Thief 4: 10 Ways It Can Better Its Pedigree

Posted By | On 12th, Jul. 2011 Under Feature | Follow This Author @GNReith

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Despite the mixed reception of his latest project, Epic Mickey, Warren Spector is a man genuinely adored by the gaming populace. Of all the games he’s been involved in, few yield such fan devotion as the Thief series. Pioneering both stealth mechanics and 3D gameplay, Thief: The Dark Project was a revolutionary title. Fast forward eleven years and, with two sequels now in the franchise, Eidos Montreal announce that Thief 4 is in development. We’re still waiting on a fourth Thief game but, in the mean time, here are ten things we reckon could help the upcoming sequel better its rather overbearing predecessors.

Keep the choice of viewpoints

It's nice to have a choice of nightmares

2004’s Thief: Deadly Shadows made a lot of changes to the series’ formula, but one of the more noticeable ones was the ability to switch between a 1st and 3rd person perspective. Whilst the first person viewpoints of the original Thief games made for an immersive experience, it’s sometimes nice to be able to get a bit of perspective on things. This rings particularly true for stealth games, when you want to always be aware of your surrounding environment. Thief 3 did a good job of allowing the player the choice of perspectives at all times, and Thief 4 would do well to keep this handy little feature.

Get rid of the undead enemies

Not these guys again...

The Thief games have taught me one important lesson in life: You can never carry enough holy water. Deadly Shadows was a particular offender of this, and I damn near stopped playing it on account of Garrett’s first encounter with undead enemy types. When encountering undead enemies, conventional weapons like Garrett’s sword are rendered useless. I’m all for pushing players outside their comfort zones, but the undead enemies were a step too far. Hell, all of the non-human enemy types were just annoying.

Less linear

More non-linear objectives. It's the only way forward

All the games in the Thief series have done a good job of allowing players to approach objectives in a non-linear fashion. Deadly Shadows in particular also allowed players to earn allegiance with different factions in The City based on their choices in the game. This idea really added some spice to the game, but it could be taken even further. Some of the biggest games of this generation have all allowed players a huge degree of choice, and Thief 4 would do well to learn from them.


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  • Zac

    I wouldn’t mind playing a female thief, in fact I would prefer it, but that is just my bias. That said, from the screenshot I saw it seems to be that we’re going to be getting more of Garrett, then again, it was blurry, so you never know.

  • I agree with all of those points! Especially the one about opening up the locations without going sandbox. A female protagonist would also help give it a point of difference to Assassin’s Creed.

    My favourite game on the Xbox last gen was Thief 3. I really hope this one gets the attention it deserves and is detailed soon.

  • Are you daft, man?! The very essence of the experience depends on it’s first person perspective! I wonder if you’ve ever played with a decent set of headphones. The limited field of view is part of the immersion factor, especially since it forces you to use your ears! LISTEN!!!
    The Undead is very much hit or miss, but again, because of the limited ammo, you have to rely on STEALTH. Conservation of resources. Again, part of the challenge, and half the fun.
    And Thief I and II are about as non-linear as you can get! Granted, Deadly Shadows wasn’t much in that regard, especially thanks to the constraints of console development (Really). The factions were rather broken in the third game and didn’t contribute much, if anything, to the experience. But the whole “free-roaming” part between missions was poorly executed, not only by the loading zones but lack of the “free”. Rope arrows are sorely missed.
    Thief has always been about Garrett’s journey. Perhaps a story may have ended with Deadly Shadows, but truthfully, I wouldn’t mind if that chapter of the story were rewritten altogether. A side story with another protagonist can be well done, as shown in T2X, but without Garrett, I don’t feel it right to consider it a true Thief 4.

  • There is a very loyal Thief community that I am sure will be very disappointed to read this article – it reinforces fears that the game will be altered in significant ways to appeal to the mass market (and often console gamer) market.

    And that Thief should draw comparisons with Assassins Creed . . .

    • sucks that they said that theyre trying to make it an equivalent of an Assassin’s creed game. Make it a Thief game! Thats why its called Thief! Not Thief’s Creed!! lol.

