Eurogamer: There's three characters in the game: are they all as important as each other? We've only really seen Mattias and his snazzy beard so far.
Cameron Brown: That's true, but no, they're all as important as each other. There's been no grand plan, but you've probably seen more Mattias because he has a very distinctive look to him and has sort of become the poster boy for Mercs 2. But you can play the entire game as any of the characters and all are equally powerful and cool and have their unique attitude and presentation and cinematics. It's an equal opportunities experience for the three characters. Mattias has certainly had more than his share of the limelight, but you should like that; we're featuring the European guy!
Eurogamer: Campaign co-op is another of your big features, and seems to be a bit 'zeitgeisty'. Is there still a limit on how far players can travel away from each other?
Cameron Brown: There is a limit, but it's a pretty big one. In practice you don't really notice it. For example, we've been doing focus tests where we invite fresh gamers to come and test the difficulty curve and the tuning and stuff like that, and we've had people testing out the co-op. In a one-hour session of 16 players - so eight pairs - only one person hit the tether. And that was a totally random case of wandering off to the middle of nowhere.
For pure technical reasons we can't sustain you going to opposite ends of the map, although earlier on in the project we were hoping we could. At least for us and possibly for everyone we're forging a bit of new ground having co-op in the full streaming world, and it's definitely a technical curve-ball for the programmers. There was a technical mountain to climb in terms of letting you be able to go to opposite ends of the map, and at the end of the day we decided the cost benefit was not there. Co-op is all about co-op, right? The whole idea is to work together and to co-ordinate.
Eurogamer: What other multiplayer modes have you got?
Cameron Brown: We are 100 percent focused on the co-op campaign. We're not doing any mini-games or anything like that, but are concentrating on the drop-in, drop-out, full Mercs experience with your buddy.
Eurogamer: Do you chaps have plans for a Mercenaries 2 demo any time soon?
Cameron Brown: Yes, yes we do. I'm not sure of dates or anything like that but yes, we want to do a demo.
Eurogamer: What about downloadable content for the future?
Cameron Brown: Yeah. There has been a lot of effort and energy put into downloadable content. We have it up and running on the consoles where you can trigger it and do it. We're definitely playing with it and it's definitely something we see as an enormous opportunity.
Eurogamer: Is there much difference between the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions, then?
Cameron Brown: In terms of game content it is the same game on both platforms. But I sense a strong danger in being misquoted by the fans in the forums if I say anything specific about any platform [laughs]. Owners of each platform will have a great Mercenaries 2 experience.
Eurogamer: Something else that is surrounding Pandemic (and BioWare) at the moment is your new owner EA and its new focus on quality. What's this change been like on a rank and file level? Have you even noticed?
Cameron Brown: You mean apart from the compulsory uniforms we have to wear now? On the development floor we haven't noticed much difference other than we are able to do stuff like when a large game like Mercs is not fully cooked we can put it back in the oven and close the door for a bit longer, which is obviously awesome. But day to day it still feels like Pandemic. We still come to the same building and have the same business cards. Pandemic has a certain scrappy entrepreneurial spirit to it that I've always enjoyed and that definitely feels the same.
Something I really like about the way EA has restructured using the label model is that we don't deal with a lot of execs. We basically deal with Frank Gibeau who's the head of the label and John Riccitiello who's Frank's boss. We're in an interesting position because we had a relationship with John during the Elevation period when BioWare and Pandemic was the model. Frank is an incredibly smart guy, is very quality-focused, and was just down yesterday visiting us and that was exactly what he was talking about, that it all comes down to making great games. Certainly the internal rhetoric matches the external rhetoric as far as I can tell.
Mercenaries 2: World in Flames is due out on PS3, 360, PC and PS2 on 5th September.