A former British colony, Lamang was ravaged by a brutal civil war just two decades after gaining its independence when the remnants of the anti-British resistance (known as SOL - Sons of Lamang) were dissatisfied with the independent government‘s rule. Since the official army was understaffed, untrained, and equipped with outdated weapons and gear, it was swiftly defeated after only a couple of months of fighting. The SOL commander, Raksmei Sayavong, then declared himself the supreme leader of the island with the title of President.
Raksmei‘s victory was made possible thanks to the help of the Soviets, who supplied the SOL with weapons in exchange for strengthening their position during the Vietnam War. Building various military installations all over Lamang, a small contingent of Soviet troops remained on the island even after the end of the conflict and finally left after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Raksmei Sayavong died in 1996, with his only son, the 28-year-old Narith Sayavong, becoming the new leader of the island. Narith promised the people of Lamang that he would end his late father‘s isolationism policies and bring the island into the next millennium through modernization and openness. Claiming to focus on tourism, he ordered the construction of his crowning jewel - the Midnight Sapphire - a luxurious resort where, legend has it, all was allowed for the right price.
During the next three decades, those few who managed to escape the island told a vastly different story and pleaded with the rest of the world for help until, finally, the UN decided to act and established the UNLRA (United Nations Lamang Relief Agency) to provide at least a modicum of assistance to the oppressed people. With Narith‘s hesitant approval, UNLRA arrived in Lamang to assess the situation and begin its humanitarian mission.
Then, a few months later, a disaster struck. With a blinding flash and thunderous roar, a part of the island was forever transformed by a sudden cataclysmic Event.
The official channels cryptically speak of an unspecified environmental disaster while a plethora of far-fetched theories and “uncovered truths” scour the World Wide Web and beyond. A volcano erupting, a chemical factory exploding, a nuke going off, a satellite crashing, secret experiments gone terribly wrong, a meteorite impact, or the always-popular aliens. It will be up to the players to find out for themselves.
What is certain is that all hell broke loose in Lamang after the event. Mass hysteria and panic ensued, and UNLRA mounted an evacuation mission to get as many people off the island as possible. All UNLRA personnel and a majority of the survivors left the island, and the entire area has been put under international quarantine, with all the UN members agreeing not to trespass.
Seeing that the island was practically abandoned, many organized crime groups, pirates, and other lowlifes gathered in Lamang to plunder what was left or even claim the island entirely, engaging in skirmishes with the Lamang Armed Forces, who were ordered to stay behind and guard high-value targets. The first PMC, hired by their powerful clients to explore the area, arrived shortly after, followed soon by two others. After establishing a foothold in the region, they all started advancing towards what was now known as Ground Zero.
A series of well-coordinated strikes, far too professional for the bandits roaming the island or even Lamang Armed Forces, was then launched against the PMCs, and they lost almost all their previously taken territory. Suffering heavy casualties and loss of equipment, the PMCs started recruiting new soldiers of fortune to help them retake the region, assume full control of Ground Zero, and complete any tasks from the myriad of clients with some stakes in the area. The player, a former member of Special Operation Forces, is one of these new recruits.
Founded and funded by a tech billionaire, LRI publicizes itself as a strictly philanthropic exercise to search for pockets of survivors in and around Ground Zero after even the UN abandoned the island. The armed section of the organization is composed of small, highly professional security details that accompany rescue and clean-up teams to protect them from some of the other, far less altruistic, factions operating in the area.
Mithras bills itself as a PMC run by soldiers for soldiers, and it doesn‘t ask too many questions about an operator‘s motivations or past history. The only real bar to Mithras membership is a lack of field experience or military competence. It prides itself on only accepting the best and pays accordingly. The organization is inspired by the Roman Legion system, where the spoils of war were shared among the troops. From the highest-ranking officer to the lowest-ranking foot soldier according to their status within the unit and performance in the field.
This Private Military Company rose to infamy during the early stages of the Syrian civil war. While they boast an impressive 95% success rate, some of their methods can be seen as somewhat questionable, often resulting in collateral damage. That said, no one can deny their effectiveness and cold-blooded approach to any job that needs to be done. This gung-ho nature attracts not just ex-military personnel but basically anyone with a lust for adventure and action. However, thanks to their strict elimination process, only the truly exceptional soldiers ever make it as far to be deployed on an actual combat mission.
A retired US Marine Corps gunnery sergeant, Gunny is an awkward, truculent character who doesn‘t seem to much like anything or anyone. However, he is extremely good at what he does, hence why the PMC recruited him to help run their operation, and if part of that job means looking after the company‘s PMC operators, then that‘s what he‘s going to do to the best of his abilities.
Artisan has worked at her father‘s workshop since she was a little girl, learning all there is to know about machines and how they work. She blames UNLRA for the chaos their arrival caused and thinks of the PMCs as opportunistic vultures scavenging whatever remains of value in her country. Despite this animosity, she offered her services as a mechanic. Naturally reserved and wary of others, gaining her trust could prove challenging. However, once earned, her expertise and knowledge of Lamang could become a pivotal asset.
For Banshee, the turbulent events unfolding in Lamang were akin to a gold rush. The widespread chaos proved to be a lucrative market for his trade, attracting a surge of potential clients in dire need of his merchandise. Unfettered by moral reservations, Banshee operates under a simple yet effective principle: anyone with the means to pay is a potential collaborator. He gladly brings in possible business partners for his various plans, setting up deals that promise gains for everyone involved.
Like the rest of Gray Zone Warfare, the emphasis when designing quests is on realism and internal logic. We don‘t want the players to venture into the world to find X pieces of Y or bring back tons of nonsensical items without any meaning. Since we are focused on the living open-world aspect of the game, there are no set spawns or events that will always happen during a specific quest. Thus, the same simple recon mission may be a walk in the park for some and a bloody struggle for others since they were, for example, ambushed by an enemy patrol.
We also strongly believe in our players intelligence and try to stay as far away from excessive hand-holding as possible. Therefore, don‘t expect any massive waypoint markers guiding you step by step through the world. Read the briefing carefully, familiarize yourself with the land, and execute your plan.
Furthermore, we implemented branching decisions where, after the player receives a quest, another character can chime in with a slightly different proposition. The players can pick according to their moral compass or just because they like the reward more. Completing the quests and choosing with whom to cooperate will shift the players‘ reputation with each character, providing them with new possibilities or different choices.
The players can look forward to around 150 quests at the Early Access launch of GZW, with more being added over time.
Although Gray Zone Warfare isn‘t a strictly narratively-driven experience, there is a story that the players can engage with if they wish to do so. Even if the players don‘t want to complete the quests, they can still progress through the game, albeit less effectively. We aim to avoid pressuring the players into any particular actions.
Apart from mission briefings and debriefings, we are focusing on environmental storytelling and optional intel items (notes, books, newspapers, etc.) that the players can find in the world and uncover more about Lamang‘s past and the situation they currently find themselves in.
We strive to create a strong community and stay transparent about our intentions with the game. We‘d just like to reiterate that not everything will be in Early Acces. The world we are creating is huge, and we want to populate it over time, so there will always be something to discover and look forward to. :)
Thank you for being with us, and we can‘t wait to share further details soon!
MADFINGER Games Team
The creators were given an exclusive opportunity to preview new video footage showcasing the lore and story of Gray Zone Warfare. Here you can have a look at some of their impressions. Enjoy!