The game, given the working title â€œStranger Arenaâ€, was built on the same engine used for the original Xbox version of Strangerâ€™s Wrath, and thatÂ the work on the game had begun shortly after production for Strangerâ€™s Wrath had finished.
As well as the engine, Arena also incorporated many of the same gameplay elements as its predecessor, with players having the ability to sprint around at high speeds in third person or taking careful aim in first person. Lanning claims that this style of gameplay stands in contrast with the current multiplayer shooter conventions, and may have had a huge impact on the development of the genre:
“I was looking for more strategy in how I want to play the character. Like if I’m dealing with people who are obviously tougher than me, then I want to be more clever. I don’t want to be losing just because they’re faster on the draw,” he said of a game about reptilian cowboys who are fast on the draw.
“You’re not going to beat them by being clever. You’re going to beat them by playing as many hours as they do,” Lanning said of other shooters, name-checking Halo and Call of Duty. Instead, he wanted a more strategic method of play more akin to a real-time strategy game.”