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IGTV: Tom French On The Saboteur

The last time we met up with Tom French, The Saboteur had just been announced. We’d seen a little bit of Sean, we’d seen a little bit of Paris, we’d spoken about the art style, and that was really all we could talk about at the time. Now, we’re set to learn a bit more. Click below to watch the interview or read on for the full, uncut transcript.So, what’s changed?The core of the game was designed at that point, we knew what was there, and every time we’d shown the game we’d focused on the missions. That’s a key to the game and that’s part of telling Sean’s story in the game, but there’s this whole layer of just sandbox gameplay that we’ve hinted about and we’ve discussed briefly but not really shown. So that’s really what we’re finally getting to show for the first time and just demonstrate for people to see.It’s an incredible world because it’s that old, used over and over again World War 2 genre. When you first came up with the idea, obviously Sean’s story was influenced by a real life saboteur. How was it trying to set it in an environment, in a genre, in a game where there are so many other games out there?*laughs* I think for us it was just, for one, having that personal story really helped a lot. Paris is also something that allowed us to have a lot of different mechanics that you wouldn’t see. And the idea of a saboteur rather than the front-line soldier really allowed us to open it up, and like I said, Paris, climbing Paris, and exploring Paris. But also just pushing that little fantasy element, turning everything up to 11, having things like Zeppelins and terror squad soldiers and kind of playing the fantasy of the war rather than what was the reality of the war just made it more exciting and interesting and made it something very different. And then on top of that having this whole art style, with colour, and black and white, just really seperates us from the typical World War 2 game.The Resistance is very important in this game. Never underestimate the help you can get from the Resistance. Also, the AI seems to be quite intelligent. The Resistance and the enemies, obviously, are both controlled by the AI. How difficult was it to sort of get that balance right between – you know, if you call in for example the Resistance to help you fight a group of enemies, how does it balance out, and do your Resistance level up as you level up? What’s the story?What happens with that is that it’s actually kind of the player’s choice. Early in the game, in the colour areas, the Resistance will show up. Not a ton of them; you can’t just run around mopping up Nazis in those areas completely freely, but Resistance will pop out of the doors and help you out. As the player plays through the game, you can get different guns and gear for Sean, but you can also give that to the Resistance. I can get the MP40 and the Carbine scoped rifle – much better guns than the hunting rifle the Resistance has been running around with – but you can feed the money, the economy, the contraband in the game into that and get the Resistance better gear, or start feeding into the supplies that they have so they’ll start showing up with leather, so they have more health, and they can actually last longer in a firefight. But once you start pushing the alarms up to level three, and four, and five, you really need to be careful yourself. You can’t just call in the Resistance; they’re not your Get Out Of Jail Free card. You’ve really gotta fight back at that point as well.Level five is the top, isn’t it? These are alert levels that work almost like stars on GTA, yeah? So how do they differ? What do the different levels bring, and when can you start going crazy at level five?*laughs* You have to be careful to get up there because Sean is very vulnerable and you have to use the cover. When we started really tuning the escalation of the alarms in the game, we started challenging each other, like “Everybody start now, push it to five, and then try to cool down the alarms.” And it’s really hard! What happens is, level one, you have standard Wehrmacht soldiers, the vehicles are pretty much like Kubelwagens, which are kinda like little jeeps, and then motorcycles with sidecars. Next level you start getting heavier soldiers and trucks starting to pour in more guys. Next level you start getting APCs with mounted guns on them attacking you, heavier soldiers inside of them. Next level those APCs will start showing up with terror squad soldiers in them that are heavily armoured, but the risk/reward at that point becomes “Now I want those terror squad guns,” because the only way you can really get them is through actually killing terror squads, or get ammo for them is by farming it off the dead bodies of these guys. So then you start pushing that, risking diving down in there – because you could be hiding up on the roofs. You can get to one or two hiding up on the roofs, but you’re going to start running out of ammo. Dive into the situation, grab one of their guns, stock up on ammo, grab maybe a rocket launcher. At level four the Zeppelins start coming in, attacking you, shoot that thing down, more terror squads. Level five, tanks show up, planes start strafing you, everything that pours out of an APC is a terror squad. So it really just gets big in scale and it gets really over the top and fun.{PAGE TITLE=IGTV: The Saboteur Developer Interview Page 2}And you’re fighting in what was probably one of the most sought-after battlegrounds in Europe during the second World War.Yeah, not really so much a battleground, but that city was so sought after, so yeah. The fantasy of just pushing the – again, exaggerating the reality of it, but eventually they throw everything at you to take you out there.To get around the city, obviously, Sean is a driver so he can hijack any vehicle and get in any vehicle.Yep.Do the vehicles have different levels of armour, or are we going to see a very standard mechanic for driving?The different types of vehicles, the different civilian vehicles, they’re – depending on the size and the scale – they’ll be tougher. The race cars are a little bit weaker but they’re faster, to your advantage. On top of that you’ll start getting the military vehicles which tend to be more armoured, actual armour like APCs, tanks, things like that. Then there’s also upgrades. You can actually upgrade the armour of the vehicle so Sean can actually last a little bit longer driving around in a car. So there’s a lot of elements that all play into even that aspect of the game as well. And the collections of just… collecting the cars, bringing them back to the shop so you have access to them later.So how then does Sean utilise the world? I presume he starts off in Germany, goes away from Germany, gets to Paris, makes contact with the Resistance, and then is