At the 2012 Game Developers Conference, Quantic Dream‘s David Cage debuted a visually impressive, emotionally wrenching short film/PS3 tech demo titled, simply, “Kara.“ Well worth watching in its own right, Cage’s film also offered gamers their first glimpse at the engine that would go on to power Quantic Dream’s next game, Beyond: Two Souls.
One year later, “Kara” still looks good, but Cage is keen to stress that the underlying engine has been “significantly improved” since the short was completed. Credit that improvement to Quantic Dream’s experience with PlayStation 4. Though Beyond: Two Souls won’t land on store shelves until October, 2013, Cage’s studio is already hard at work on its first PS4 title, and that work has resulted in unexpected benefits for Beyond’s visual presentation.
Despite the success of Heavy Rain, David Cage had no interest in creating a sequel. One of the results of that decision is that Beyond: Two Souls doesn’t use Heavy Rain’s excellent tech, but instead runs on an entirely new engine – an engine that was developed, in part, on PlayStation 4. Speaking at a Beyond: Two Souls event in Paris, Cage discussed how PS4 affected development of his studio’s PS3 game for the better.
“We were really happy with Heavy Rain at the time, but when we finished the game, when we were done, we thought ‘hey, we can probably go further,’ and we wanted to try new ideas. So the first iteration with this new engine was used on ‘Kara,’ this short that we did, and it was the first time we used this new engine, but the engine has still significantly improved since Kara, to provide really new features – and all this was quite inspired by the development we did on PlayStation 4.”
“Because of our relationship with Sony, we had access to development kits on PlayStation 4 very early on, and we started developing this engine on PlayStation 4 with crazy features that were usually reserved to CG films, and we were implementing them on PlayStation 4, thinking that it would already be a challenge, which it was. But at the same time, we realized that some of these features could be implemented on PlayStation 3. Maybe not with the same high quality known on PlayStation 4, but they could be adapted to a PlayStation 3 platform.”
“And I encourage you guys to have a look at Heavy Rain again and compare this to the visuals you’re going to see on Beyond. I did that recently – I hadn’t seen the game for two years, Heavy rain – and just comparing the two visuals, you really got the feeling that it’s two games on two different platforms. There’s such a huge visual gap between the games that it’s quite spectacular, and we were surprised ourselves about where we could get with the graphic fidelity with this new engine.”
It isn’t just visual fidelity that sets Beyond: Two Souls apart from Heavy Rain. Cage’s new game is longer than his previous effort, and should last most players between 12-15 hours, according to gameplay lead Caroline Marchal (keeping in mind that Cage believes players should complete Beyond: Two Souls once, and only once). Equally welcome is news that Beyond does away with the endless quick time events that were the workhorse of Heavy Rain’s gameplay.
“No more quick time events. We didn’t really have problems with quick time events with Heavy Rain, and I don’t think the players who played the game had any problem with that, but we wanted to reconsider the possibility of, instead of saying to the player what he’s supposed to do, how could we get rid of this and let players define by themself, conclude by themself what they’re supposed to do.”
“So, we have a new system that will demonstrate where there is no prompt anymore, where you just analyze what’s going on onscreen and you know what your’re supposed to do without the game having to tell you ‘please press this button or this button.’ So, we still have a couple of prompts here and there, but no more than in a game like Tomb Raider or Uncharted or God of War or whatever – just, all games use some prompts here and there because it’s part of what gamers are used to these days.”
Take a look at Beyond: Two Souls’ refined interface and remarkable presentation in a brand new gameplay video, courtesy of VG 24/7.
Given that Cage and company are already working on a PlayStation 4 project, and that elements of Beyond: Two Souls’ engine were developed on Sony’s new hardware, should gamers expect a PS4 version of Beyond this holiday season? Responding to an inquiry from Eurogamer, Quantic Dream’s Guillaume de FondaumiÃ¨re noted that “so far,” Beyond is only for PS3. As for that PS4 game, Cage isn’t saying much about it right now, though he tells GameSpot that it is “incredibly exciting, it’s one of the strongest concepts we’ve had at Quantic Dream and we’re really excited about it.” Perhaps the tech Cage demoed at Sony’s See the Future event holds a clue – or, at least, offers an example of just how good Beyond: Two Souls could end up looking on PlayStation 4.
With an October release, Beyond: Two Souls may very well end up being one of the last PlayStation 3 exclusives released ahead of PlayStation 4’s holiday debut. Knowing that Cage is more interested in challenging players’ minds than “giving them fun,” are you looking forward Beyond? Would you rather play on PS4 than PS3? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Beyond: Two Souls releases October 8, 2013, exclusively for PlayStation 3.
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