The world of Dots is about to get bigger — and more mysterious. Today game studio Dots announced that it’s working on a fourth game called Wilds. But right now the developer isn’t revealing much about its next project — the announcement comes in the form of a live-action teaser that doesn’t show any of the game itself. “The idea of the video was to create a manifestation in the real world of what it felt like to play this game,” says studio CCO and original Dots designer Patrick Moberg.
Wilds will be coming to both iOS and Android sometime later this year. And while it’s the first game from the studio to not bear the Dots name, it will still be somewhat familiar to fans of the series. “The Dots mechanic exists in the sense that you will be connecting dots and making squares,” says lead designer David Hohusen. “But beyond that pretty much everything else has changed.”
The new game is described as a “puzzle RPG,” a character-driven experience that takes place in a vast world that players can explore. Previous games — including last year’s Dots & Co — presented players with a game board and a set number of moves in which to complete the puzzle. Wilds goes in a different direction. “This game is a pretty big departure from our existing titles, in the sense that we’re aiming for a game that has a lot more depth to it,” explains Hohusen. “Hopefully to engage a little bit more of a strategic form of gameplay. Since it’s a puzzle RPG, we want to lean into this idea that the way you play your game will be different than the way that I play my game. We created a lot of systems that support non-linear gameplay.”
The studio decided to announce the game with a live-action trailer for a few reasons. One was to create a sense of mystery; the other was more practical. “We wanted a way to announce it, and tell our players that this is something we’re working on,” says Moberg. “But we weren’t quite ready to share the in-game art just yet.” The trailer follows a pair of similar videos Dots released last year under the banner “Play Beautifully.” Each featured a different athlete — one starred gymnast Laura Zeng, the other BMX rider Nigel Sylvester — in short, serene films inspired by the glowing, colorful dots from the games. “It felt like a cool way to keep going down this space,” Hohusen says of the new video, “and also finally let people know we have a fourth game on the way.”
By the time Wilds launches this year, the team says it will have been in development for close to two years. And the studio is planning what it describes as a “long-term commitment” to keeping the game going after launch. For Moberg, who has been working on Dots in some form or another since before the original launched in 2013, it felt like the right time to try something new with the formula. “The Dots mechanic was born here, we’re kind of evolving with it,” he says. “TwoDots has 1,000 levels, Dots & Co. is closing in on 400. So there are people who have spent a lot of time with this mechanic, including us, so it felt like the right time to explore these different systems.”
That said, whatever comes next may not necessarily stick so close to the studio’s past. “We’re often surprised at how we keep coming back to it,” Hohusen says of the Dots mechanic. “Depending on where things go with Wilds, it will be a ripe opportunity to start exploring some new territory also.”