Red Faction: Armageddon is an upcoming 2011 third-person action video game developed by Volition and published by THQ. It is the fourth installment in the Red Faction series, and is scheduled to be released for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Windows in June 2011.
We recently got a chance to sit with Jameson Durrall who is the lead level designer at Volition and talk about how Armageddon is shaping up. We touch on various points like the story, gameplay mechanics, multiplayer and a bit about next generation consoles.
Check out the full interview below.
GB: What do you think are the key differences between this game and the previous one?
Durrall: There were a couple of areas that we focused in on when creating Armageddon. First was reducing the amount of downtime between gameplay sections. Having a large openly viewable world made it hard to fill with buildings because of their cost, so taking a large portion of the game underground allowed us to control visibility and create gameplay sections closer together. The second thing we wanted to do was tell a better story and having a more structured environment helped us to do this. There is much less chance of the player losing track of the next story beat and we can pace things in a more traditional story telling fashion.
GB: What console was Armageddon initially coded for, and would you say it is better optimised for one of the consoles?
Durrall: We develop for 360, PS3 and PC simultaneously so the experience is consistent across all 3 platforms. The one benefit you do get from the PC version is much higher resolutions, which look fantastic!
GB: What made you decide to give players repair abilities this time around, and was it a difficult feature to implement?
Durrall: We wanted to find a way to give the player more options in gameplay and also integrate the destruction system into gameplay better. Repair had been effectively used in Guerrilla Multi-Player, so we had an idea of how beneficial it could be. We planned for it early on in development and built our gameplay areas with it in mind so the player could use it to find special areas and re-create strategic cover during combat.
GB: Do you see the story of Armageddon as a sequel to Guerilla, or a stand alone plot?
Durrall: It was important to us that we tell the story of the Mason line and keep the series firmly grounded in Red Faction Lore. But, I do think the story is self contained enough that newcomers to the series will be able to jump in and feel like they aren’t missing much.
GB: What inspired you to put the magnet gun in Armageddon?
Durrall: Early on we made the decision to make our weapons utilize our destruction system as much as possible. One of the things that people felt was missing in Guerrilla was the ability to affect where destruction happens, so with the Magnet Gun we created something that put the location in the hands of the player. Now you can grab a chunk of the world and launch it with precision to any other location in the area. It was a huge success in allowing the player feel like they could affect the world even deeper than before.
GB: Do you think you’ve been able to address all the criticisms of the previous game in Armageddon?
Durrall: That was certainly our goal and I think we’ve done a good job at addressing them. The story is cleaner and more concise, We’ve integrated destruction more fully into the moment to moment gameplay and we’ve reduced the amount of downtime between gameplay sections. Adding aliens as our main enemy also gave the game a unique feel that some felt was lacking from standard human opponents.
GB: Are there any other games in particular that you drew inspiration from whilst designing Armageddon?
Durrall: Games are always going to draw comparisons from each other, but it truly was not our goal to look at other games and try to emulate them. Our destruction engine is unique and it has such a huge bearing on how we design and develop the Red Faction games that we have to focus entirely on how to improve what we are doing with our own game.
GB: The decision to drop conventional multiplayer is an interesting one. How did you come to this decision in the end?
Durrall: The focus of Armageddon is giving the player an experience where they are trying to eliminate an alien threat that is killing everyone and destroying everything around them. We didn’t feel it made sense to then have a multiplayer mode where players are now killing each other. We decided to try and meld the experiences together by having Infestation be a co-op way of players fighting the good fight together. In order to help tie it together even better, we made the decision to share salvage and upgrades between the two modes so the player can advance no matter which way they choose to play.
GB: How do you think gamers will feel about the lack of competitive multiplayer? Do you think all shooting games need multiplayer to succeed these days?
Durrall: It’s a tough thing when you see a review for a game ding them for not having competitive multiplayer, but then I look at games like Bioshock that didn’t have it and reviewed quite well. I hope that people will see how we focused on making a cohesive experience for the player and didn’t dilute our experience by tacking on a “conventional” mode that didn’t really fit what we were trying to create.
GB: Armageddon’s new enemy types affect the way the game plays in huge ways. Was this a conscious design decision, or did it evolve out of the game’s new plot?
Durrall: A big part of moving a big chunk of the game underground was to put gameplay all around the player. An alien force gave us the opportunity to now create enemies that utilize the walls and ceilings and now truly take the fight everywhere. Luckily these motives worked hand in hand and allowed us to tell an interesting story as well as elevating our combat to a new level.
GB: Do you think that it’s time for the next generation consoles to launch? Do you feel restricted somehow due to the technological advancements on the PC and the consoles remaining static?
Durrall: It’s always appealing to developers to get faster processers and more memory. We deal with limitations on a daily basis and are always saying “if we only had the framerate or memory to…” This has been a pretty solid console cycle and we’ve been able to do some pretty amazing things with the tools and hardware available. We have a talented group of programmers that created a fully destructible world and I can only imagine what we could do with more resources at our disposal.