Q: Did much change during the shift from Crytek to Deep Silver in 2014?
David Stenton: The transition from Crytek to Deep Silver was really smooth. Basically, we’re exactly the same team, everybody sits at the same desks and has all the same tech. All it meant really was that we got the extra time that we wanted to work on the game, which is good from that point of view.
Q: Did you keep many of the ideas from the original Homefront?
David Stenton: The main element that we really took from the game was the premise. Obviously it’s about North Korea as that’s a pillar of the franchise and we didn’t want to change that aspect. The other big element really is the fact that you’re more-or-less fighting in your own backyard… it’s a recognisable location, you know – you’re a guerrilla fighter.
Outside of those elements we’ve revamped the game entirely. We’ve put a lot of effort into making this kind of dystopian occupied Philadelphia, and have been letting the environment do a lot of the storytelling with the emergent population and civilians, the KPA interacting with one another and with the resistance as well. So yeah, I suppose we’ve really taken the foundations of the franchise but in most other respects we’ve revamped it.
Q: What were some of the core gameplay ideas and mechanics you wanted to aim for in Homefront: The Revolution?
David Stenton: From our point of view I suppose the fact you’re a guerrilla fighter, and that really means you’re initially underpowered which extends through to the difficulty of the game, which is probably slightly higher than people will expect initially. That’s just the adjustment period, though, where you’ve got to take it slow and get to grips with things like asymmetric warfare and making use of the toolkit. Things like that.
The fact you’re a guerrilla fighter really extends deep into the heart of the game, too. The open world aspect, like I said, allows the environment to do the storytelling and that in itself kind of lends to the fact you’re a guerrilla fighter as you’ve got different routes, different abilities, the use of parkour to get better vantage points… things like that.
Then I suppose one other aspect is the RPG mechanics in the game, so things like expanding your guerrilla toolkit, customising your character, all of the different side missions and jobs available, and those elements that feed into it to get more longevity and player immersion.
Q: Can you talk a bit about the story of Homefront: The Revolution? How long will it take to complete?
David Stenton: I think if you were sticking to the bare minimum, it’d be around 15 to 20 hours. The average player will probably be sitting at over 20 hours. If you really exhausted all of the side missions, jobs, things like that it might be around 30 hours.
In terms of the story itself, the content you covered sort of sets it up – you play as Ethan Brady and you’re after Benjamin Walker, who’s a key character for the resistance. You’re a resistance noob, as you’ve just transferred to this district. But yeah, the initial part of the story is more-or-less the hunt for Benjamin Walker and over the course of the campaign you visit key locations in Philadelphia and get access to new districts as the game world opens up.
Q: What were some of the game's influences? I definitely got a bit of a Metro vibe from it!
David Stenton: It’s quite difficult to point to one particular game, I mean a lot of people that play do say it feels a lot like Metro. I think one of the main reasons for that is the slow paced combat, you’re not a super soldier, the ammo conservation, things like that. It’s still an action shooter, though, and we don’t want to take things too far the other way, but yeah some people do kind of point to Metro because of the pacing of the combat.
In terms of the city itself, one of the influences I think was City 17 from Half-Life ؘ– that kind of dystopian occupied city. I think they did a really good job! So hopefully we’ve taken that onwards with Philadelphia. We’ve really put a lot of effort into making sure it’s dripping with atmosphere.
Q: I noticed The Revolution has a lot of interesting game ideas, ranging from on-the-fly gun customisation to the distinct zones that separate Philadelphia. Were those things you had been working on early in development or did they come naturally overtime?
David Stenton: I guess it’s been the case of us layering on different mechanics! When the game first started moving into development with THQ it was quite a different proposition then. It was more of a linear shooter but even then the weapon customisation was prototyped and that was something that stuck all the way through development.
So it was about three years ago, post-THQ, that The Revolution went open world and we started introducing the different game loops and the different RPG mechanics. We’re trying to do something different, trying to carve our own niche and to do that you inevitably try and do different things. So there’s been certain things that we’ve tried that may have faded away and then there’re things over the course of development that have become super prominent!
Q: Longevity seems to be lost with a lot of game releases these days, as players will pick a game up, play it for a little while, and then move on to the next one unless it really strikes a chord with them. How are you aiming to take that on with The Revolution?
David Stenton: I think with Homefront there’s a lot of nuance to the game and that kind of goes hand in hand with the slightly elevated difficulty. You can pick it up and play and be learning right from the get go, for sure, but the more you put into it the more it gives back. There’s a whole load of nuances and facets, like the smartphone you have with all of the different apps, the transponders that find resistance stashes, the weapon customisation… there’s a lot of things that are included here.
We teach enough in the tutorial for players to get by, but it’s very much about each individual player approaching things their own way and finding their own unique play style. But yeah, there’s a lot of different elements really that you can get into.
So that’s one aspect that should help the longevity, with the other being the resistance mode – the four player co-op. We’re offering free support for that for a year after launch, with new maps, new events, new skins, new weapons… those kinds of things. So I think it’s quite a sizeable single-player game, and with the resistance mode as well it should hopefully help the game’s longevity.