At E3 last week, I had the chance to not only go hands-on with a very outlandish South Park: The Fractured But Whole demo, but also speak to the Game Director, Jason Schroeder.
I watched South Park growing up, but admittedly didn’t play a whole lot of the last game. I know the kind of humour, but the content in the game still surprised me (in a good way). For those that haven’t seen the latest trailer, I had to enter a strip club to track down a certain stripper who apparently held answers to a mystery which I wasn’t exactly given much context for.This certain demo incredibly involved children giving lap dances to adult men, spiking a drink in order to knock out a DJ and a lot of farting (whilst lap dancing). It was hilarious, distasteful and quite frankly refreshing to play through a game which was constantly surprising me and taking me to places that no other franchise would dare.
The first game was universally praised for both the comedic value within, but also the varied and fun gameplay mechanics. When I asked what the team had been added in to ensure fans of the game would be just as impressed this time around, Schroeder said: “We’ve kept the main character as well as the turn based combat, but we’ve now added space so you can move around in combat, so it’s more like a board game/tactic game. There’s also a lot more exploration as well as a crafting system, so you’ve actually got a reason to explore and search for things.”
“WE HAVE SOME OF THE BEST GAME DESIGNERS IN THE WORLD, BUT THEN THEY ALSO NEED TO UNDERSTAND THE CHARACTER NEEDS TO BE ABLE TO FART AT ANY TIME”
It’s been well documented that as with the first game, The Fractured But Whole has received several lengthy delays. When discussing some of the challenges of creating the game, you’d be surprised to know that on paper, the challenges are much simpler than you’d imagine.
“We’ve been building a team which understands why the small details of comedy matter. Interactive comedy is different as everybody working on the game needs to understand how important comedy works. We have some of the best game designers in the world but then they also need to understand that it’s important to be able to fart at any time.” said Schroeder.Speaking more about the reasoning behind the delays, Schroeder was adamant none of the fundamentals had changed since the game had entered development, but it was more about adding in as many minor details and mini-games as the team possibly could.
“I don’t think any of our core concepts have changed, but we’ve just been spending more time polishing everything and executing some of the outlandish mini games, such as the lap dance mechanic you saw today. We wanted to make sure there were enough twists to keep gamers on their toes” said Schroeder.
“For instance, you can take selfies in the game. Things such as discovering a dead body and taking a selfie with it as well as similar over the top things are some of the best moments in the game” continued Schroeder.
“I KNOW THAT WE’VE WORKED CLOSELY WITH UBISOFT WHO HAVE WORKED HARD WITH RATING BOARDS AROUND THE WORLD AND WE’VE TRIED TO KEEP EVERYONE IN THE LOOP ALONG THE WAY”
It’s well-documented the first South Park game was missing a fundamental scene in Australia. This is probably one of the most high-profile cases of the Australian Classification Board forcing a publisher to remove a scene from a game.
Obviously, I had to ask Schroeder about his awareness on this incident and before I could even finish he interrupted with “Oh, I know all about it”. Continuing on, I asked him if he could foresee anything in the game running into a similar issue.He responded: “I know what’s in the game and I also think I understand the line that’s there to be crossed. I know that we’ve worked closely with Ubisoft who have worked hard with rating boards around the world and we’ve tried to keep everyone in the loop along the way. I know that none of the content will shock anyone internally and we want to make sure that everyone gets a chance to play all the content we’ve put in the game this time around”.
I can say with confidence South Park: The Fractured But Whole will turn some heads, but I applaud the creators for pushing the boundaries and daring to cover issues which nobody else would dare touch. If this demo was a good representative of the entire game, then I’m very keen to see what the full game throws at us later this year.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole releases on October 17th for PS4, Xbox One and PC.
Press Start attended E3 2017 as a guest of Ubisoft. This does not prevent us from covering titles exhibited by other publishers, nor does it hinder us from providing honest impressions about Ubisoft’s show line-up.