At Gamelab, we caught up with Enric Alvarez, creative director of Lords of Shadow 2, to talk in-depth about the changes the team have brought to the series, including new skill and weapon trees, free camera, and capturing the character of Dracula - one you'll see "do questionable things" according to the director.
You can catch the full interview below, but here's a few choice snippets from the talk.
On the free camera
"Honestly speaking this was something the first game needed so badly... at the same time I saw all the people playing, they didn't even notice it was a free camera. They just played the game. And given the camera is always showing you the action from the best angle, without nay need for you to touch it, then people were comfortably playing it without doing anything."
"With combat and weapons, its very obvious the game has evolved. It's the same beast, but very much improved. The feeling that the game gives is the same, but at the same time, complete different. Because you can now look in any direction, you can focus on the enemy you want, without any restriction...the platforming is much more seamless. The Titans this time round are much more integrated, meaning that on the titans you pretty much have the same capacities on the ground - fighting, climbing, dodging, using your powers...it's going to be a much more organic experience."
"What I can say is that Dracula in this game is going to do things that you are going to disagree [with]. We are insisting in presenting a character that is the Prince of Darkness for real. You don't earn [that title] for nothing. So we are trying to be very very clear about that this time you have the villain as the main character. And there are a lot of reasons behind this; it's not going to be a simple character. He's got to be a complicated, often contradictory character. We hope people are going to identify, empathise, with this character. But this doesn't detract from the brutality he's going to show."
Weapon and Skill Trees
"The weapon system is really improving from the Lords of Shadow, but at the same time it's quite different. We have three different weapons - with three different combo trees associated to each one of them. This makes deciding what combo you want am interesting decision.
As with [the original], we're going to have a light-RPG system that allows you to buy combos and many other things. But combo wise when you get one, you're going to get a combo per your weapon - specifically your Chaos Claws, your Void Sword or your Whip. So it's going to be much more your way. In [the original], combos were 90% the same, independently of the magic you were using. But this time you've more or less tripled the combos, so your decisions are going to impact a lot in the way you face combat."
On keeping the player informed during combat
"You need to be conscious that when you are making a decision, like putting the camera at some distance from the player, you need to be consistent with that decision at all levels. We want to put the camera at that distance, want players to be aware of the strategic component of their position and where the enemies are and what are they doing. it matters if an enemy is behind you, about to attack. It matters to the player - it should matter to the player, that this is about to happen. So we are very keen that the players take advantage of that.
So showing the life points of each enemy, showing the damage you do, the life you recover - every single hit helps you make decisions about how to tackle enemies. Perhaps if you see the life point of each enemy in combat, you can make a decision to attack these first - because he is more dangerous or he has less health points. But you shouldn't forget the others. For that purpose, the camera will help you a lot... if you activate all of that, which is fully optional, then you're going to get a much more RPG flavour to the combat."
A Seamless World
"You have Dracula in a castle - you know you want exploration. The old division - level by level - was used and worked well for Lords of Shadow. This time we wanted to improve on that. This was a massive challenge for the studio, because it forced us to rewrite the code almost from scratch. But I think it pays off. Because now we have a game that is completely seamless world, that will give the impression of being more real, more organic. It's going to make a difference."
The facial capture is going to be far better than it was in the first one. Because this time we capture face and body all in one go. So the performance of the actors is something we can translate in the game far more easily than [the original]. This allowed us to write a script that's much more emotional, because we are very interested in showing emotions in this game... you're going to see Dracula doing questionable things, but at the same time, doing emotional things."
On the future
"The future looks interesting for us, and we're going to visit new worlds in our next project."