We’ve already brought you an early look at the single-player
portions of Volitions upcoming third person action title Red Faction: Armageddon and it’s shaping up to be one of the biggest hits of the year.
But we want to keep you happy so we’ve also tracked down lead level designer Jameson Durall (who shares his first name with a whiskey so he must be cool) for a chat about getting the series back to its routes and the path to creating awesome weaponry like the magnet gun.
CLICK: Why did you decide to move away from the sandbox/open world environs of 2009’s Red Faction: Guerrilla?
JD: Guerrilla was the first and only truly open world-game in the Red Faction Franchise history. We decided to head back toward our roots in order to accomplish two main goals. First, we wanted to get the player doing the most fun stuff in Guerrilla more often...destroying things. Having the open world meant that we needed to separate the dense areas of destruction and going underground and making things a bit more structured gave us the opportunity to vastly increase the destruction in each area. Using caves also allowed us to have destruction on the walls and ceilings which truly made the experience surround the player. Secondly, we wanted to tell a better story. In an open world, the player would often lose track of what was happening in the story and have trouble getting back in. The structure to the world we’ve chosen allowed us to pace the narrative in a way that would tell a good story as well as provide lots of options in combat. We focused on creating each encounter as a mini sandbox so the player has that open feel second to second instead of wandering around and trying to find what to do next.
CLICK: Combat has received a noticeable overhaul, specifically with the Nano-Forge abilities. Is the franchise making its way back towards its original Sci-Fi shooter roots?
JD: Our focus with combat was to give the player more options, so that they could play the way they want to play. Each of the 4 Nano-Forge abilities is unique and has a very specific function that it performs. For the defensive player, there is Shell with allows them to create a forcefield around themselves and regain health or even revive an ally in Infestation. The more offensive player will prefer Berserk which gives them unlimited ammo, faster firing speeds and no reload. Using the Nano-Forge as a way to unlock these types of abilities was a great way to form a link with Guerrilla and also help get the feel of our earlier games.
CLICK: The Nano-Forge concept has seen considerably expanded since Guerrilla, notably its hugely entertaining repair function. Will puzzle/platforming have a significant gameplay role in Armageddon?
JD: Repair is such an amazing ability and we tried to find as many ways as we could to integrate it into Armageddon. There will be times where you can use it to repair long destroyed areas and find hidden items or even to get a better vantage point on enemies. Using it in combination with the Magnet gun is a great way to have a replenishing ammo source in the world.
CLICK: Red Faction, and to some extent Volition, has become a forerunner in environmental destruction? Was this an intentional step taken or did it happen by accident?
JD: We have a talented team that has been working for a decade to create and improve our GeoMod destruction system into what you see today. It’s not only been our goal to create the most realistic destruction system in video games today, but to also make sure that the gameplay is built to make it an integral part of the design. One of our main focuses with our weapon design in Armageddon was to build new weapons that even further accentuate the system. The Magnet gun is of course the premiere weapon which now allows the player to decide where destruction in the world will happen. Instead of just watching something fall to the ground you can take the entre side of a building and launch it to any place in the world. Additionally, we created weapons like the Plasma Cannon which hits a wall with a first explosion, then continues through for a 2nd and 3rd explosion. Only a destruction system like GeoMod would allow something like this.
CLICK: Certain recent titles have (in our opinion) overly focused on multiplayer, often to the detriment of a single player experience. Any danger of a 3 hour campaign in the next Red Faction title or will they remain lengthy affairs?
JD: With one of our main goals being to tell a better story with Armageddon, it’s pretty safe to say we needed well over 3 hours to do so. We have a solid single player campaign that will keep the player in their chairs for well over 12 hours easily. Additionally, we wanted to build our multiplayer in a way that it helped support single player and be an extended part of the game. Infestation is a co-op mode that allows the player to play the same type of gameplay with their friends and rewards of salvage and upgrades are used across both.
CLICK: What can you tell us of the narrative in Armageddon? Will it conclude the Red Faction saga? Any unexpected twists or stunning revelations on their way?!
JD: You’ll just have to play!
CLICK: Armageddon’s magnet gun was easily the most entertaining weapon we came across. How did the idea for this come about? How much fun was it to design a destructible world around its use?
JD: I still have a blast playing with the magnet gun even after playing for many months. We wanted to create something unique that could only work in our fully destructible engine and I feel we’ve succeeded. The idea came up in one of our design meetings and we had one of our best gameplay programmers build up a prototype. The next day we saw a rough version and everyone was already sold on how great the weapon would become.
CLICK: Given the new, darker aesthetic, not to mention the subterranean beasts, comparisons have been levelled between Armageddon and the Dead Space franchise? Did you take much inspiration from Dead Space?
JD: We actually looked back in our Red Faction history and found that the mutants that Capek created were actually formed by experiments that he had done many years ago when he first found this alien race...then decided it was too risky and sealed them away again. Our focus was to create enemies that would better utilize the cave setting by allowing them to be on the walls and ceilings. The dark and moody atmosphere was a way to better set the tone for the story we wanted to tell.
CLICK: Vehicle segments had a hefty role in Guerrilla, with chases, raids and daring escapes. Given its more streamlined presentation, what is Armageddon’s answer to this gameplay element?
JD: We have some pretty impressive vehicles in Armageddon, so the player will get to crash through buildings and have fun like they have come used to. But yes, we did have to change our methods a bit to give our vehicles a place in the new way we built Armageddon. One example is the Red Faction LEO which allowed us to condense the size of the vehicles down to something more human like. This gave the player the mobility needed to navigate some smaller spaces but still get the gameplay they wanted out of a destructive vehicle. We still have somevery large caves in Armageddon as well and some quite large vehicles to go along with them.
CLICK: Volition will reportedly be collaborating with filmmaker Guillemro Del Toro for survival horror game insane come 2013? Is there anything further you can tell us about this collaboration?
JD: It’s going to be awesome!
Red Faction: Armageddon is coming to Xbox 360, PS3 and PC on the 10th of June 2011.