PAX 2008: Insomniac confirms drop-in/drop-out Resistance 2 co-op

Colin Torretta
C. Torretta|09.05.08

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Colin Torretta
September 5th, 2008
PAX 2008: Insomniac confirms drop-in/drop-out Resistance 2 co-op

Last weekend at PAX, we sat down with Bryan Intihar, the Community Manager / Hand Model (yes, that is on his business card) for Insomniac to go over Resistance 2. We were able to get some fascinating details about the secretive co-op mode (drop-in/drop-out confirmed!), as well as some interesting story tidbits (evidently this time around, Hale remembers he can talk).

To start things off, could you give us a quick rundown of changes from the first Resistance?

Sure, there's a lot of course -- but in terms of the campaign we've put a lot more emphasis on Nathan Hale and that comes through in the story and how we're presenting the story. In R1, it was much more of a narrative approach with Rachel Parker telling the story, giving it a third-person feel. This time around it's all about Hale.
So will the story be told Half-Life style, purely through Hale's eyes?

Some will, yeah -- but then other times we'll do more traditional, really cool cut scenes. We went down to San Diego and did them all mo-capped, we use this new camera technology that actually lets the camera guy walk through the cut scenes, to make the watcher really feel like they're in it. It's really pretty cool; they have this room with four huge monitors and the camera guy can act like he's actually in the scene. It gives the cut scenes a kind of shaky-cam, real-world effect, like you're another person in the scene. It really helps make the cut scenes look beautiful.

What are some of the other big changes?

Well, the second big change from the first Resistance is the environments themselves. There is a lot more variety compared to the first game, you'll go to small towns, big towns, places like Iceland. The other big thing is just the color palette itself, the California level [being demoed at the Sony booth] is unlike anything you would have seen in the first game.

One of the other things we learning from the first game is to start off with a bang. Resistance 1 took a while to get going -- this one is like you're in the mix, you're in the fight right away. That was a big emphasis for us. Those would probably be the big changes, but there were lots of other little things that we improved as well. We worked to make the enemy encounters better and moved to a two weapon system to help us make the encounters more dynamic and engrossing.

So going back to the way you're presenting the story this time around, will Nathan Hale actually TALK in Resistance 2?

Yes, you will definitely hear Hale speak more this time around -- not too much though that it becomes annoying. But like I said, one of things we're doing in Resistance 2 is putting a larger emphasis on Hale's story, his internal struggle with the virus and what he's becoming. Definitely going to be putting more of an emphasis on that this time around for sure. And him talking more will be a large part of that.

That actually brings up another question -- in Resistance 1, when Hale gets infected, he gains superhuman healing powers as well as nifty gold eyes. But nothing else happens. With R2, do we see a continued evolution of this plot idea? As you say, he's still fighting the virus, so will Hale's fight against the virus inside himself unfold purely via cut scenes, or will we see actual changes to him that goes beyond just the story.

That's an excellent question! And I will say 'play the game' -- that's all I can say about that. It is an excellent question though, and some of what you just mentioned will definitely be revealed in R2.

Insomniac games have always been famous for their huge arsenal of wacky, berserk weapons. Have you guys increased the number of the weapons from the first Resistance?

In term of numbers, I don't know the total off the top of my head -- but yeah that is definitely a hallmark of Insomniac games. It's kind of a collaborative effort, with everybody putting in ideas on what they'd like to see out of the weapons. But yeah, we're definitely taking it up a notch in R2 -- we recently released footage of the Splicer, were basically it shoots out a bunch of saw blades. So if you're in a room and fire it off, the blades will go ricocheting all around -- bouncing off walls and ceilings until they hit something. And then there's the secondary file where you hold down the fire button until the blade turns red hot and when you release it, it will just dig into an enemy and keep spinning in their body as it rips them apart. The Splicer also helps show off the ability to hack off limbs and heads of enemies, the new dismemberment model we have is really cool.

And even something like our pistol, the Magnum, we've worked hard on. I mean, how do you make a pistol cool? How about you make the bullets sticky, so that you can shoot an enemy a bunch, and then wait for him to walk back into a group of his buddies, and detonate all the glowing bullets stuck to his body? One of my favorite tricks is to line up a bunch of shots on the ground and wait for the Grims to start running down an alley towards you and BAM blow them all up as soon as they cross the line. So just weapons like that really show off the amount of work we've put into the arsenal, and there are other weapons that we haven't shown off yet that are really cool as well.

We've also done a lot of tweaks to the existing weapons that we're bringing back from the first game, like making it easier to tag enemies with the Bullseye, or make the Auger 'see-through' walls ability much more useful. Instead of just seeing the reticule turn red, you actually see outlines of the enemies near the reticule. So yeah, we've definitely put a lot of work into the weapons in R2.

