen to put in front of those who loved and still love Broforce regardless?
EG: My favourite stories about Broforce are always the ones where friends play the game together. So I hope some fans of Broforce pick up the game again and play it with their friends and most of all, I hope they have an awesome time playing it!
Though, when I’m feeling particularly optimistic, I dream that calls for the sequel proper might abate, at least for a while. No more cries of Broforce 2 haunting our online presence. But then I slap myself, face reality, and I know there’s only one way out of this.
Broforce Forever will arrive on August 8 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch. Broforce will also arrive on Xbox for the first time alongside this update, and an Xbox One edition of Broforce will be available via Game Pass.
Luke is a Senior Editor on the IGN reviews team. You can chat to him on Twitter @MrLukeReilly.