Following on from last week's announcement that Electronic Arts will publish Mercenaries 2: World in Flames, we tracked down Pandemic Studios president Josh Resnick for a quick chat about the move, and how the game will improve on its critically acclaimed predecessor.
Eurogamer: Can you explain why this sequel has moved from LucasArts to EA?
Pandemic: Lucas was a great partner for us on Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction and EA will be a great partner on Mercenaries 2: World in Flames. Each partner has their strengths, and EA is the best fit for Mercs2.
Eurogamer: How will Mercenaries 2 improve on the first game? Is it built on a new engine?
Pandemic: We joke that Mercenaries 2 is a true sequel of mass destruction, blowing the crap out of everything in the first game had and a lot more. We've built a new engine from the ground up. Mercenaries 2 is built on a totally new next-gen engine that will allow our bad-ass Mercs to take the action to a level that wasn't possible on earlier platforms. Aside from dealing with the scale and detail of next generation games, the engine has a fundamentally different architecture to deliver a much bigger open-world experience. The sheer number of things that you can grab, shoot, drive, fly and blow-the-crap-out-of is astonishing.
Eurogamer: How is the next-gen development going? Which platform are you finding easier to work with?
Pandemic: It's going well. It's taken a lot of effort to build a game this big, but we're incredibly excited by all of the things we're able to let the player do and the visceral thrills you get from all of the next generation chaos and destruction.
Eurogamer: Will you be going for the "deck of cards" system again?
Pandemic: The 'deck of 52' device that we used in the original game was topical and worked well, but we've decided that moving to a different story and mission progression paradigm will serve us better for the sequel.
Eurogamer: What online multiplayer features can we expect?
Pandemic: Nothing to announce at this time, but we'll have a lot to talk about when the time comes.
Eurogamer: The original wasn't lacking in gameplay time, but arguably got a little too challenging for some. Have you smoothed out the kinks in this one? Will the game length still be as expansive as most openworld games?
Pandemic: We've done a lot of research on the last game and are moving forward with those lessons. This is still a massive game, but we've got some new ideas on how we make it work better for a variety of skill levels.
Eurogamer: The game was set in North Korea last time - what's the setting for this one?
Pandemic: This time the setting is Venezuela. It's a great location with a wonderful variety of terrain and a really distinct look that lets us design the most exciting gameplay possible around it, and we've been able to tap into the cool vibe of the area. Other than being totally insane, there wasn't much cool in North Korea.
Mercenaries 2 is due out on PlayStation 3 later this year. Despite persistent rumours, neither Pandemic or EA has confirmed whether the game will appear on Xbox 360.