Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 was released in 2013 to a mixed reception, the criticisms in part coming from the fact that the game was made too easy with the red dot sight. We talked to CI Games' Tomasz Andrzejewski, Tomasz Pruski and Marek Tyminski about the upcoming third instalment in the series and what lessons they have learned from the past.
First off, thanks for giving us the chance to play the game. It feels a tad hard as of now, will there be different difficulty levels to choose from at launch?
Tomasz Pruski: The difficulty is a difficult subject [Laughs]. But we're still in the phase where we're balancing everything and when we're done it will be thoroughly consistent. As the game has three core pillars (Sniper, Ghost, Warrior) we have to make sure that all the parts function since if you're caught in the game it's not necessarily over for you. We guess that real snipers get caught and we want the player to have a means of getting out of hairy situations. If you play as Warrior the game will get harder than other games in the genre and you'll have to craft things like medkits. The life bar doesn't regenerate and you have to fight tactically. But we don't want to create a niche game for just hardcore gamers.
Marek Tyminski: The game won't be too difficult to beat and it's not designed with high difficulty in mind, but you'll have a hard time if you decide to go in guns blazing with assault rifles on six enemies without thinking ahead.
But will there be different difficulty options?
Marek Tyminski: There will be a bunch of different possibilities in the options but that's not something we can talk about at length now. There won't be a "super easy mode" but it's a good balance and we're not aiming at doing the first person shooter equivalent to Dark Souls.
The red dot sight from Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 made the game too easy and it doesn't appear to be in this game. Did you remove it entirely?
Marek Tyminski: We constantly look back on our previous titles and since this is our biggest and most ambitious project so far, bigger than Lords of the Fallen, we always try to learn from past experiences and we've learned a lot about balance.
Tell me about the challenges that comes with developing a game that is more open ended compared to previous entries in the franchise.
Marek Tyminski: Doing a game that's open world is very different from doing one that's linear but we're not trying to do a new Grand Theft Auto, not at all.
Tomasz Andrzejewski: The differences between developing a linear game in which the focus is on the same path and one that's more open are gigantic. We have to make sure that it works on most computers and consoles but at the same time be careful to not make it too repetitive and have the player perform the same tasks over and over. In the beginning of development when we talked about where the game should be set someone said "Georgia", and we started looking it up and quickly realised that it would be perfect. It's in Europe, but it's got this sense of the Middle East with old Soviet architecture but it also has large forts and castles - perfect for sniping. Georgia is a big country with a lot of variety in terms of landscape with huge, open fields, swamps, high mountains and a lot more. We felt it would be a great fit. All of our maps are distinctly unique, and you will be able to tell them apart instantly.
Tomasz Pruski: Gameplay wise there's also enormous benefits to making the game more open. In linear games practically everything needs to be scripted but now we have more tools for the player so that they will be able to craft their own experiences. We won't have to hold their hands and at the same time we won't have to be afraid that they'll look behind something we didn't anticipate.
Speaking of level design - there was a lot of buildings in the demo we played, will it be possible to explore them all?
Tomasz Pruski: A lot of them. Not all, but a lot.
The map we played on was pretty big. How big will the maps be generally?
Marek Tyminski: They are pretty large. We don't want to say this or that many metres, for us it's not about making the game as big as possible, but rather making the experience as awesome as possible. It will be longer than some game in the genre and will have a story that's well crafted but there will, at the same time, be a lot of side activities. Our goal is not to make the biggest game world ever or the longest story.
How is it with the side missions? We spotted quite a lot of question marks on the map, can you tell us more about them?
Tomasz Pruski: The question marks are events in the world that is played out separately from the main story. It can be everything from wolves gnawing on a dead body or a small camp with armed soldiers in it. These question marks will be closely scattered and there won't be large parts of the map where nothing happens.
During our time with the game the map was unlocked from the start. How will you let players get through the game? Is the map completely unlocked from the start or will we need to unlock it step by step?
Tomasz Pruski: There won't be any artificial bottle necks in the game. The story missions will open up gradually in pace with the story unfolding. All the transport points will have to be unlocked by the player.
Marek Tyminski: Obviously all the maps won't be unlocked in the first hour of the game and players will have to get through specific points to be able to proceed.
What can you tell us about the game's story?
Marek Tyminski: Nothing, unfortunately. It's an interesting story with some twists and turns, that is all we can say.
Will the player get to make choices during the course of the game that will affect the story?
Marek Tyminski: Yeah, there will be choices. But unfortunately we can't talk about it right now. The story is an important component to our game.
Can you tell us more about the survival aspects of the game? For instance, in the demonstration we saw that we will be able to gather food.
Tomasz Pruski: When we speak about survival it's more about managing to survive behind enemy lines. You won't be tasked with hunting rabbits and setting up traps. You can gather materials to craft yourself a medkit and stuff like that but you won't be able to build bow and arrows, and such.