Visceral Games may have made changes to the franchise with Dead Space 3, many of which I have my reservations about, but one has to give them credit for the consideration that seems to have gone into their implementation. Much like the new co-op mode, it seems that the element of exploration that they have brought to the series is entirely optional – though that doesn’t mean it won’t be encouraged.
Talking to OPM, the executive producer behind the project Steve Papoutsis explained how exploration would be encouraged but not enforced.
“Think of the game having a variety of hubs, and then there are spokes that come off those hubs. Some are required for your alpha path or your A to Z progression through the game. You might find an audio, video or text log that motivates you to go find this place; you might be just exploring because you want to see what’s over in that corner of the world and find an interesting-looking door that could lead to a dungeon, so to speak, of stuff to do.
“There will be other paths available through the game just for you to go out there and find, and figure out what’s going on.”
Papoutsis then went on to explain that they aren’t merely relying on an inherent want of content to encourage these expeditions:
“There’s a lot of motivation that we hope drives the players to go explore the world and see what’s around. There are a lot of motivators in Dead Space 3 that are really going to promote a sense of exploration and getting off the beaten path – and scares aplenty.”
Obviously aware that many of the previous game’s scares were derived from heavily structured, linear experiences, Papoutsis acknowledged the difficulty that adventuring presented to the team:
“When you choose to go off the rails and explore stuff off the A to Z path, now you’re into an area that’s not that tailored, scripted, authored experience because we don’t know you’re going to be walking through this door at this exact moment, like in Dead Space 2. So it is a little bit different, but the trade-off is we’re allowing players to experience more game, and experience it with friends. And hopefully that trade-off is a good one for players.”
“That feeling of dread and claustrophobia? That can be derived from the elements out in the cold. When you have a white-out condition, you can’t see what’s in front of you, now you can have enemies coming out of the mist at you, or popping out of the snow at you. So you can create that, even in an open area. That’s one way we’re gonna do it.”
Those that wish for a return to the corridors and scripted scares they have become accustomed to, should find it to be unaffected by the encouraged exploration:
“If somebody chooses to just jump into single-player and play it A to Z and not do any of the beta content, they still have that very tailored experience that they have come to expect.”
My posts on Dead Space 3 usually contain an undercurrent of disappointment. This however, I have nothing to complain about. Knowing that I can, if I so desire, explore more of the frozen planet of Tau Volantis and be treated to terror presenting itself in new ways is incredibly exciting.