Having made multiple Dishonored games and the excellent Prey, the geniuses at Arkane Studios have earned not only our admiration, but also our trust. If a new Arkane game comes out, you’ve gotta pay attention- it’s almost like an unwritten rule. We have, as such, been paying attention to the upcoming Deathloop for a while now, and with its recent showing at State of Play, the game continued to look exciting. And here, we’re going to talk about some of the biggest new details we’ve learned about the game.
Deathloop’s time loop structure is something that we’ve known about for a while now, but how exactly does that function? In a blog update on the Bethesda website following the State of Play showing, game director Dinga Bakaba provided some details on that. Once you’re past the game’s prologue, it’s going to open up completely, and across each of its multiple areas and its four times of day, you’ll be able to skip to whichever one you want at any time (though you can only visit a district once per loop). If, for instance, there’s a particular weapon that you need for future loops that can only be found at the end of the day, you’ll be able to skip right ahead to it and add it to your arsenal. We already know, of course, that there’s plenty of variation not only across the game’s multiple districts, but also within a single district across the available time periods, which means players are going to be encouraged to keep exploring areas even if you’ve already explored them before.
TIME LOOP DETAILS
Time loop premises are always fascinating, no matter how many commonly we see them (and we’ve been seeing them rather commonly of late), and Deathloop is doing some interesting things with it. Everyone on Blackreef island, for instance, is suffering from a very particular kind of amnesia, in that every time the loop resets, every person – including protagonist Colt – loses their memories. The only one who’s immune to this is Juliana, and soon enough, Colt begins retaining his memories as well. That raises some interesting questions about what makes the two of them so special, and we’re curious to learn more.
If you’re worried that time loop resets in Deathloop will mean losing all your progress and having to start from scratch each time- well, don’t be. Residuum is going to be your best friend. And what exactly is that? Residuum is a resource that you can spend to make any of your unlocks permanent, which means that you can spend it to ensure that you keep your favourite weapons, abilities, or upgrades across loops. It is a limited resource, of course, which means you’ll have to be careful about how you spend it (though killing the bosses, known as the Visionaries, nets you large quantities of it), but it does mean that there’s going to be permanent progression in the game.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an Arkane game without insane abilities, and Deathloop seems to have that covered as well. Its abilities, in fact, look like an interesting mix of new things and things that seem to be taken right out of Dishonored. One new ability is Reprise, which allows you to rewind time after dying without resetting the loop. You can only use this twice, and interestingly enough, Colt is the only person time rewinds for, so enemies will remark about how they already killed you when you come back just a few seconds later. There’s also Karnesis, which allows you to toss enemies around like dolls, and was shown quite a bit in the recent gameplay demo. Meanwhile, other abilities will be very familiar to Dishonored fans, such as teleporting with Shift, which is essentially just Blink, or Nexus, which allows you to connect enemies so that all their fates are tied to each other, similar to Domino.
Their are eight Visionaries scattered throughout Backreef island, and each of them, as you’d expect, yields vital rewards upon death, from new abilities to upgrades to the ones that are already in your arsenal, and, of course, large quantities of Residuum, which will allow you to permanently unlock stuff. Arkane says that killing a Visionary multiple times can be pretty useful, and we’re curious to see how that plays into the game’s central structure and progression.
Given Arkane’s track record, it’s not surprising that Deathloop isn’t just a straight up linear shooter. No, there are multiple areas and branching paths in each area, and multiple ways to accomplish every objective. Arkane games have always been very systemic and emergent in nature, and as true immersive sims, they’ve put player choice and freedom front and center. It definitely looks like Deathloop is keeping that trend going, and given its central structure of repeating time loops, the game might end up highlighting that strength more than you’d expect.
Deathloop is, of course, taking heavy cues from the Dishonored games, but it’s also pulling from other stealth giants as well. For instance, there are shades of Hitman in there. In particular, the game’s developers have called attention to the fact that NPCs across the game’s world can often be having conversations with each other, and eavesdropping and listening in on these conversations can prove to be quite useful, since they might drop hints or even information about hidden paths that you could take or a new item that you could track down that might prove to be rather useful.
It also looks like Deathloop has some hacking mechanics- from what we’ve seen, it’s probably not going to be a major part of the game, and it’s not like it’s a separate minigame or anything like that. A couple of times in the recent gameplay demo though, we saw Colt pulling out a device and using it to hack stuff- once he hacked a turret to make it fire on enemies, and once he hacked a large transmitter-type thingie to attract enemies to it, and then make it blow up. What sort of upgrades will this device have? How useful will it prove to be? We’re willing to bet it’ll be an important part of Colt’s arsenal.
Colt is the protagonist in Deathloop, but Juliana is just as crucial a part of the game. The fact that she’s immune to the amnesia side effects of the loop makes her a pretty interesting character as it is, while it’s also clear that she and Colt also have a history together that Colt doesn’t seem to remember. Obviously, there’s some interesting narrative stuff being hinted at, but she’s an important gameplay element as well. For instance, Juliana can invade the game at times, being controlled by the AI or another player, and begin hunting you down, at which point you receive an alert informing you of the same. That has the potential to spice up proceedings in interesting ways, and we’re curious to see how well this facet is implemented in the game.
One interesting thing that you may have noticed in Deathloop’s recent gameplay showing and that Arkane Studios have also called attention to is the literal writing on the wall spotted at various places in the game- words written on walls and billboards and what have you, cryptically providing hints about various things. Arkane says these are going to be important as you play the game and that players will come to rely on these. How useful exactly are they going to be? What kind of narrative significant do they have? Those questions remain to be answered, but we’re certainly intrigued.