With World War II shooter Enemy Front inching ever closer to release, we thought it was a good time to sit down with CI Games' Creative Director Stephen Skelton and chat about the game.
Strategy Informer: First of all, why did the team decide to return to the WWII FPS?
Stephen Skelton: There is a firm belief the market is ready for a WWII FPS. We haven’t had one in a while and what we’re seeing from our community channels and various other areas is that people are looking forward to a return to WWII. Modern day shooters have made up the majority of FPS’s over the last 7 or so years, so it seems a good time to revisit. Especially since the shooter scene has evolved, there are new mechanics and higher expectations of player choice. We’re happy to bring those to the WWII setting.
Strategy Informer: There's some regions of the world during WWII we've never really seen in a game that make an appearance in Enemy Front. How did you decide which areas of the war to cover and what made you choose these particular ones?
Stephen Skelton: Enemy Front is a story of resistance. The team have scoured the history books to find the best of these moments to plug into the game. Whilst all are based in historically accurate locations, in some cases the missions the player experiences might well be more fictional in nature. We are after all a piece of entertainment. It was an ideal case of finding locations and stories which were fresh but also relevant to the history of WWII. The Nazi occupation of Europe and the armed resistance against it has its place in books and even movies but in games this is still new territory.
Strategy Informer: There are some guns in EF that those who've played games set in the same period won't have seen before. How do you go about testing and recreating those less famous weapons?
Stephen Skelton: We have some great weapon sources in Warsaw, with the local museum displaying the most used and most successful weapons used within the Warsaw Uprising. Most of these weapons are based on other more famous weapons, but were changed based on country of manufacture, and in the case of Poland, resources available. The Lightning SMG for example, is based on the British Sten design, but was created in the houses and basements of Polish citizens to assist the Polish Home Army, using materials they had at hand.
Strategy Informer: Are the missions based on actual historical events?
Stephen Skelton: In some cases yes, but as mentioned previously we do take creative license with our missions to make sure they are exciting and maximise the fun factor. A WWII game can be immersive even without following historical events too closely, as long as the general situation, resources and context remain accurate. One example of that is a battle during the Warsaw Uprising which lasted for many days while we compress it into a single mission.
Strategy Informer: I wondered if I could get your thoughts on why you chose an American journalist protagonist, as a Polish development team?
Stephen Skelton: Robert Hawkins, our protagonist, actually has Polish blood in his veins but we had good reasons for choosing such a character: we wanted to look at the war in Europe, its heroic resistance movements and the largest armed uprising of that time, the Warsaw Uprising, from a new perspective. Poles know that chapter in their history very well but few others do. While the Uprising is a political issue here, at least in some aspects, it’s also a universal tale of heroism and a very good setting for a World War II shooter. Bringing in an ‘external’ observer (also by calling, hence his profession) was a good way to tell our story.
Strategy Informer: What can players expect from the shooting. There's an element of classic run n' gun to it, but what other options are there for players?
Stephen Skelton: We’ve worked hard to get a number of different experiences in place, based on player choice. R&G is the first of course, we are after all an FPS. But we extend this with three other options. We provide Stealth mechanics that allow players to sneak around the maps, taking out enemies silently in order to get to advantageous positions. Body carrying, luring stone and an AI visibility system for the player assist this mode of play. Sniping is another option for the player. We’ve worked hard in making sure AI handles both close and distance combat for this reason. We have a sniper ballistic system in place to provide windage and bullet drop, kill cams add a bit of flair. Binoculars allow the player to view the battlefield and decide tactics and strategy.
The fourth option is Sabotage. These are environmental interactions mainly, where the player can spot opportunities in each level, that if interacted with will provide damage to enemy locations, reduce their numbers. One example is in our Norwegian “Oscarsborg” level, the player can shoot out support struts holding a large pile of logs in place. Once shot these will roll into an enemy area. Other example is to shoot satchel charges the Nazi’s are placing at a tunnel entrance. The explosion reduces the numbers of enemies and causes confusion among them, allowing your smaller force a better chance of cleaning them all up.
Strategy Informer: The sniping in familiar feels satisfying with the kill-cam and bullet drop. Is this the same system as in the Sniper Ghost Warrior series?
Stephen Skelton: It's a similar system to that seen within the Ghost Warrior series. We’ve taken the best bits, which we know fans love, and incorporated them into all aspects of the game: level design, AI, equipment.
Strategy Informer: Can you choose weapon loadouts at the start of each mission?
Stephen Skelton: The player will start each mission with 3 weapon slots and the game provides initial weapons. All levels will make most weapons available, either to be discovered, or carried by enemies.
Strategy Informer: Could you describe the open nature of the missions? How open are the levels?
Stephen Skelton: We have two distinct types of level. The Warsaw Uprising levels are more closed in, linear on first glance, but with a number of extra routes carved into them to provide player options. These are more akin to the WWII shooters of old and carry the brown/black/grey palette people are accustomed to in WWII shooters. The sandbox levels, which make up approx 65% of gameplay are the opposite. These are large wide sections connected with choke points. Each area has its own experiences and supports all gameplay styles. You can sneak, snipe, sabotage or scream your way into battle.
Strategy Informer: Could you talk about multiplayer options? Will there be a co-op mode?
Stephen Skelton: There is no co-op for the game. Multiplayer will be available. We’ll be offering the mainstay DM & TDM. Then we have some other modes that fit more with the tone and feature set of Enemy Front. More on these bespoke modes to follow. Many thanks to Stephen for chatting to us.
If you're clamouring for a return to the glory days of the World War II shooter you'll have to wait until Enemy Front is released on June 10. In the meantime, you may want to check out our preview here: http://www.strategyinformer.com/pc/enemyfront/previews.html