Resistance 3 hits stores this week and we were able to get Insomniac Senior Community Manager (and former Gaming Nexus contributor) James Stevenson to answer a few questions about the game.
From everything we’ve seen (and played at E3), the tone of Resistance 3 is a bit on the bleak side. Why did you decide to go in this direction? How do you keep things bleak without falling completely into despair and hopelessness?
We ended Resistance 2 on a VERY bleak note, so it only seems appropriate to continue from there. I think more interesting is that we jumped ahead four years to let us show what the world becomes. Resistance: Fall of Man and Resistance 2 were both military shooters, the might of humanity versus the Chimeran war machine – and humanity lost. So now we get to see the aftermath of that, and the lengths humans will go to survive and fight back.
How bad has the Chimeran occupancy gotten? We’ve seen that they are the dominant species on the planet now, what does that mean for the characters in the game and does this make the chapter of the franchise more character driven than the previous ones?
As I mentioned, we’re definitely not a military shooter now. One of the things we really wanted to do in R3 was show you how different groups are surviving the Chimeran occupation. You see the folks in Haven who are underground and just trying to live, you see young adults fighting back in the streets of St Louis, just to name a couple of the Survivor groups. So it’s definitely more character driven in some ways than the previous games.
In the previous two games it felt like humanity was fighting to defeat the Chimera but in Resistance 3 it seems like it’s more about survival, is that true? How is that idea executed in the game and in the story? Can humanity actually defeat the Chimera or not?
There’s no way that Humanity can overwhelm the Chimera at this point. Their numbers are too few, they don’t have the technology and they’ve been pushed to the brink. But they can deal them a devastating blow, and maybe buy themselves some more time. Capelli agrees to journey with Malikov to New York City to try and shut down the key tower in the Chimeran node network, and Resistance 3 is about that journey from Haven to New York City.
How did you come up with the box art of the game? It’s an amazingly cool look that seems to have made its way to the menu’s of the game. It’s a bit of a departure from what we’ve seen in the previous games and honestly something that’s very different from any other game box on the market. Any chance you have some other concepts that you could share with us?
Sony Computer Entertainment Europe was exploring packfront options for the regular packfront, as well as the collector’s edition, and a couple awesome comps used that high-contrast style. We loved them, and thought they could make great Collector’s Edition art, and suggested we contact British artist Olly Moss to see if he’d be interested in working with us, as we are gigantic fans of his work and style
Fortunately for us, Olly had apparently always wanted to do box art for a game. I know you’d love for me to share other concepts, but to be honest, the Skull was the very first thing he sent, and he nailed it. Using the teeth to put the skyline of New York, and also tie back to the Hybrid skull on the packfront of RFOM, was everything we could ask for. It was so good, we HAD to use it as our regular packfront too, and we were really happy with how well it was embraced both by Sony and by the press and fans.
Can you tell us a bit behind the new protagonist of the game? How does he compare to Nathan Hale in terms of personality and skills? Are you at all concerned that you’re alienating your fan base a bit by switching main characters going into the third game (not that you had a choice after the end of R2)? Will there be any Nathan Hale references in Resistance 3?
Capelli was a Sentinel too, so he’s a highly-effective soldier. That said, he’s spent four years away from fighting, got married and had a kid (read the new William C. Dietz Novel: A Hole in the Sky
if you’re curious about this time period), and he’s malnourished, and just wanting to live his life and raise his family. It’s his love for his family and wanting to make a better life for them that drives him to go with Malikov to New York.
There are certainly fans who loved Nathan Hale, but his sacrifice in Resistance 2 remains heroic because he’s gone. There are references to him, and his blood was used to create the Hale Vaccine, which eradicated the Chimeran virus from humans. It also is the narrative reason that Capelli no longer has health regen, and must search for health packs in the SP game.
Could you talk about some of the new Chimera we’ll see in Resistance 3? Do you think you have to add new creatures to the game to keep the game fresh? Do you come up with the new type of creature first and work them into the story or is it the other way around?