In regards to multiplayer, what made Insomniac do the leap from 40 to 60 players? Seems kind of arbitrary considering 40 was already an almost unparalleled number of players for a console multiplayer game.

Well I think part of it was to prove that we could do it. But at at the same time we wanted to make sure players truly felt that they were part of a huge battle. So when it goes up to 60 for Skirmish mode (our main objective based mode), it's 30 vs 30 -- but we also have the squad based mechanics in there of 4-6 guys. So we use this term 'massive battles, greater intimacy' to describe our goal of Skirmish mode. We want to feel part of this huge battle, but also feel the intimate aspect of a smaller deathmatch-style game. As you complete your objectives, you may run into rival squads were you go back and forth with this squad over a particular objective -- they're attacking, you're defending, or you're just fighting on the way to the objective.

Have you guys specified the number of gameplay modes in multiplayer yet?

No not yet, we're showing Skirmish right now -- but we'll have most of the classics like deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag, etc. But one of the things for multiplayer that we want to to drive home is that we're really working to make multiplayer more accessible to everybody. Things like the Berserks, which are like temporary powerups, but also the new scoring system which is an experience-based system, which rewards people for productive actions like guarding a base or completing objectives. So stuff like that helps the guys who aren't hardcore FPS players, but still want to feel like they're contributing to the fight and the flow of the match.

Onto some co-op questions, similar to the 60 person multiplayer question -- the 8 player co-op question is pretty unusual, was it again just to prove that you could do it? Or was there some specific goal in mind with the 8 player support?

Our dev guys put a lot of time and thought into it, we didn't want to just have the single player game again with an additional character. We felt we could do something else, we felt like there was a way to do it by making a whole second mode for co-op. Was eight players the sweet spot? I'm sure they did lots of studies, though I came in a little bit late into the project when that was already decided so I don't have a lot of insight into it. But again, you don't have to play 8 player co-op, you can do 2 or 4 or whatever. The game will dynamically scale depending on the number of people playing at the same time, as more people join we'll throw more bad guys at you -- make it harder.

But we'll also scale it up depending on the different levels of your characters. As your guy levels up, the monsters will become harder to kill as well. We are using a class based system, so you can be a Medic (who can obviously is the healer), then you have the Soldier with the big chain guy -- he's the guy at the front lines, and then you have the Spec-Ops, who's kinda the guy who's sitting back -- dealing damage but also supplying people with ammo. It's definitely a team base game, we wanted people to stick together as a squad. If you go off on your own, you will die. We'll be throwing a LOT of enemies at you, especially in 8 player mode where they're just coming at you like gangbusters. But it's really cool when you see 10 Chimerean over here, 15 Grims over here, 3 Ravagers in front of you with their big shields, and then all of the sudden you see a drop ship come down and let loose even more Chimereans into the battle. But even with all those enemies, it's so empowering when you have eight guys working together as a squad taking all of this on.

I was playing the private beta earlier, and my headset wasn't working -- but it didn't matter. The co-op was so intuitive that everybody was just working together as a team, it was refreshing to see people 'get' the gameplay right away. The Medic is out healing people, the Spec-Ops is dropping ammo so that the Soldier is fully stocked up, I think we really got it. It's all about levelling up, getting new Berserks, new weapons, and some really cool stuff to customize your character with.

So you mentioned that you can level up your co-op character, does this mean you can level up each of the different classes?

Yeah, definitely -- you can have a level such-and-such Medic, and then switch over to Soldier with no loss in progress. Then you can level up the Soldier as you feel fit. You're not locked into one co-op character. To level up characters, it uses the same system as the competitive multiplayer game modes, where you get experience points from killing enemies, completing objectives, and generally moving the game forward.

Is co-op drop-in / drop-out?

Yes, it is drop-in / drop-out, and it will dynamically scale. I'm pretty sure that how it works is that the next 'wave' of enemies will be scaled up to the number of current players in the game.

Insomniac in the past has mentioned that co-op mode will have a story element to it. It sounded like it was not going to be the in-depth narrative of the single-player portion, but will it be as light on story as the co-op missions in GTA IV?

Yeah, we have been calling it 'story light', but there is definitely an over-arching storyline where you find out what is going on, why the squad is doing what they are, and the results of their actions. It won't be as in-depth as the campaign mode, but you won't be tossed into a map with no purpose. There will be motivation and context for what you are doing. The storyline is in parallel to Nathan Hale's story, it will help explain some of what is going on. It's in the same time frame so that as the squad is doing their thing, Nathan Hale will be over here doing his own thing.
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