Diego and Shannon got to talk all things Thief with Game Director, Nicolas Cantin and PR Manager, Adam Phillips.
Thief is out on PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360 and PC on February 27th.
Diego: I’ve noticed that most of the gameplay happens during the night. Can we expect any scenes to happen during the day?
Nicolas: No it’s a night setting game. Garrett is a creator of the night. It’s part of him and apart of the DNA of the previous Thief. It doesn’t mean though, that we don’t have a lot of variation within the night settings. A lot of different things to make sure it’s not going to be the same thing. So yeah, each mission is completely different is different.
Adam: The original game was set at night and it’s always about light and shadows. That’s not to say that there won’t be some interesting things later. You saw the beginning of the game where its more of the golden age and that’s really interesting.
Diego: There’s a lot of stealth play involved but you’ve now introduced a bit more combat. Are you ever punished for players not playing stealthily and attacking your enemies.
Nicolas: We definitely encourage stealth play . It’s one of the main aspects of the game. We definitely provide a lot of tools to play different if you choose to. You saw all the arrows that you can buy. If you choose to be more aggressive, the game definitely allows you to do that, however it isn’t with the DNA of the game to play this way.
We definitely know that it will be more challenging to get through sections more aggressively but it’s definitely fun to give it a go. I saw some people getting rid of 3 guards aggressively without focus and for us that was unbelievable because it’s incredibly tough. For some people you’re going to get really good at timing combat. We mainly built combat in as a defence mechanism. Your main goal as a thief is to not get caught. We like to give you a window of opportunity to defend yourself and flee. Even though 10 years, if you were caught BOOM you’re dead, we didn’t want players to feel locked in this time around.
Shannon: So in saying that, is the reboot more combat focused than the original?
Nicolas: No it’s definitely not something we encourage. We’ve just added in more tools to be able to go that way. You will see that you can knock a guard over and quickly flee and go climbing then disappear in the shadows. This is something we wanted to add to the experience. What we didn’t want players to do was attack guards, die and then be frustrated. It’s all a learning experience
Adam: Once someone defined the gameplay of Thief as a series of choices. We wanted to give players the choice of freedom. We didn’t want to lock players into having to die and then have to quick load and restart. It’s even cooler to be able to push off an enemy, smack them on the head and run away. Do we punish combat? No, that’s the cool choice. You can buy the blast arrow and it almost gives you a bazooka in order to attack. But if that’s all you’re going to do, then you’re going to miss out on stuff. As soon as you attack a guard, their conversation will stop. You really want to be listening to guards in order to get a lot of back stories and new missions.
Nicolas: it’s not about punishing at all but stealthier gameplay is definitely more rewarding. The more you explore, the more you’re going to discover hints and cool little side quests.
Diego: Are there any uses of the second screens such as the Smartglass or Playstation Vita?
Adam: We actually a companion app. If you preorder the game from EB Games you will get the app for free. There is a free light version as well that has limited features. The app basically features a prima guide with all the maps, there is a wiki that IGN have created, there is a lot of character background stuff and a lot of exclusive stuff as well that you won’t find anywhere else.
Nicolas: Yeah for example, if you find a new location in the game you can read all about it in your app and this just adds to the narrative experience. There is a lot of stuff that you can really dig into in the game but if you go into your app, you will find even more.
Adam: We’ve really fleshed out the whole story in this app. You can go much deeper than you have before with character development.
Diego: The game will be releasing across PS3, Xbox 360, PS4 and Xbox One. How hard was it designing the game across all of these platforms which such different hardware?
Nicolas: it was a good challenge but one of the main goals was to keep the main gameplay experience across all platforms. It was definitely a challenge for us, for sure. definitely if you play the PS4, PC or Xbox One game, you’re going to have the i version. It’s definitely adds more to the immersion through the graphics. We also have a few small features such as the light bar on the controller, the motion aiming. The goal was to make sure that we were respecting all consoles and make sure that the gameplay experience was the same. This was the main challenge there but it was really exciting to work on the new consoles, for the immersion. Being able to walk into a back alley and seeing all the fog really creates a living and breathing world which was important to us.
Adam: There is something that was important to us. A lot of games in this instance will have one studio create one version and different studio create another version. Our studio at Eidos Montreal did every single game across all platforms, so Nic has made sure that they all look good across all platforms. We’ve just released the specs for PC as well. As you’d expect if you’ve got a high-end PC you’re going to get those shiny graphics. But the game is really scaleable. Some guys have even been on the forums and asked if our minimum specs are real.
Diego: Will the storyline be understandable for someone who knows nothing about the game and will there be throwbacks to players who are familiar with the lore in thief.
Nicolas: it’s completely a reinvention of the whole story and the Thief IP. Yes, the new gamer will have a new experience and be really welcome as you won’t have to have played the old games. It’s not a sequel or prequel so everyone will definitely enjoy the experience. In saying that, we’ve paid a lot of homage. A lot of locations are coming from the previous games. All the districts are coming, the maps are coming and we’ve definitely respected who Garrett was. I think that the Thief fans will definitely find a lot of homage and really appreciated the game. They’re going to feel like they’re in a Thief game. It’s really something we worked hard on to make sure that old fans enjoyed it whilst welcoming new fans of the series. We didn’t want new players to ever feel like they’d missed something.
Diego: How are the next-gen console features taken advantage of in this game?
Nicolas: It’s definitely the immersion. Especially the voice controls. When you use them you almost feel like you’re becoming Garrett. All these little controller elements are just really cool to play with. If you play current-gen, you’re not gonna feel like something is missing. If you do play with the PS4, you’re just going to appreciate all of these little things so much more.
Diego: How long can players expect the main story to last?
Nicolas: It’ll really depend on your play style. If you want to open all the drawers to get every bit of loot, you’ll really extend that experience. After every mission you can go to the city hub and explore wherever you want or take side quests. From these things it can be extended. The main campaign isn’t something we can put a number on. We want the people to be able to finish the main story whilst still providing something else for the collectors. If you’re always crouching within the shadows, then it’ll definitely take you longer.
Adam: There’s also replay value with the leader boards and at the end of every chapter, you would’ve seen that you get a % grade. You might see that you only collected 10 percent of loot and that might inspire you to go back and try to get more. I don’t know if you saw it but we also have collectible loot. Some people who might not consider themselves collectors, but once you get 3 and see that you only have 2 left, your opinion might change.
The city hub is really a change of pace from the rest of the gameplay. You can explore as much as you want, or not explore as much as you want. Eidos Montreal are all about value for money. If you look at a game like Deus Ex, it’s an absolutely huge game. If you want to finish the story missions, then you can do it quicker but hopefully we’ve created a world that you’ll want to spend more time in and fall in love with. It comes back to giving gamers options. If you’re forced into something it’s always going to be less fun, if a developer provides options then it’s going to be a better experience.