Guerrilla Armory: M55 Assault Rifle

Now that the multiplayer trailer for Killzone Shadow Fall has been released at Gamescom, some fans are noticing a curious absence in the footage: the ISA M82 assault rifle. It’s true – the trusty M82 is no longer used by the VSA, and has been replaced by the brand-new M55. We asked art director and firearms designer Roy Postma about the design for the new assault rifle and its relation to the M82.

What was the starting point in designing the M55? Did you start from scratch or base it on the M82?


"The M82 has been with us since the very first Killzone game, so I wanted to stay close to the original version. I pretty much retained all the internal logic and base the setup of the original, and focused more on the external body parts, like the grips, the external casing, and the required mount points for all the new attachments."


How did the modularity of the attachments factor into the design?


"At first it didn’t make a huge difference, for the simple reason that adding mount points and rails for attachments is a basic process that helps in creating a realistic and believable design. However, when the range of available attachments extended over time, they became a much bigger part of the design of each weapon. Their individual volumes can be quite different, as well - you want the attachments to be visible on the weapon, but at the same time you also don’t want them to block out vital parts or shapes of the weapon itself. Besides that, they can add a lot of volume and completely change the silhouette of a weapon, so in the end we had to tweak a lot of detail placements and search for a delicate balance in composition and functionality between the weapon and the attachments."


What techniques did you use to make the M55 feel 'futuristic' while simultaneously keeping it grounded in believability?


"We set out to develop a more advanced overall look for the VSA weapons, so we redesigned all the external components and created a whole new body kit to fit around the original weapon. Even then, the M55 went through a lot of revisions; it is one of the core weapons we used to define the new futuristic style for our other VSA weapons, so we wanted to get it just right. You’ll notice that the M55 shares many small details and features with other VSA weapons.


Thankfully, the construction and logic of the weapon didn’t need many adjustments throughout this revision process. We mainly focused on the lines, replacing rounded ergonomic forms with more angular sides and lines like those of a stealth plane. The end result works really well with our material shaders and lighting. It also stays close to the M55’s predecessor in terms of volume and feel, while rocking a completely new look."


In previous Killzone games, there was a clear difference in design philosophy between Helghast weapons and ISA weapons. Is that still the case?


"The basic design philosophy of the weapons hasn’t changed for either faction. The ‘high accuracy and quality versus high fire rates and quantity’ approach still stands, and will reflect back on the weapon designs. However, because we were aiming for a more futuristic look this time, the Helghast weapons made a bigger leap forward in terms of quality. To prevent the VSA and Helghast weapons from becoming too alike, we started looking at a wider range of changes to reinforce the differences.


We kept the massive ammo drums of the Helghast and the comparatively small ammo box magazines of the VSA. We also upped the color differentiation between both factions, and created unique versions of each weapon attachment for both factions."


Speaking of attachments, how extendable is the functionality of the M55?


"As one of the standard weapons with an all-round performance, the M55 has a good range of attachments available, allowing you to modify its setup to suit any operation, situation or personal preference. For example, you can choose between a range of combat sights, from the basic short range dot sight, to the more advanced HOLO and long-to-medium range ACOG sight. Beyond that, you can add secondary fire attachments to your weapon, like the shotgun for close quarters combat or the grenade launcher for a more supportive role."

Thanks, Roy! will be back with another Guerrilla Armory article soon - in the meantime, check out high-res screenshots of the M55 assault rifle in the gallery below: 

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