  • so a small child of indeterminate gender appears 2 minutes 58 seconds into the closing cutscene of a game that’s lasted several hours, stays on screen for around 15 seconds saying 8 words in a high pitched child like voice that ok could possibly be female

    and you take this as an acknowledgement that the worlds greatest thief is going to hang up his blackjack and turn over the lockpicks to some female rookie replacement

    what next ? retire lara croft from tomb raider because of an event that happens in the closing scenes that you’d miss if you blinked ?

    you want third person perspective, not because it makes things better but because it makes things easier, you can see round a corner without sticking your head out and getting it shot off

    you want lots of ordnance that can deal with zombies and other hard to kill AI, again because it makes it easier

    managing your inventory and dealing with the problem you are presented with in a stealthy manner is a major part of the game, you aren’t supposed to circle strafe until you run out of arrows

    factions make the game easier, you make friends by completing some inane loyalty test and suddenly half the AI stop trying to kill you on sight, OK you don’t have to make friends but then you won’t find out what happens when you do which is a bit of a waste as you paid for this game and you want to find all it’s secrets not just some, so you suck up to your enemies and the game gets easier.

    it’s supposed to be hard, if I wanted easy or “run and gun” I’d go play something else

  • Choice of 1st- and 3rd person viewpoints creates level architecture constraints that force the leve designers to alter the realistic size of furniture, make doors wider and rooms unrealistically large, ceilings too high, and switches and items larger so that you could more easily spot them suing a camera that’s farther away. In 3rd person view mode you can’t see anything wrong with it. The developers of Max Payne have demonstrated very clearly with screenshots how much harder it would be to play the game with realistic architecture proportions instead of ones altered to accommondate 3rd person. And because Thief is primarily a 1st person game, everything should be designed for that, and if it looks like it’s still playable in 3rd person, let there be the ability to switch perspectives. Otherwise, leave it 1st person.

    The non-human enemy types are there to provide varying challenge, and to force the players to adopt different strategies. You can’t knock them out or kill them with regular weapons. You need to conserve your special tools, or rely even more on stealth than usual. Saying that Thief has too few special tools for taking out special enemies tells us only one thing. Thief is not for you, and your opinions on Thief are as irrelevant to the discussion as the opinions of vegetarians are on a food crisis.

    The game protagonist, Garrett wishes to harm no one. But that doesn’t mean he has any wishes to ally with any of the factions. He isn’t friendly towards anyone, because he steals from anyone. He also doesn’t want to cut his profits by joining a guild, and he doesn’t want the illusion of trust to take his guard down so that someone could stab him in the back. By all means have the game be less linear. A faction system just doesn’t have a place in Thief.

    Improved AI is always a step forward. And there was an important word in the paragraph. “Random”. Randomization of certain things always brings replay value, and more excitement into the gameplay when you don’t know what to expect.

    I really don’t know what to say about upgrades. But I know that “stealth upgrades” are a very bad idea. When you play Thief, you want to get better at stealth. What you don’t want is being able to bribe the game to make it’s core gameplay mechanic easier. And if you do, others don’t want the game to require you to make it easier to play it. Any kind of upgrades that force you to re-learn anything you’ve been practicing are bad.

    Expanded exploration is always good. Mission locations sohuldn’t just be the courtyard and the house. You should be able to go to the roof, to the streets outside, or to the forest in the backyard.

    No multiplayer is good, because Thief is a single player game. A non-canon co-op mode isn’t entirely out of the question, but the developers shouldn’t waste time putting it in the release. Let the fans have the tools to make it happen for free later on.

    New characters are a given since basically everyone who has been introduced has died in the previous games already. But if you think that it’s in any way possible that Garrett has a “protégée” in Thief 4, you should first find out who Garrett is, before you start making baseless speculation on his future. Garrett got his wish and got left alone. If you think it’s good storytelling that he changed his mind 5 minutes after the fact, you must be one of those who watch porn because of the plot.

  • After reading this piece I had a lot of comments to make. But it seems Jack, David (not Hilton), esme and especially Plox pretty much covered what I was going to say. The author may be a Deadly Shadows fan. But knows little about the real Thief series.

