- "Set in the era of the Cold War, human guinea pigs are involuntarily recruited by the good folks at the Murkoff Corporation to test advanced methods of brainwashing and mind control. In a world of distrust, fear, and violence, your morals will be challenged, your endurance tested, and your sanity crushed. All in the name of progress, science, and profit.
Red Barrels invites you to experience mind-numbing terror, this time with friends. Work together and maybe you'll survive The Outlast Trials. It's always better to shit your pants in good company."
- ―The Outlast Trials description
The Outlast Trials is an upcoming cooperative first-person psychological survival horror video game developed and published by Red Barrels. It is the third installment in the Outlast series, serving as a prequel to the first two games. The game makes its debut with a cross-platform[notes 1] online co-op mode, allowing up to four players to participate, although a single-player route will also be available. It is scheduled for a 2022 release.
The game is set in the same universe as other Outlast related titles and takes place during the Cold War era, where players take on the role of test subjects—referred to as Reagents—abducted by the Murkoff Corporation. Imprisoned in a secret Murkoff facility comprised of a dozen warehouses and connected by underground tunnels, players will be thrust into a series of physical and mental ordeals, tormented by iconic characters, and challenged alone or in teams to survive with their sanity intact. Inside the warehouses, Murkoff has constructed heightened lift-sized models of real-world environments. In between the trials, Reagents return to the Sleep Room, where Murkoff takes good care of them. Reagents can interact with Murkoff employees to obtain the items that they will need for their next trial.
On December 7, 2017, Red Barrels posted an update on their future plans, which included Outlast 3 and an untitled Outlast-related project that was in the works. According to Red Barrels, as it was not possible to include downloadable content within Outlast 2, the studio decided instead to work on a separate project that will include much-requested features, likely alluding to Trials' co-op mode. While not being a direct sequel to Outlast 2, the game's story is set in the same universe.
On October 31, 2019, Red Barrels posted a teaser image for their upcoming project with a caption that reads "Where freedom ends."
On December 4, 2019, Red Barrels officially announced their upcoming title The Outlast Trials, with its story taking place during the Cold War era. The initial reveal post also featured an image with characters wearing head-mounted displays, leading people to believe that it might be a virtual reality game. The developers later clarified that the game will not have any VR features. The Outlast Trials was developed by a team that consisted of around forty people.
In an interview with Official PlayStation Magazine UK, Philippe Morin mentioned that the Cold War era was chosen as a setting in order to flesh out the mythology behind the games by revisiting Project MKUltra at its height. Morin also described the multiplayer as "...flexible, so that people can play it in any way they want" and noted that the co-op mode will have segments where players will find themselves separated from one another: "Stuff will happen, shit will hit the fan and soon you may find yourself separated from the group." In a later interview with PlayStation Blog, Red Barrels described the game as a "TV series."
On June 13, 2020, as part of PC Gaming Show, Red Barrels released a ninety-second cinematic teaser. The trailer opens with several surgeons forcefully mounting a night vision device onto an immobilized subject's head. Once completed, the head surgeon asks for his staff to bring in the remaining test subjects, before the scene cuts to a hallway chase sequence where two escapees aid one another in breaking out, but are quickly cut down by their pursuers; one is stabbed through the back of her neck, while the other has his head crushed by a shadowy figure wielding a sledgehammer, as the title card overlaps across the screen to reveal the tagline "Freedom ends in 2021," alluding to the game's initial release year. The song featured at the start of the trailer is called "Is It Just A Game" by Buddy & the Fads.
Behind the scenes
Throughout Trials' development, Red Barrels showcased "Behind The Trials," a series of brief behind-the-scenes videos featured across their social media that focused on various aspects of the game's design. These include a footage compilation of motion capture stunt work for various enemy encounters and player death animations (motion capture process handled by Game On studio), character design, an overview of the game's audio design and its soundtrack, and inspirations behind Trials' story.
A documentary on the making of The Outlast Trials is slated for a 2022 release.
Originally slated for a 2021 release, Red Barrels later retracted the date, stating that the game was still in development. On August 25, 2021, as part of Gamescom 2021, Red Barrels showcased Trials' first gameplay trailer. The trailer concludes with an end card that reads "We're all in it together in 2022," referring to the game's subsequent release year.
Behind the scenes
- Although it was not directly confirmed by the developers, the game is listed on Steam as a "Cross-Platform Multiplayer" title.
- "Trial #1: Sound and Music, The Outlast Trials - Behind the Scenes". Red Barrels. YouTube (October 29, 2021).
- "The Outlast Trials “is like a TV series”, offering new challenges for players and developer alike". PlayStation Blog (September 3, 2021).
- "The Outlast Trials Gameplay Reveal, Gamescom 2021". Red Barrels. YouTube (August 25, 2021).
- "The Outlast Trials will be an online multiplayer, there is no local co-op.". TheRedBarrels. Twitter (December 11, 2021).
- Welcome to The Outlast Trials
- It's time for a little status update from us
- Halloween 2019 Teaser
- Philippe Morin's interview with Official PlayStation Magazine UK
- "Take a peek #BehindTheTrials to see what our animation team has been working on at Game On motion capture studio for #TheOutlastTrials! What caught your eye in this video? 😏". TheRedBarrels. Twitter (July 9, 2021).
- "Trial #2: Characters, The Outlast Trials - Behind the Scenes". Red Barrels. YouTube (December 10, 2021).
- "Trial #3: Storytelling and Inspiration, The Outlast Trials - Behind the Scenes". Red Barrels. YouTube (March 31, 2022).
- @TheRedBarrels - "Just a heads up, our answer to this question is still the same: we do not have a release date set for The Outlast Trials, and we are still in development. This Q&A will focus on the studio, and our released games!👍"