Dead Space fans have been treated to a very early look at EA's highly anticipated remake of the sci-fi horror favourite as part of an "unorthodox" new livestream - and while the project is still "really, really far from being done", according to developer EA Motive, the included new footage and details might be enough to keep interest piqued until more is ready to be revealed.
EA Motive's decision to show off its Dead Space remake so early in development is, by its own admission, a "bit unorthodox" for EA, but it says it wants "to be open with the communication" in order gather feedback on the direction it's taking.
To that end, the developer has shared a few early details - and, in some cases, glimpses - of the remake, beginning with a look at its initial efforts to enhance the original Dead Space's visuals for the modern era. As shown during the livestream, this involved the art team revisiting the 2008 game's legacy assets, adding details to existing geometry, applying shaders, materials, and VFX, plus a first pass at lighting to get the mood right. The results, as you'll see if you hop through the livestream below, are certainly striking.
Ultimately, EA Motive says its aim is to create an experience that remains "true to the source" while still "improving a lot of different elements" to "make it relevant for today". As such, the fundamentals remain the same - this is still the story of engineer Isaac Clarke, isolated and alone onboard the mining ship USG Ishimura, as he battles the terrifying Necromorphs in an attempt to find his girlfriend Nicole and solve the overarching mystery - but EA Motive says it also wants to "enrich" the original story and "build on top of" what's come before.
For instance, it plans to incorporate some of the Dead Space series' "bigger universe", tying the original narrative more closely with the sequels and books through new audio logs and other forms of world-building. We might also learn more about the supporting characters, and be given the means to look for Nicole and learn what happened to her during the outbreak.
Significantly, unlike in the 2008 original, Isaac won't be a silent protagonist this time around. Gunner Wright, who played the character in Dead Space's sequels, will reprise the role in the remake, with EA Motive explaining it wants Isaac to speak to give him more agency in the story. However, it says Issac won't break immersion by chattering away while alone in the dark, and notes it's established two rules: he'll only speak when spoken to, and will sometimes speak in a situation where it would feel strange if he remained silent.
As for gameplay, EA Motive has teased some of the changes its striving for. To create a more immersive, intense experience, for instance, it wants traversing the USG Ishimura to be "fully seamless" and "unbroken", with no cuts or loading.
Other tweaks include overhauled zero-g traversal; 360-degree freedom and the ability to interact while flying gives the team more flexibility when creating zero-g environments, meaning it can incorporate new routes and challenges to surprise players that know the game.
It's also working on an improved dismemberment and damage system, introducing a notion it calls "peeling". The goal is to enhance non-carving weapons, which weren't quite as visceral or clear in the original game. As such, it's developed body destruction technology that enables players to remove flesh and expose bones on enemies - giving better feedback on how effective weapons are, how close the creature is to dying, and so on. It's also brought impalements over from later Dead Space games and has tweaked dismemberment so that limbs can be partially severed, enabling them to be grabbed with kinesis and tossed back for more creative kills.
And that's pretty much it as far as details go in this very early look at Dead Space. The game - which EA Motive once again stresses will have no microtransactions - is said to be around a year into development, so it may be some time before Isaac and pals are ready for their long-awaited return, this time on PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.