Fallen Tree Games won over a lot of fans with 2019’s American Fugitive, an open world crime game inspired by the classic top-down GTA games of old, but with its next title, the developer is turning the tables. The Precinct shares a lot of its DNA with Fallen Tree Games’ previous title, but has you playing as a cop rather than as a criminal, which promises to change up the gameplay experience in some interesting ways. To learn more about the game and the changes it will be making to accommodate that shift, we recently reached out to its developer with a few of our questions. Below, you can read our interview with Fallen Tree Games.
"While The Precinct shares many similarities with American Fugitive in terms of its camera system, physics, and vehicle mechanics, you will need to take a more deliberative approach when taking the role of the pursuer rather than the pursued. You can’t ram into the bad guys or recklessly plough through civilians."
Your previous game, American Fugitive, offered a similar experience of an open world crime game that evoked classic GTA titles, but The Precinct is putting a different twist on it by having players play as law enforcement. How did the idea for that switch come about, and what changes will it bring to the core gameplay?
The concept for The Precinct took shape during the development of American Fugitive, when we would often talk about how enjoyable it would be to play as the police, and we lamented the lack of exciting cop games.
We played a police mod for GTA and loved it, so we just started tinkering with the concept after American Fugitive was launched. We noted that the act of pursuit is great fun, and it just grew from there. We’ve had so many people say to us they’ve been desperate for an action cop game, so glad it wasn’t just us that felt that way.
While The Precinct shares many similarities with American Fugitive in terms of its camera system, physics, and vehicle mechanics, you will need to take a more deliberative approach when taking the role of the pursuer rather than the pursued. You can’t ram into the bad guys or recklessly plough through civilians.
Given your role as a law enforcement officer, the game anticipates that you exhibit restraint and sound judgement throughout your gameplay experience. You’ll need to be careful when engaging in gunfights and choose your targets carefully.
The Precinct will be making use of procedurally generated crimes for players to deal with. Can you talk about how this will function, and what level of variety players should expect from these activities?
We’ve put a lot of attention into the procedural generation of crimes, meaning that the game offers virtually endless gameplay possibilities. There is a story, but it isn’t as lengthy as it was in the American Fugitive, and you’ll spend a fair amount of time doing Shift Work.
The game has a day and night cycle, and when you start your shift you’ll be presented with a list of shift options. These will include vehicle and foot patrols, helicopter support, and issuing parking tickets. During these shifts, almost anything can and will happen, ranging from muggings to gang wars, graffiti incidents to store holdups. You’ll have callouts come through on the radio, and you will also have the ability to identify incidents on your own. Although accepting these callouts is not mandatory, failing to meet your quotas will affect your progress.
The Precinct seems to be placing plenty of emphasis on police chases, where players will also have access to a support system. How much depth will that system have, and what kinds of options will players have in the sort of support they can call in during a chase?
Our support system runs on tokens – think of them as rewards you earn for doing good or proper stuff, like staying close to a fleeing vehicle or taking down a bad guy. You can cash in these tokens to call for backup when you need it. Just remember, it’s context sensitive, so you can’t call in a helicopter for an overdue parking metre fine. Different support costs different amounts of tokens. e.g., a patrol car is cheaper than a spike strip, so there is an element of risk versus reward. Do you hold out in a chase and get a higher value item? So, expect to see a bunch of pursuit vehicles, spike strips, roadblocks, and even choppers in action.
"In contrast to the rural setting of American Fugitive, this game is set in a gritty metropolitan city, inspired by 1980s New York."
What should players expect from the design style and environmental design of The Precinct’s map, especially given its 80s noir inspirations?
In contrast to the rural setting of American Fugitive, this game is set in a gritty metropolitan city, inspired by 1980s New York, which was a pretty sketchy place back then. We’ve tried to create a condensed island city that contains lots of nooks and crannies to explore with unique landmarks and locations, and a road network that lends itself to thrilling chases and stunts. Unlike our previous game, which was entirely flat, we’ve introduced a degree of verticality for The Precinct. This can lead to clever shortcuts, exciting jumps, spectacular spins, and rooftop chases. We’re also leaning hard into the neon noir blade runner aesthetic, and the city looks stunning, especially at night.
What can you tell us about the dynamic weather system and what kind of an impact that will have on how players play the game?
The dynamic weather system has a direct impact on your gameplay experience. Your activities will be influenced by the weather conditions, which can either pose challenges or offer advantages. For instance, during rainy periods, the streets become slippery, and puddles accumulate, significantly complicating manoeuvring for both those chasing and those being pursued. If there is a storm, visibility will be seriously impaired. Your strategy and tactics will need to adapt according to the changing weather conditions.
Roughly how long will an average playthrough of The Precinct be?
Players can anticipate spending approximately 6-8 hours to successfully complete the main story line. Additionally, players have the option to confront other gangs and gather a variety of in-game items. As previously highlighted, our focus on procedural crime generation ensures that the game delivers nearly limitless gameplay possibilities.
"Players can anticipate spending approximately 6-8 hours to successfully complete the main story line."
Do you have any plans to eventually bring the game to the Switch down the line?
We are currently focused on releasing the game on PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S. We have no plans on bringing the game to Switch now.