Some fans of F.E.A.R. have a problem with the third instalment in the series. They see original creator Monolith passing the torch to Day 1 Studios and worry. They see gameplay videos packed with mechs and worry some more. Then they hear strange noises about something called divergent co-op and Alma's son's Point Man and Fettel sharing destruction duties and they start worrying all over again.
Here, in an interview with Eurogamer to coincide with the release of an exclusive new trailer, Day 1 Studios art director Heinz Schuller and lead systems designer Parker Hamilton reveal why there's no need to be afraid. Read on to find out more about their vision for F.E.A.R. 3.
Eurogamer: We're not used to seeing co-op modes that allow players to work against each other as well as with each other. What, exactly, will happen when Point Man and Fettel pull in different directions?
Parker Hamilton: Fettel's motivations for working together emerge out of his ability to suspend an enemy and pull him up out of cover and then be able to possess that enemy and gain their abilities.
One thing that can happen when you're playing cooperatively and competitively is Fettel could pull that enemy up out of cover and Point Man could, just to help create an assist, kill him. But sometimes Fettel might really want to possess that body.
So Fettel could pull an enemy out of cover and Point Man could kill him before Fettel is able to possess that body – steal the kill, steal the body Fettel really wants in order to become more powerful.
Our scoring system rewards cooperative play via assisted kills, but also competitively in terms of what sort of scores you can rank up from getting individual kills. That's one example of how that can play out.
Another example is, if Fettel possesses, for instance, an enemy carrying an explosive device, that's a good advantage for him, because Fettel could detonate the device whenever he wants.
Fettel might run into a crowd of AI and end up getting a large number of kills, but in a chain reaction, that explosion might knock the other player down into Last Stand, and then Fettel could get a number of kills on his own before reviving his partner and getting his partner to come back up.
Further, Point Man using his Slow Mo ability to give himself additional time and ability to eliminate enemies can award Fettel the opportunity to have a special Psychic Melee blast, which is an area of effect attack that shoots a radial splash damage to kill a number of enemies.
So, Point Man and Fettel could co-operate and it's a lot of fun to do so, to have that Psychic Blast and eliminate a lot of enemies. But when you start to compete for the best score, you have to consider whether or not turning on Slow Mo might award your partner, Fettel, the opportunity to get a lot of quick kills fast.
Eurogamer: How does the fear factor the series is known for translate into the co-op experience? Will it still be scary when you're playing co-op?
Heinz Schuller: We're providing a similar narrative track between both single-player and co-op modes. We're not forgoing any of the scares or paranormal moments we've seen in F.E.A.R. before for co-op.
There is an element of working with someone that is different than what you would get in a pure single-player experience. That's one of the reasons we provide both modes Co-op, we provide the same stage but obviously it feels a little bit different because you're playing with someone.
The one thing I'll mention though is Fettel is pretty creepy. By having him there and unleashing paranormal death on the world, it's a new facet of the game I feel helps build more of that unique F.E.A.R. feeling into co-op than you might expect.
Parker Hamilton: Sometimes one player might see something and get startled and then ask the other player if he saw it as well. And then the other player might not have seen it, and you have this uncertainty factor that comes out of it and you get players talking and having people on the edge of their seats trying to figure out whether or not they've seen the exact same thing.