A couple of the cool ones are the Longlegs, Chimera which have augmented jumping skills, and the Brawler, a hulking Chimera that is sort of an in-your-face Melee enemy. Generally the game design, character design, and story all sort of work in tandem with what our overall goals are. One doesn’t come necessarily before the other, we’re usually looking at each creature from all angles, prototyping and experimenting along the way to make sure they will work correctly.
In terms of game play and puzzles, what lessons did you learn from Resistance 2 that you applied to Resistance 3?
Gameplay wise I think we just learned a lot about scriping and AI. We spent a lot of time early reworking our job board system to make the AI seem more fun to play against. We also spent a lot of time on making the Chimeran awareness seem more realistic and fun, and also worked on letting them cinematically transverse the environment, so that instead of running around and up a ramp, they’ll leap up to where you are at.
What new weapons can we expect to see in the game? What tweaks have you made to the existing weapons? Do you have a personal favorite?
There’s a bunch of new ones that are great like the Atomizer, which fires out electricity and as a secondary fire generates a gravity well to the Mutator which fires out these plague puss balls and will infect enemies and turn them into pussbombs. All of the weapons in the game can be leveled up twice, and each level generally effects either the primary or secondary fire. So the Rossmore shotgun becomes Incendiary, and the Bullseye allows you to tag multiple enemies at once. My personal favorite is still the Magnum, it’s awesome when your pistol is your most powerful weapon, and the Magnum is my trusty “in an emergency” go-to with its detonating rounds.
One of the more interesting design touches we saw at E3 was the return to the old school health meter (instead of regenerating health), could you talk a bit about why you made that decision and it’s impact on the game play and design? Are you at all worried about gamers having problems with the game after being coddled by regenerating health in most major FPS games?
I think it was born out of the idea that it’s sort of not fun if a player can hide behind a rock (and stare at the texture way too close up) for 5 seconds and basically reset the game. As part of our major emotional goal for the game was a feeling of desperation, health packs really tied into that well. We tried all three ways, RFOM’s split of health/regen, pure regen, and pure health packs, and we ultimately decided we liked health packs the best. When you’re low on health the tension is like nothing else.
Speaking of old school, could you talk about the decision to scope back co-op play to just two players with split-screen? Resistance 2 offered an unprecedented 8-player cooperative mode, where there problems with that big of a co-op experience or did you just decide to go a different route?
It really came down to two things. One the biggest complaint that Insomniac received about Resistance 2 was lack of co-op campaign. Secondly, our biggest goal with Resistance 3 was to focus our efforts and deliver our most polished game ever. Rolling co-op back into the campaign gave us the best chance to ensure our game was as polished and cohesive as possible.
Is the Resistance series to be a single player experience with a multiplayer mode or a multiplayer game with a single player experience? From an effort standpoint, which portion of the game do you focus the most on? Could you ever see releasing a game that was just one or the other?
Resistance 3 is a complete package with a great campaign mode, co-op through the campaign (online or offline split-screen) and a great MP offering. In terms of if we’d ever make a just campaign or just MP game, I direct you towards the Ratchet & Clank: Future series, which was all just single-player campaign only. :)
Fall 2011 seems to be the season for competitive FPS games with the likes of Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3 on the horizon; what is Resistance 3 bringing to the table in terms of multiplayer to run toe to toe with these games? Are you at all worried that Resistance 3 might eventually get lost in the shuffle? Do you think releasing ahead of time will help with that at all?
Each of those games, along with ours, offer something great. I plan on buying both BF3 and MW3, and I imagine many gamers out there will do the same. In terms of where we are different: I think we offer a non-military shooter, with a really great personal story, an arsenal of weapons and abilities only possible in Resistance, and something you can play this week J.
Insomniac has been working on the Resistance series since the launch of the PS3 many moons ago, what’s been the biggest lesson you’ve learned since the series started? What’s one thing that you know now that you wish you had known when the series launched?
Hindsight is always 20/20, I think we all would’ve loved more time to do various things better, or perhaps change a decision in the past. That said, I think we’re all really proud of the three games we have put together, and this universe that we have created.