  • If mantling, swimming, rope arrows are still there – I’ll buy it.
    If it turns into an “action shooter” – I’ll NOT buy it.
    If the game forces me to play as a female I’ll NOT buy it.
    If stealth isn’t 100% of the game – I’ll NOT buy it.

    It is essential that the viewpoint is first person but If third person view as a toggle is okay.

  • I’ll add a few more reasons that will decide whether I buy this new Thief.
    ( I might say that I’m already afraid that’s it’s going all TODAYish just by the silly way they write Thi4f)
    If killing is REQUIRED – I’ll NOT buy.
    If an entire mission cannot be completed by stealth ONLY – I’ll NOT buy it.
    If it doesn’t have the “FEEL” of Thief 1 and 2 – I may buy it but won’t like it.
    I want to play a sneaky, non-violent thief. One that huddles in a darkened corner for ten minutes terrified of the guards.
    One who needs to steal to pay the rent – not to save the frigging world!

    Factions – duh!
    I want to play a loner without family, friends, factions or allies. Just like a real thief – an untrustworthy, lowlife wimpy thief. But, of course, one that is dragged into adventures and situations that are difficult and “Thief 1 wierdy”.

    And I want lots of rooftops – methods of traversing the whole city by rooftops, sewers and waterways – swimming, crawling, mantling, leaping, climbing box stacking, breakable glass windows and picking locks. Would also like swinging and jumping as with the rope arrow.

  • double post

  • Jim

    I’m sorry, i disagree with nearly everything you say, I loved the first thief and even all the freaky undead things, also loved the dark creepy atmosphere, it should stay in first person as the 3rd person thing was a console compromise , also maybe in the future a mod will be available to test multiplayer it might work eventually who knows

  • I disagree with nearly everything in this stupid article. I’m glad that people like Jack, David, esme and Plox with friends did some decent commenting. I sure hope the devs of the fourth game do NOT reason the same way as the author of this horrible article!!!

  • I think the first the I played Thief 1 I was quite addicted. Thief 2 is cool also.
    I never play thief 3 anymore because I can’t stand the stupid character voices
    and, the transitions between areas! Lastly, 1st person IS THE ONLY WAY TO PLAY! I disagree with everything you say in this STUPID ARTICLE!!!

  • Thief 1 and 2 was about a dark atmosphere in a strange city. It was about cool cutscenes, cool monologues from Garrett, an awesome level disparity, being short on water arrows when you sorely needed them… all of this combined to make a great game.

    Thief 3 was about ugly, cartoony cutscenes, failed implementation of good ideas (think of the Keeper Assassin… anyone else was particularly dissapointed by these guys?), useless mini-games and spending your WHOLE GODDAMN LOOT on equipment, which you wind up hoarding anyway because Garrett’s blackjack is a weapon of mass destruction. Except against those freaky undead guys in the asylum (which was my favourite level, by the way, so screw this idea of having no undeads).

  • One thing is 100% sure, Eidos Montreal will Screw it up big time.

    The rumor mill has it that Consoles will be a platform for Thief 4 as well as multiplayer. That alone will destroy it. See, the suits at EM are forced to make a profitable game. A PC only platform with no MMORPG does not equate to $$$$.

    A lot has changed since 1998, people.

    This is one game I am not anxious about.

  • I would have to strongly disagree with a few points in this article. Thief 4 should be only first person because that way its the most immersive and if you would have 3rd person, you would be able to see what Garrett can’t see which makes the experience feel fake. There should be undead enemies no matter how annoying they are but in the mentality of Thief 1 and 2. In those games, they were extremely both creeepy and frightening and the first person view point made it scarier since you would never know exactly where the undead were. I agree with everything else though.

  • Dissolution0fEternity

    T3, one of the greatest games I ever played. Im not happy about this new reboot, especially no factions and supernatural elements. Now people associate this game with Dishonored, come on!.

  • ToxicFox

    All Propaganda. all of it. except of the linear bit. Simply any game could use more of that.


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