In one of those amazingly hard-hitting ‘community’ interviews, during which a developer or publisher interviews … err .. itself, the Thief team has mentioned that the XP system planned for the game has now been dropped.
Those familiar with the series (including myself) had expressed horror and confusion at the largely non-violent Garrett apparently being awarded experience points for ‘headshots’ during various gameplay demos. Here’s what I wrote in an E3 Preview of the game back in June:
The series already had a perfect system of “levelling up”; one which matched both Thief’s tone and theme. If you stole a lot of gold on any given level, you then had more to spend in the pre-mission shop for the next one. Your reward for being a talented thief was the option of more tools (and an easier ride) for the upcoming mission. Gold pieces were your experience points. It was a system that was simple and elegant.
Happily, it seems the developers have reached the same conclusions. “The goal is to use gold to buy elements to progress, to encourage the player to steal. The player will be able to choose how to spend money, for more stealthy or more aggressive tools,” says latest game director Nic Cantin.
“The main goal of a thief should be to gain loot. Garrett is already the Master Thief, so we saw no need to have XP as a core mechanic,” he adds “… the E3 reaction was right, rewarding killing like that was wrong for a Master Thief.”
The same ‘interview’ hints at changes being made to the equally unwelcome quick-time events that have also been shown in gameplay demos.
I’m someone who feels that the majority of information released about Thief up to this point has made it sound like a disaster waiting to happen, so any changes of this kind are pretty welcome. XP was a boneheaded decision that took the game absurdly far away from its origins. Losing it is a sensible choice.
The question is, with Thief due for release in February, are all of these changes being implemented too late? Eidos had presumably designed the game with an XP system in mind, so ripping it out at this late stage while maintaining a coherent game structure could be a daunting task.