Metro: Last Light Interview - THQ Talk Terror
Written Wednesday, May 30, 2012 By Lee BradleyView author's profile
After a year in the shadows, Metro: Last Light is back and it’s looking better than ever. Combining scares, thrills and a tense, oppressive atmosphere, we can safely say that it’s already shaping up to be one of 2013‘s hottest games.
So, following our most recent demo (preview here), we jumped at chance to chat to the game’s global brand manager Mark Madsen about what 4A Games has got in store for us. Read on for talk of the shooter’s campaign, the controversial multiplayer and why Eastern European games are so damn nasty.
So it’s been a year since you last showed the game off. How has the game progressed in that time?
Mark Maddsen: Well, we’ve gone and continued to iterate on the systems that we said we were going to address last year. So that’s the core combat, the enemy AI, how we communicate the objectives to the player, the storytelling and how we best to utilise the tools sets. We’re going to tighten everything.
We’ve been working diligently, furiously.
You are dedicated to providing a standout single-player campaign, at a time when many shooters have them merely as side-issue to the multiplayer. Do you feel like you’re battling against the tide?
MM: Well, we do have a multiplayer component to the game, but we worked out our schedule so that we can ensure that we’re gonna build the best single-player experience that we possibly can. That is key for us. If we don’t have that, we don’t have anything.
We wouldn’t have the Metro 2033 fans without the single player campaign. We recognise that and we love single-player games, but it’s aways been the desire of the studio to see how this universe can fit within a multiplayer mode. And it’s not going to be tacked on Team Deathmatch or Capture the Flag. It’s going to be bespoke to the world and it has to make sense within the universe.
Is there anything else you can tell us about the multiplayer?
MM: I can tell you that I can tell you more a little further down the road. *laughs*
So you won’t be talking about it at E3?
How closely does the game tie in to the source material?
MM: Well, Metro 2033 followed the 2033 novel very closely. There’s a Metro 2044 novel out there, but it doesn’t fit with the game universe that we wanted to create. We’re continuing on the story from where you left off on 2033 and we’re also getting story assistance from the author himself, Dmitry Glukhovsky.
Along with games like STALKER and The Witcher, Metro Last Light has a really distinct flavour. Central and Eastern European games aren’t like anyone else’s. Where does that come from?
MM: Well, I guess that same question could be asked as to why Western games feel a particular way and why do Japanese games feel different. It’s what you’re inspiration right outside your front doorstep really is. The Metro games have this bleak, atmospheric quality to them and to be honest, the guys in Kiev Ukraine don’t have to go far for that inspiration.
And from a business point of view, we’re not getting in the way of what they’re trying to do. We’re not trying it Westernise it. That unique perspective is key to the experience.
From today’s demo it looks like there’s going to be a stronger psychological horror aspect to the game. Is that what we can expect from the rest of the game?
MM: Yeah, what you saw is a taste of things to come. We’re definitely going to dial up more of the psychological thriller aspect of it and play with the supernatural phenomenon as well, reinforcing that this is not a Western post-apocalypse. This is something that we’re really not familiar with, but in a good way.
Compared to last year demo at E3 there was far less action here. It was a quieter, scarier demo. How are you defining Last Light? Is it an action game, or is it a survival horror?
MM: Well, err, it’s all of those.
Does it lean in any particular direction though?
MM: I would say more towards survival horror than action adventure, just because we have a more unique flavour to it. But in terms of the balance of the structure, there are going to be moments where you’re still going to able to explore the station cities and see how life has evolved over the past 20 years. We’re keeping that essence intact.
You've said you're concentrating on single-player, how long are you hoping the game will be?
MM: I think if you follow the critical path, somewhere around 10-12 hours, which is pretty competitive. If you don’t stick to the critical path it will be more than that, obviously.
We didn’t see any stealth sections in this latest demo. Will Last Light retain them? We liked the idea, but one of the biggest complaints with 2033 is that they didn’t work very well.
MM: Yeah, the stealth sections are still in and we’re improving on them. I remember there were times in the first game where the enemy would be alerted for no reason at all and were just on high alert the whole time. We didn’t get it right the first time, we will this time.
Visually, the game is looking great. Is it a new engine?
MM: We’re building on the engine we used for Metro 2033. We’re very proud of it. it can do a lot of things and the team gets inspiration when they see other engines working - ‘Oh they set this benchmark? I think we can do a little better.’ It’s just motivational.
How advanced is it? Will it be transferable to the next generation of consoles?
MM: I think we’ll be fine. There will be some things that we’ll have to tweak no doubt, depending on the platform. But as far as I know the engine should be ubiquitous.
You showed us the live action trailer for the game today. You’ve said that Metro Last Light will have a bigger marketing push, can we expect more stuff like that? It was pretty amazing.
MM: First and foremost we’re going to appeal to the core Metro 2033 fans and we want to grow that audience from there. We’re not starting from a perspective of making it mass market. We know where we can top off and I think that if we’re in the same place as Dead Space, Mass Effect, even Half-Life, then we’re going to be very happy indeed.
Mark, thanks for your time.