GamingBolt had an exclusive opportunity to speak with Brett Norton, Design Director of Section 8 Prejudice. Check it out below.
GB: What is the main story behind Section 8: Prejudice?
Brett Norton: It’s your classic boy meets girl, girls turns into planet devouring monster, boy invents super-atomic…. No wait, that’s not it. Ah, yes, the story of Prejudice follows the intrepid Alex Corde in the wake of the Outer Rim War. Following this war, the Arm of Orion has been largely dismantled by the USIF military division called Section 8. However, the cleanup operation is riddled with a lot of finger-pointing and conspiracy theories. You see, Corde lives in a time where the USIF military is supposed to reign supreme, an unassailable force that generally doesn’t have much in the way of serious opposition. The Arm of Orion inflicted serious damage on Section 8 during the Outer Rim War, and their relative success has raised a lot of questions. How could a fringe colonial faction possess such advanced military technology, and how could they give pause to the best-and-brightest of the USIF military?
The story kicks off exactly there, with Corde and his Section 8 comrades searching for clues. Corde’s investigation takes him through a story of betrayal, revenge, and prejudice as he uncovers the secrets behind the Arm of Orion.
GB: The trailer released shows a variety of different weapons. What kind of guns can players expect to be using?
Brett Norton: Prejudice includes a pretty robust arsenal, ranging from assault rifles to missile launchers to automatic mortars. We’ve preserved almost all of the gear from our previous game, and introduced some brand-new gear as well. But the really awesome stuff in Prejudice are the actual variants of each weapon and equipment type.
Each core weapon has several variants, such as the Incendiary Rounds for the Machine Gun. Ever want to set your opponent on fire while suppressing them with an MG? Prejudice has that. Need a grenade that’s super-effective at knocking down enemy shields and drains their jetpack capacitor? Break out the EMP grenades for that. Each core weapon functions in a simple and easy-to-use way, but the real joy comes from mixing-and-matching the different tools to create a custom loadout that fits your play style. There are really quite a lot of loadout options in the game as a result, and it will keep players trying new combinations for months.
Of course, this is all tied into a robust unlock system. New players start out with a pretty broad selection of weapons and equipment, getting access to the ‘bread and butter’ versions of each item. As you move up in the ranks, you unlock more equipment, which is often the more specialized gear. The selection of gear we have in Prejudice is pretty large, and we’re looking forward to seeing the incredible number of loadouts players develop.
GB: There were all kinds of vehicles in the trailer too. How will these work in the single player, and how will they be balanced in the multiplayer?
Brett Norton: The campaign has several missions built heavily around the vehicles. We’ve expanded the vehicle roster as well, and each vehicle shows up in the campaign to participate in some fun vehicle-heavy objectives.
In multiplayer, vehicles are mostly balanced through our purchase-and-delivery system. Prejudice doesn’t have vehicles that lie around the map and magically re-spawn into place every few minutes. Instead, players accumulate requisition points during gameplay whenever they score. Repairing a friendly turret, killing an enemy, and capturing a control point all earn you valuable requisition points (RPs). Rack up the RPs, and you can use them to buy not only vehicles, but additional turrets, supply depots, and long-range sensors. You also get to determine exactly where they get delivered on the battlefield!
It’s a great reward mechanic and it keeps the vehicles relatively balanced. Vehicles are pretty powerful, but it takes awhile to save up for one, so each time one hits the battlefield it can be a game-changer. You’ve got an edge when you’re in a vehicle, but you’ve also got an investment to protect, so it creates some fun tension.
But infantry aren’t just cannon fodder for vehicles either; players have access to a lot of loadout options that are very effective against vehicles. If you’re getting steamrolled by an enemy in a tank, you can break out the mortars and missiles to start harassing them right back.
GB: The original Section 8 was often criticized for having poor visuals. How has this been improved in Prejudice?
Brett Norton: Prejudice’s engine has been heavily overhauled since our last outing. We did a massive amount of technical optimizations (lots of behind-the-scenes stuff) that really opened up our world builders to create some fantastic levels and environments. Our early screenshots and trailer are all showing in-engine content, and show Prejudice’s visuals are a major step forward.
