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Interviews

Army of Two

Interview: Not co-op for dummies

Army of Two, yet another great looking co-op game on the way this year, was looking well in our recent hands-on session at EA.

EA Montreal has already put a good few years into the co-op shooter, and it's now sporting an intriguing "agro metre" inspired by MMOs like World of Warcraft. It's not another generic shooter then - not at all.

As is almost customary for hands-on events, we managed to corner lead designer Chris Ferriera with a plastic knife and fork for a few words on his gun-ho blaster. Here's what we got out of him.

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Army of Two has been in development for what feels like ever but we haven't seen an awful lot of it. Why's that?

Ferriera: At EA Montreal we do things a little differently. I've actually worked on Boogie for Wii and this, so we work on a wide range of products.

To think of this game as a new IP within EA, it has to be right. We want the first game to be perfect, because if we launch a new IP and it isn't what we want to make and isn't made to the right quality level, then the future for the franchise doesn't exist. We want to really build something strong.

We had two years pre-production and we're finishing up our second year of production and the newest thing we've added since last E3 is that 'agro' concept. That really changed the way the game played.

We found that once we added that we had to adjust a lot of the levels because it played really differently. So I think that's where a lot of the time was spent as well as how you play the AI in addition to co-op mechanics.

This isn't a one game deal then?

Ferriera: This is EA right? So when we have a hit, we'll make more.

Right now people tend to like it, so if we can make a sequel we can find out what people didn't like about the first and put in the stuff we didn't have time to - like originally we had maybe 60 different co-op moves and only a tenth of those are going to make it into the final product.

We've really tuned it down to what a player wants to play, because we're teaching people how to play a co-op game. So it's like 'you have to work together, you have to do this move, we have to train you in it', and to train that many is impossible.

So a lot we pulled back and now we're saying, now that you know the basics in the second iteration we can push it to the next level and incorporate even more.

The comment's almost becoming cliché, but there seems to be a lot of Gears of War influence in the cover system and all?

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Ferriera: If we're compared to Gears... Gears is a high scored game. It's an amazing game, one of the best on 360. I don't mind that comparison personally.

We looked at a bunch of shooters to figure out what the best cover system was. We looked at Rainbow Six Vegas and lots of different games to see what people had done and where they innovated in the shooter space. We took some of the most well received abilities in the shooter space and tied them into our shooting.

Our cover is a little different from Gears. You don't lock into crouch cover; it's dynamic, you can move in and out on the fly.

The controls are something that people adjusted to well, especially as we're a third-person adventure game. If we can adopt controls that people are used to, there's no need to innovate when something already exists that's great, correct?

The co-op is where we really wanted to innovate, take it to the next level and say 'this is what co-op should've been' and not just tacked on with an extra guy.

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