Eidos Montreal is under no small amount of pressure this year, as the studio gets ready to release the first Thief game in almost a decade. The classic stealth series, originally created by Looking Glass Studios, has a strong fanbase and a fourth game has been in development for many years. Eidos Montreal faced a similar task when creating Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but production on Thief has been a little more troubled.
Some hardcore fans of the Thief games have been reacting to the new additions and changes like vampires to sunlight, which ultimately led to Eidos Montreal backpedaling on issues like the proposed XP system and the introduction of quicktime events. Now it seems that the studio has found a compromise between wanting to entice new players while also not alienating the existing fans: offer an in-depth customization system that allows for as embellished or as stripped-down an experience as the player prefers.
This starts in the options menu with a number of additional tweaks thrown in with the usual settings. When Game Rant attended a Thief presentation at Eurogamer last year, one audience member asked whether it would be possible to turn off Garrett’s voice during missions (there was a lot of grumbling over the change of voice actor). Eidos Montreal’s Joe Khoury said at the time that it wasn’t possible, but it’s since been added as an option in the Audio menu. This removes the directional hints that he sometimes drops during missions, meaning that players will have to work harder to figure out where to go next.
That’s not the only hand-holding that can be taken away. The Display menu offers the ability to remove treasure glint and force players to really search for valuables, and to rid the game world of any kind of visual prompts such as waypoint markers, navigation prompts, interaction prompts, threat icons, enemy health bars and even the light gem. This bare-bones approach may well end up adding a much greater level of immersion to the gameplay, as the player is forced to rely on their own eye for detail in the environments instead of prompts or hints.
The customization available goes even deeper. Players can not only pick a basic difficulty for their playthrough, but can also use a custom difficulty setting to add additional limitations to their game in order the amp up the challenge and boost their endgame score. Here is a full list of the different ways that you can change up the difficulty and gameplay of Thief by using the custom setting:
Classic Thief mods
- Chapter saves only
- No Focus
- Stealth takedowns only
- No reticle
Legendary Thief mods
- Speciality arrows only
- No food or poppies
- Zero damage (taking damage fails mission)
- Expensive resources
- Slowed movement
Ultimate Thief mods
- Iron Man (failing or dying once = game over)
- No upgrades
- No kills or knockouts
- No alerts
The modifications scale from minor hindrances to “oh wow, this is going to be impossible” levels of difficulty, which are probably going to be very appealing to gamers who love a real challenge. The “Iron Man” mod is particularly intimidating, and is evocative of the early days of gaming where a slip-up could send you all the way back to the start of the game – except at least with old school games you usually had a few extra lives.
Of course, offering incentives to replay certain missions – or the entire game – only puts on additional pressure to make the missions as interesting and varied as possible. In order to hold up to multiple playthroughs, both the level design and the AI needs to be as polished as possible and ideally there should be plenty of secrets and hidden paths to uncover so that each new attempt can offer something new.
Tell us in the comments if you’re pleased with this level of customizability, and which of the mods you feel brave enough to try.
Thief arrives on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One on February 25, 2014.