taken up?What happens is, he meets this guy, Luke, when he’s hiding out at the Belle in Paris, and Luke is a Frenchman who really starts to teach Sean about the idea of the cause and fighting with these people, because they have this common goal – they hate Nazis. He’s got that “I hate Nazis” kind of mentality. And so they fight together, and then eventually that starts getting bigger and bigger and escalating in scale and scope, and Sean can use anything in the environment and climb the buildings, take out towers, zipline down, grab a vehicle, grab another weapon and it really is just a sandbox for the player.It’s an interesting one because there is so much scope here for potential multiplayer and co-operative play. Is this something that you’ve thought about? Is this something that you’d like to do? A group of saboteurs going in and destructing an area, playing co-operatively, drop-in, drop-out? It’s definitely something we thought about, but the idea of building the game of the scope and the scale and the size – I mean it’s a 5.5km by 5.5km map, and building all of that, we really had to focus on the core element of what Sean is and not distracting from that, and his story, and his personal fight, and just really wanting to make that the best experience we could possibly make. But yeah, we had a lot of ideas, and so maybe someday we could do that.I like the non-committal answer there, Tom! Picking up on that, one of the things that – when I first saw this, and it seems to become more and more apparent, and forgive me for saying this – is that it’s almost like a modern day, modern day-ish Assassin’s Creed, in which you’ve got weapons, you’ve got stealth elements, you’ve got the storyline – obviously it’s very story focused and very driven. How, obviously other than the setting, how is this different? Because, will you have side quests, or do you have to stick to a specific storyline, how big is the game?The game is about 20 to 25 hours, from what we’ve seen from focus tests, and that’s mainly focusing on the main story aspect of the game. There are side missions. Our mantra was “Everybody has a problem.” Sean’s got a problem, every Resistance member you meet has a problem. So there are side stories as well, so that’s probably another, for side stories, probably another five hours, maybe, in there. And then on top of that is this huge layer of occupation inside of it with towers and tanks and generals and APCs and all this stuff that you can go fight at any given point. There’s like 1,300 of those things in the world, so I have no idea how long that would actually take. All of our missions, we’ve focused really on creating a lot of variety inside of the missions in the game, so the missions all feel different from each other, but on top of that there’s this awesome sandbox and there’s a lot of different weapons. Sean can do his melee, but then there’s a lot of different types of firearms you can use – it’s not just one type of firearm – then there’s vehicles on top of that, there’s a lot of vehicles from civilian cars all the way up to tanks, and so there’s really a lot of breadth and scope inside of this game.{PAGE TITLE=IGTV: The Saboteur Developer Interview Page tile=”colo2: #00TyE==GTV:oTh Sa0000;”>What do you think is the most unique thing about this game? it’s doing so much, but it must have a unique thing that you’ve got, right from the start. Not the story, not the character, but something – the mechanic of the game.I think the most unique thing really will come down to the Will to Fight of the game. Visually it’s unique – literally standing between a block of colour and black-and-white, and you can feel the difference in those areas, and the fact that isn’t just a visual gimmick in the game. It is a gameplay element, where the Resistance show up and actually it starts unlocking things like shops in the world at different locations, and the fight-back zones where you can pull the Nazis in and fight back against them with the Resistance. I think that is something that is very different that you won’t see in other games.I know you said when we first spoke it was “silent-in, loud-out,” and that was the thing you were pushing, but I kind of like to go silent and stay silent. Is there an option of doing that, or do you have to play it as, like, “Right, let’s go in, blow the place up, and then go out loud.”There are a few missions you could get through by doing that, and we will reward you for doing that, but we do try to push it up to the action. In some of the missions where we’re trying to, we’re finding people, like, finding ways around it because it’s a sandbox game and there are so many approaches. People will find ways around it and that’s cool. I think it’s great for the player to just take the tools that we’ve given them and basically feel like they’re breaking the game, but at the same time they’re not – they’re actually being rewarded for doing so.And weapons wise, how many weapons do we have in the game?You know, I meant to count that out before I left, but there’s probably in the 25-30 range just as far as different firearms – pistols, machine guns, rifles, sniper rifles – but then there’s a couple of different types of sabotage weapons. There’s the traditional dynamite, there’s the RDX type, a remote detonation type device, there’s grenades, and then you can end up using vehicles for weapons. There’s a perk you can unlock where you can plant the dynamite in the car and then bail out of it, and it goes crashing and blowing up into things, like car-bombing things. And then there’s tanks, so you’ve got a whole layer on top of that. Mounted weapons… so yeah, there’s a lot of different vehicles and weapons in the game.Do you think with the Saboteur that this is just Sean’s story? Will we see Sean again? I mean, presumably if the Saboteur sells well, there’ll be a sequel. Will it be about Sean or will it be about somebody else, do you think?When we started creating the game we were falling into that GTA model, at first. We thought we’d create this game and make it about Sean, and then we’ll do another character for another game, but we really fell in love with Sean, and we want to see his fight go on. We really have all started to care about him on the team.So there is more scope to expand his story?Yeah, definitely. The war doesn’t wrap up by the end of the story, and Sean isn’t dead. There’s a lot of room for us to grow him. And there’s a lot of other interesting people you’ll even meet along the way, so yeah, it can keep growing and expanding.Do you think you’ll do that through DLC or through a new game?We haven’t announced any DLC plans but the world is extremely expandable, and you meet so many characters along the way, and they all have different stories, so Sean can graft onto those and connect them at any given point.

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