This week, Eurogamer tracked down Wes Eckhart, producer on
Delta Force - Black Hawk Down, and levelled some questions at him
ahead of the game's November 29th release date. Wes and his
development team are based in NovaLogic's development studio and
corporate offices in Calabasas, California. The team working on
DF-BHD has a rich development history at NovaLogic, having dealt
with previous Delta Force games, the Commanche series, F-22
Lightning 3, Armoured Fist 3 and Tachyon: The Fringe.
First off, thanks for taking the time to speak to us. It's always
nice to catch up with those directly involved with the games!
No problem Tom, it's always a pleasure to speak to Eurogamer!
Delta Force - Black Hawk Down is based on the conflict which took
place in Somalia back in the early 1990s, when a UN aid operation
became a full-scale occupation of the country in an attempt to oust
local warlords. Of course, Ridley Scott delivered a stunning
realisation of the conflict in last year's movie of the same name,
but is DF-BHD based on the film, or your interpretation of events?
DF-BHD is not an adaptation of Mark Bowden's Black Hawk Down or
Ridley Scott's movie adaptation; it is in fact our own
interpretation of the events surrounding the conflict. Both the
book and movie cover only the most high profile incident in the
campaign, where US Army Rangers and Special Forces were sent into
Mogadishu to capture a number of Habr Gedir clan officials and the
subsequent events where the Black Hawk helicopters were shot down
by RPGs. The game focuses on events leading up to October 3rd,
specifically the 10th Mountain's defence of UN relief efforts, and
Task Force Ranger's mission to hunt down and capture Aidid and his
We've heard that the game is split into five campaigns - one
directly based on the harrowing events seen in Scott's war epic.
Why did you opt for this approach instead of just concentrating on
the familiar aspects of the conflict?
Actually, the game is set up as one continuous campaign, with two
major elements. The player starts out as a member of the US 10th
Mountain Division. In this capacity, the player is tasked with
safeguarding UN relief efforts. As the game evolves, the player
becomes a member of Task Force Ranger, and as part of the Task
Force, the player is sent on missions to capture Aidid's top people
and eliminate the threat of the Habr Gedir militia.
EurogamerPresumably you didn't actually wander around Mogadishu (or
flyby in a chopper!) in the process of making the game - where did
your designers draw their inspiration for the carefully constructed
Since Delta Force - Black Hawk Down is based on real events, we
pulled research material from a variety of sources. Aside from
books, articles, and news footage, we've also been working closely
with a number of Subject Matter Experts [with whom we'll have a few
words in the near future -Ed]. We've been fortunate to work with
two former members of Task Force Ranger, as well as a former
Special Forces weapons and tactics expert.
The SMEs have spent several days at a time with the team, advising
us on a variety of issues including room clearing techniques for
the AI, motion capture moves, mission planning, and proper weapons
You've stated that you're aiming for a cinematic feel,
name-checking EA's Medal of Honor Allied Assault as a recent game
which managed this - the differing nature of the two conflicts
aside, how do you think the two games compare?
I think both games offer compelling single player gameplay based on
real world events. Both games are very story driven, and immerse
the player in the environment. The biggest difference between the
two games is multiplayer. This being our fifth title in the PC
Delta Force series, we have a lot of experience with large-scale
multiplayer. We will continue to offer our 32 player multiplayer
games via Novaworld.
EurogamerDF-BHD has been described as more action-oriented than
previous Delta Force games, and having seen Scott's movie that's
not too hard to imagine, but does this mean that you've said
goodbye to the more considered approach it's necessary to adopt in
Delta Force 1-3?
Certainly not, although the environments players fight in are a
dramatic departure from previous Delta Force games. Because of the
range of missions, there will be plenty of long-range outdoor
engagements, whereby gamers will fail missions if they go in guns
blazing. When it comes to close quarters fighting, players will
still have to be cautious. Players will need to systematically
clear rooms in a building to make sure they're safe. The best way
to do this is for the player or his team-mate to throw a flashbang
grenade into the room. Once the grenade goes off, the team swarms
in to deal with the now dazed enemy.
The game is based on a modified version of the (excellent)
Commanche 4 engine, rather than the Delta Force engine used for
Land Warrior and most recently Task Force Dagger. How well does the
C4 engine cope with Mogadishu and the game's other environments?
The type of city fighting in DF-BHD is new to the series. In using
the Comanche 4 engine we're able to achieve an enormous city that
the player can run through or fly over. The size of the city should
avoid giving players the fenced-in feeling of corridor shooters.
There will be plenty of rooftops to snipe from, and plenty of long
streets for the player to navigate. At the same time, we've added
some cramped alleys and basement areas for players who pine for
close quarter combat and want to explore.
EurogamerSomali rebels don't really try to stand out from the average
Somali civilian - will their human camouflage be reflected in BHD,
or will everybody on screen outside of your unit act as cannon
It will be tricky to distinguish the civilians from the bad
guys… That's one of the challenges of the game. Since the
militia members really didn't wear uniforms, the only way to tell
the bad guys from the civilians is that the bad guys will be the
ones holding weapons. The player will have to constantly exercise
caution as he's moving through the city.
Ridley Scott gave the Somalis rocket propelled grenades, machine
guns, pistols and anti-aircraft guns - what sort of tools will the
enemies in Black Hawk Down use, and how well equipped will the
AK-47s, RPGs, and .50 cals mounted on the backs of trucks
(Technicals) are all staples of the opposition in Delta Force -
Black Hawk Down. To counter these forces, players will have access
to the CAR-15 and M-16 assault rifles, several different sniper
rifles, light machine guns like the SAW and M-60, and a variety of
explosives and vehicle mounted weapons.
Finally, you're working on a co-operative mode with BHD, as well as
deathmatch options for the more belligerent. How will the various
players communicate orders in-game, will there perhaps be a command
hierarchy, and will the co-operative support work over the
There is no inherent command structure in multiplayer. It's up to
players to work together and sort out who's doing what in
multiplayer. The usual team text chat is available for teams to
work out their strategies.
Player's will be able to play coop over the Internet. We will most
likely limit it to four players per mission in coop only. For other
multiplayer game types, we can have up to 32 players.
Wes Eckhart, thanks for your time. Look out for Delta Force - Black
Hawk Down appearing on store shelves on November 29th.
Buy things with globes on them
And other lovely Eurogamer merch in our official store!