Being a huge fan of the original FEAR, I decided to catch up with Jason Frederick, courtesy E-xpress games. Jason is the associate producer at Day 1 Studios and we chatted how FEAR 3 has evolved ever since it’s announcement last year. We also talk about the level design, story and gameplay elements that will be present in the game. Make sure you go through the entire thing as it’s an interesting read.
GB: One of the major complaints for FEAR 2 was the lack of a good story and some uninspired level design, which was a bit surprising since the first game was actually applauded for both of these factors. Are Day 1 Studios taking any different approach with respect to these elements this time around?
Frederick: We certainly retain aspects of the series that fans will recognize, and we noticed a powerful family dynamic that offered a great new direction for to explore with the story. As a result, we decided to focus on this incredibly compelling family consisting of Alma, Point Man, and Paxton Fettel. To help us accomplish this, we brought on Steve Niles, who is most known for his work on the ’30 Days of Night’ series. Steve co-wrote the story along with the creative folks we have here at Day 1 Studios, and in doing so, we were able to create a story that is very accessible to all players, and can stand completely on its own, while giving long-time F.E.A.R. fans more insight into well-known characters.Additionally, we were lucky enough to not only have Steve Niles helping with the story, but horror legend and director John Carpenter who helped us craft the cinematics in the game.
The levels themselves chronicle the journey that Point Man and Fettel are taking to reach their mother and confront their past. We’ve opened the environments up a little more, and retain a claustrophobic feel in some areas. Each interval has a unique look and feel to it. Players will be visiting more locations than just the city of Fairport, and playing the game cooperatively really changes the combat situations.
GB: The player will be able to control both Point Man and Paxton Fettel. How do you think this will work out in the actual gameplay? Will there be different chapters for each of the characters?
Frederick: When playing single player, you will initially be playing the game as Point Man. However, completing any level unlocks the ability to replay the level solo as Fettel. Except for the ending, which I want to leave for gamers to discover on their own, the campaign will play out identically, no matter which character you’re playing.
For Point Man, we’ve retained several of the abilities that fans really liked from the first two games. Players can activate his reflex time – or slow-mo – ability and take out entire groups of enemies before they even know what hit them. We also brought back the slide tackle and jump kick, two methods of dispatching your foes that provide some nice variety to the game play.
Whether playing as Fettel in co-op or the single player campaign, skilled players can use Fettel’s possession abilities to quickly turn the battlefield dynamics around by possessing an enemy who’s behind all of his comrades, or instantly gain a height advantage on everyone by taking over soldiers positioned on balconies, rooftops, or walkways. The amount of time you can use a possessed body is limited, but can be extended by killing more soldiers.
GB: FEAR 2 ended on a cliff hanger with no clear indication on what happened to Sergeant Becket. Is he returning in FEAR 3?
Frederick: Well Sergeant Becket is the father of Alma’s unborn child – it would be a shame if he didn’t make an appearance, right?
GB: In my opinion Alma, right from when she was kid in the original to a full grown adult in the sequel, is easily one of the most daunting and scary characters I have played witnessed to. What steps are you taking so that the Alma Wade is the scariest in the franchise yet? If you can tell us with the help of any spooky scene in the game that would be great.
Frederick: F.E.A.R. 3 picks up nine months after the events of F.E.A.R. and F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, which is an important number for us when we have a pregnancy to deal with. Without giving too much away, I can tell you that Alma is nearing the end of her pregnancy, and is having contractions. Due to her psychic abilities, these contractions are manifested in the physcial world in the form of huge psychic rifts that tear through the environments. As players near the end, these contractions become more intense and increase in frequency, and their results become completely unpredictable.
GB: Can you please tell us how the new cover system will work?
Frederick: Both players will have access to our all-new 360-degree active cover system, which we’ve completley revamped for F.E.A.R. 3 . This new cover system allows players to take cover behind nearly any object, lean out left or right, look over the top, and vault over cover objects. In case you start to get flanked, players can perform a 180-degree spin when vaulting, and take cover on the other side with a simple button press. Players can also quickly move from cover-to-cover, again all with a single press of the button.
GB: Co-op modes are a brand new addition to the franchise. Are you freezed on what kind of modes gamers can expect and can you please throw some light on the same?
Frederick: Simply adding co-op wasn’t enough for us. We wanted to go beyond that, so we developed what we call divergent co-Op. This means that Point Man and Fettel are very distinctly different characters, each with their own set of abilities. For example, when playing as Point Man, you’ll get the classic F.E.A.R.-style gameplay that fans of the series have come to expect. You can take cover, use slow-mo, and run-and-gun your way to victory.
On the other hand, we have Fettel. He’s weaker than Point Man in some ways, especially without the slow-mo ability, but he comes with unique advantages. In his ghost form, you can suspend one enemy while attacking another with his energy blast. Fettel can even suspend explosive objects and toss them at groups of enemies who otherwise would not have been in danger if you were simply playing as Point Man. Fettel also has some melee abilities as a ghost that are really fun to explore. But the real key to Fettel’s success is his ability to possess enemy soldiers.
GB: Move and Kinect are the rage these days. Do you think a game like FEAR has a future with such technologies?
Frederick: Although F.E.A.R. 3 won’t be shipping with Move or Kinect support, they are definitely technologies that we’re very interested in.
GB: Is there anything else you want to share about the game?
Frederick: Outside of the Campaign, we’re really excited about our Multiplayer game types. We deliberately strayed from the normal Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and other standard game modes so that we could bring something completely different to the table. We think we’ve succeeded at making some really fun game types that are unique to the F.E.A.R. universe, and something players won’t be able to get anywhere else. We have four modes that all bring forth different types of multiplayer experiences. They are titled F**king Run!, Contractions, Soul Survivor and Soul King.