Interviews

Interview: Metro Last Light's Eastern promise

THQ shares the latest on its Russian sequel

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One of the things we're really proud of about 2033 was that for a game that was supposed to be post-apocalyptic and set in tunnels, we managed to escape a lot of the grey brown traps and we introduced lots of colour and variety. That's really been a goal this time around as well.

Some of the key differences are, we take you back to the station-city environments you saw from the first game but we've really gone to town creatively in terms of showing you very unique and distinct environments that many people might not be expecting including the one we've shown today which is this flooded subterranean station known affectionately as Venice.

The biggest changes we've made have been to the outdoor environments, part of that is for narrative purposes, part of it for art direction, part of it is to stretch the technology that we've had at our disposal.

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So in 2033 I think about 20% of the game was set outdoors and our environments were very consistent, they were grey, lots of snow and ice, they had this bleak charm about them but they felt quite uniform when you were out on the surface. By moving the storyline along we've hinted that the first signs of spring are there, we've introduced running water, vegetation, we see the sunlight breaking through from the clouds, we have day night cycles in the outdoor environments some really exciting dynamic weather effects whether its the clouds rolling across the sky, or mist or fog coming through or lightning or the rain lashing down.

It's just given a much broader range of colours, textures and environments to play around with. So we now introduce even more outdoor environments to the player and I think you'll see a much greater variety as well but at the same time, keeping the underlying sense of desolation and dread that you've come to expect from a Metro game.

The original game had a great variety of creatures from demons to nosalises and the highly memorable Librarians. What new creatures will we encounter in Last Light?

So a lot of the creatures from the first game make a return and we've remodelled absolutely everything about them, redesigned them physically, given them a much more complex behavioural patterns and attack patterns, completely overhauled the animation systems behind them. So we're pretty proud of the progress we've made with the mutants.

We've obviously showed you in the swamp area some of the mutant types that have evolved to that watery environment including the amphibian with the clawed arms and he'll use those as kind of armour or shielding that you either have to aim through or if you chip away at it and you can break things off.

There's also a smaller amphibian which is more of a scavenger, on its own it's not a huge threat but it will spit acid at your mask which not only damages you but can obscure your vision, meaning you have to use our new mask wiping mechanic. That normally happens in the heat of battle when things are trying to kill you at the same time.

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You've obviously built on the core gameplay mechanics. What new ones have you introduced and improved in Last Light?

Obviously the mask mechanic is something we showed at E3. It might seem like a small thing, but it's another player-controlled action that adds another layer to the whole survival experience outside. We've really overhauled our weapon handling and weapon management system in a variety of ways and part of that is to support Artyom's evolution as a character.

He's obviously been amongst the troop of rangers now and he's a little more competent as a protagonist. At the same time we really want to keep that vulnerability and that sense of threat that's so important for the game. So I don't think in any sense he's going to feel overpowered but he's just a little bit more competent in what he can do. So we've expanded his range of actions and the intuitiveness of the controls.

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