Capcom’s highly-anticipated sequel, Resident Evil 6, has been hogging the survival horror (and action) spotlight the past few months – stamping out some of the buzz for EA’s upcoming Dead Space 3. Once considered the heir-apparent to the survival horror genre (as Resident Evil took a noticeable turn toward action), this Dead Space title is also looking to make some major changes – in order to appeal to fans outside of the horror genre.
Now, the developer is revealing that, not only did the series look to the evolution of similar franchises, they also relied extensively on Dead Space 2 player and reviewer feedback.
According to an Official PlayStation Magazine interview with Dead Space 3 executive producer, Steve Papoutsis, the team at Visceral Games was heavily influenced by feedback from series fans and critics as well as self-evaluation. In his comments, the developer is especially candid when reflecting on the final moments of Dead Space 2:
“In today’s age with all the social media and all the ways that we can get feedback from people, we need to look at those tools and really self-evaluate and say, ‘what could we have done better? With Dead Space 2, things that I think we all could have done better is continued to vary the pace from beginning to end. Toward the end of the game, it got to a point where it was just relentless. And if we could have added a bit more variety towards the end and mixed it up it would have been a little bit better.”
As for what the team intends to do with the feedback moving forward, on to Dead Space 3, Papoutsis wasn’t ready to share too many details – though he did tease the game’s new weapon system – a response to the gun variety “limitations” players may have felt in previous titles:
“We wanted to figure out a way to get players to experience more of their weaponry. People tended to kinda pick one weapon and upgrade that, and they didn’t really wanna explore all the neat weapons we made [...] We looked at player paths and behaviour, and listened to what reviewers said and players said, and our new customisation system that I can’t really go into, really I hope addresses that and gets people to play differently.”
Interestingly, another area of focus, according to Papoutsis, was to open up the enclosed and linear level design of the prior games – which might lead some fans to wonder if Visceral was talking to the right “reviewers” and “players.”
“One of the knocks was: ‘well Dead Space 1 and 2 were very enclosed and very linear,’ so in Dead Space 3 we’re looking to open that up and give that idea of the beta path content (side quests) and more stuff to explore [...] We just want to continue to evolve what we’ve done. We felt like we did a lot of good things, we should keep doing those, but we should continue to push ourselves.”
Unlike the gun system, which did seemingly “punish” players for experimenting with different weaponry, in favor of maxing out one or two guns, it’d be hard to find a lot of survival horror players who felt like the sequel was too enclosed and linear. Dead Space 2 offered a compelling balance between larger arenas (the shopping concourse) and tight immersive hallways (Titan Elementary School) – so, no doubt, many players are going to be skeptical of this new “open world” approach that the developers have been talking up for the past couple months.
While some gamers may long for less confined and linear experiences, the survival horror genre (even the survival horror-action genre) has always benefited from tossing players in small dark places with limited ammunition and plenty of tough enemies. Given the quality of the previous titles, we remain optimistic that changes to environment design and the gunplay system won’t undermine the fun of key franchise staples – such as the “amputation” gun mechanics. That said, survival horror is a tricky balance – especially when co-op gameplay is involved. Hopefully Visceral isn’t losing sight of what made their original title (and the sequel) standout experiences in an effort to appeal to a larger demographic of “reviewers and players.”
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Dead Space 3 releases in February of 2013 for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.
Source: Official PlayStation Magazine