On a side note, the content in those trailers / screenshots were taken from pre-alpha builds, and the game looks even better now. I’m particularly happy with how the new armor skins have turned out. The armor skins look even better than what we’ve shown the community so far.
GB: As in the last game, the focus for Section 8: Prejudice seems to be on the multiplayer. What sort of game modes will be on offer?
Brett Norton: The core game mode is Conquest. It’s a competitive mode that pits up to 32 players against one another in large team battles. Teams win these battles by scoring victory points, which can be earned by capturing control points or completing dynamic combat missions. The dynamic combat missions, or DCMs as we call them, are the real twist in the formula. These activate every few minutes or so, and each one has a radically different objective. You might need to defend a midfield Outpost from an enemy attack, or sneak into an enemy base and escape with some precious Intel. The DCMs really shake up the gameplay of Conquest, and no two rounds ever play out the same way as a result.
On top of Conquest, we’ve turned our Swarm mod into a standalone game mode for Prejudice. It’s a co-operative mode where 4 players defend a single base against an overwhelming swarm of enemy hostiles. Yes, that sounds familiar, until you factor in the purchase-and-delivery system that I mentioned earlier. Bases are not static things in Prejudice; players can deploy turrets, additional depots, or even call in vehicle support to help them against the swarm. But, you don’t have unlimited money, so you can’t just go hog wild throwing down turrets everywhere. Where you place your turrets, what vehicles you buy and when you buy them, all have a critical impact on how the battle plays out. Swarm supports a number of difficulty settings, and the higher difficulties are a real challenge. Hardcore players are going to have a blast trying to beat each Swarm map on Insane difficulty, as you really need a good strategy and great teamwork to even survive the first five minutes on Insane.
GB: With the deluge of shooters due to be released between now and 2011, is Prejudice looking to innovate the shooter genre in any way?
Brett Norton: Prejudice’s shines because there’s nothing out there that plays quite like it on the gameplay end. We’re a large-player game, focusing on awesome team-battles across outdoor maps, filled with highly-mobile soldiers and a huge variety of cool weapons. The battles never play out the same way, and players have tons of different weapons, vehicles, and deployables they can use to shake up the status quo. The game’s familiar enough that players will be able to jump right in and start having fun on day one, but unless you have played Section 8, you haven’t played anything like Prejudice yet, and Prejudice is even better.
GB: What kind of customization options will be on offer?
Brett Norton: Customization in Prejudice comes mainly from our loadout system. I mentioned a lot about the various weapons and equipment you can put into your loadouts, but there’s another loadout element called Upgrades. Upgrades are sort of an RPG-lite mechanic that allows players to tweak their armors in very subtle ways. Easy example: you can choose to increase your armor’s accuracy, or opt for stronger shields. Each loadout has a limited number of Upgrade slots, and you unlock even more Upgrade types as you rank up in our various game modes. It gives every player a way to put an individual gameplay twist on their favorite loadouts, and as you get better at the game, you start to unlock more complex and unique upgrades.
There’s also a subset of new armor skins that will be available to players, but, we’re not quite ready to go into how those will be made available just yet.
GB: Will players still be able to glide onto multiplayer matches with a jetpack?
Brett Norton: Oh yes, there will be jetpacks. All armors in Prejudice are equipped with jetpacks, and you’re not forced to choose between core abilities like ‘Sprint’ or ‘Jetpack’. In Prejudice, you get both, and the gameplay is built around players using those abilities in conjunction. It makes for very mobile gameplay, and they’re great tools for getting players around our larger maps quickly.
GB: What platforms will the game be looking to hit upon release?
Brett Norton: Prejudice will be releasing on X360, PS3, and PC.
GB: What is the expected release date for Section 8: Prejudice?
Brett Norton: Hah! The marketing chancellor won’t let me tell you that yet. The only information the chancellor is permitting me to leak is ‘early 2011’. We are, however, accepting bribes, so please continue to send things like steaks and drinks until the marketing team softens up. I attribute their tight-lipped nature to low blood sugar, so chocolate cakes would probably help too.