As developer Day 1 Studios readies F.E.A.R. 3 for release next month, we sit down with Jason Frederick, Associate Producer – Day 1 Studios who gives us the lowdown on all the new gameplaye elements you can expect with this game. Also we've been advised to stock up on a ton of clean underwear.
F.E.A.R. was scarier and more atmospheric than its sequel. Would F.E.A.R. 3 be more action oriented or go back to its roots of scaring the crap out of gamers?
We definitely wanted to make sure we nailed all the tenets that make the F.E.A.R. games stand out from the pack. The series has been known to seamlessly blend great storytelling, frenetic combat, and horror – and F.E.A.R. 3 is no different. We’d be doing the fans a disservice if we didn’t get Monolith involved in the development of the game. When we knew we would be getting the opportunity to develop F.E.A.R. 3, we immediately contacted Monolith for a series of meetings with key team members. These sessions helped us ensure we’d preserve the classic elements of F.E.A.R. so what we could make a game that fans of the series would expect to play.
Army of Two
What are some of the new gameplay and story elements players can expect in F.E.A.R. 3?
We have a brand new story that takes the series further, but focuses more on the family dynamics between Point Man, his now-ghostly brother Paxton Fettel, and their mother Alma – an incredibly powerful and twisted psychic. To help us accomplish this, we brought in Steve Niles and John Carpenter, and greatly benefited from their contributions.
Being a new developer to the series, we also wanted to bring in some new gameplay mechanics. First off, we’ve added co-op, which is a first for the series. We wanted people to be able to share their experiences with their friends either online or via split-screen. Simply adding co-op wasn’t enough, so we created what we call divergent Co-op, meaning the characters have very distinctly different styles of play.
Secondly, we added a new 360-degree active cover system. This 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.
Next, we added an all-new generative system, which monitors the way you are playing the game and determines which scare events to trigger next, ensuring that no two players have the same experience.
Finally, we’ve created four all-new multiplayer modes that are separate from the main campaign, and are unique to the F.E.A.R. universe. We’ve deliberately avoided the standard Deathmatch and Capture the Flag gametypes in favor of more unique multiplayer modes such as F**king Run!, Contractions, Soul King and Soul Survivor that players cannot get anywhere else.
Get to the choppa nao
Why add co-operative play to a horror game? Don’t you think that would tone down the F.E.A.R. factor a notch?
When we began writing the story, it wasn’t long before we decided to focus on this incredibly compelling family consisting of Point Man, Fettel, and Alma. Adding co-op made perfect sense for us, and breathes new life into the series.
However, you can still play the game in Single Player, and get the classic, solo F.E.A.R. experience that fans of the franchise have come to expect, and you won’t have to worry about a buddy AI running around with you. But Fettel isn’t really gone when you play alone – he’s in your head, pestering you from time to time, taunting you. When you play together in co-op, sure he might be your brother, but can you really trust him? You’ve got to remember that Point Man killed Fettel at the end of the first game, and Fettel has returned to his brother’s side as a ghost. Not to mention the fact that Fettel was driven to madness and cannibalism during the events of the first F.E.A.R.
With F.E.A.R. 3, can gamers expect more subtle scares like a Silent Hill or more in your face stuff like Doom3?
The F.E.A.R. series has been known to have subtle and psychological-based horror moments, but also tossing in a few high-impact scares at just the right time, and we aimed to continue that tradition. As I mentioned earlier, we took this a step further by developing the generative system. Among other aspects, the system tracks your movements, where you are looking, and which scares you’ve seen so far. It uses this data to determine which scare events to trigger for you next, which can range from something small and subtle, to something bigger and more noticeable. By introducing this level of uncertainty, we create tension during each level because you have no idea what’s going to happen next, even if you’ve played through the game more than once.
What’s John Carpenter’s role in the game? Is he contributing on just story or gameplay as well?
John Carpenter is a master of his craft, and it was very interesting to see just how applicable his knowledge of film was to video games. John had a tremendous amount of input in consulting with us to craft our cinematic and horror moments. John’s influence can be felt throughout F.E.A.R. 3.
Orko, is that you?
Gamers today are a pretty desensitized bunch. How do you plan on immersing them in the game?
Typically, one of the things that makes a horror game so scary is the fact that the player is isolated. They don’t have anyone with them to answer the question, “Did you just see that?” Good horror games use this isolation to their advantage by manipulating the player’s psyche with the use of audio and visual events. We have a very talented audio team that has created some amazing content, and it really helps sell the ambience to make players feel like they’re really there – especially if you’re playing with a nice surround sound system. Players who turn off the lights and crank up the sound should have no problem feeling immersed in F.E.A.R. 3.
What would you say was the defining game/movie in your career?
F.E.A.R. 3 easily wins in this competition. It is by far the biggest game I’ve ever worked on, and the number of features we’ve implemented is truly staggering when you sit back and think about it. It’s definitely one of the most challenging but also most rewarding projects I’ve ever been a part of. We’re really excited about the game, and can’t wait to get it on the shelves.
What’s next for the F.E.A.R. franchise? Are there any plans for a F.E.A.R. movie?
Haha! If there’s enough demand for more F.E.A.R., then it would be great to work something out.
We'd like to thank Jason for taking the time out to answer our questions. F.E.A.R. 3 releases by the 24th of June 2011 for the Xbox360, PS3 and PC.