Splash Damage is a developer on a mission with Brink, and it wants you to come along for the ride.
Your mission, should you chose to accept it, is to dive straight into the game’s single-player mode with its vast customization skills, and start causing mayhem and destruction at will. The best part? You don’t have to go it alone.
Oh, sure, you be a lone-wolf running about the “ultra-realistic toon-style” game world fighting enemies and doing loads of crazy things – but sometimes you may feel the need for a wingman. Sometimes you may even feel the need to face-off with real people instead of AI, and that is where Brink has you covered. Whether it be co-op, or multiplayer, the game allows you seamlessly open it up on the fly so that you are instantly playing co-op, multiplayer, or going up against enemies controlled by other players.
During gamescom, VG247 was given the opportunity to play the game, which Keza described as a mix between Borderlands and Team Fortress 2 that was both adaptable and excellently balanced. Luckily, you won’t have to wait much longer to play it.
This is exactly what Splash Damage is aiming for, and studio boss Paul Wedgwood, who spoke to us during the Eurogamer Expo, seems very confident of the game’s success.
[Interview by Joe Anderson]
Can you give us an overview into the background of Brink?
Wedgwood: It’s definitely a shooter at its heart. The game features two competing social factions. First you have the resistance who represent the refugees who have arrived. Resistance cells have sprouted up and see themselves as sort of freedom fighters, which are fighting for fairer distribution of resources against the security, who represent the original founders.
So it’s really a class struggle. The security don’t see themselves as the bad guys, they see themselves as the people who are trying to maintain law and order. The thing is, the supplies are limited, so if someone doesn’t distribute them properly, then everyone is going to die. There is a very interesting conflict going on between these two factions and at the outset you get to choose which of these you would like to fight for.
What’s really different about Brink is, if you are at home playing on your own and you see a friend come online, you can just hit a button and seamlessly invite them straight into your game. Also, in Brink you are consistently progressing your character, just like in a massively online multiplayer game. This will see you upgrade things such as the look of your character, the gear you are wearing; tattoos; weapons; accent and you can also buy new skill upgrades as you progress through the game.
What this means is, when you are joined by a friend online, he is also using the character he has been playing with, so you will be able to keep progressing your individual characters together. You can even open up the game if you want, and have it filled with lots of strangers playing against you.
How many players does the game support online?
Wedgwood: We found the sweet spot to be eight vs. eight, as this is when you get the most intense battles around a coordinated front line, while still having just enough people around to remember who shot you and get them back.
How does advancing your character work within the game?
Wedgwood: What happens is, you earn experience points for all your successes, at the lowest level that’s incapacitating the enemy through shooting at them, or by bucking your teammates by giving them extra ammo or supplies, or by bucking their weapon.
Other ways to earn experience is by completing major objectives, such as planting explosives that blow up gates, hacking open doors, escorting diffuser robots, capturing command posts and that sort of thing.
In essence, we try to give players experience for things that you do which make the game more fun for other people.
Also, as you earn these experience points you level up, and as you level up you get credits that you can spend on new abilities, tools, gadgets and items, and you unlock additional gear for your wardrobe. So you can see you are becoming cooler as you level up and are become more experience within the game.
On the side of that we have small challenges and these test your ability at very specific areas of the game. When you beat these you unlock new weapons and other equipment for you to use.
How many different types of weapon are in the game?
Wedgwood: It’s difficult to put a final number as we are still in beta, but we have dozens of weapons and you can take one of these, such as the assault rifle and make loads of modifications to it. So, on the upper rail you can set the red dot sites, full on sniper scopes; on the front you can have a muzzle break, suppressor or silencer; on the underside you can add a grenade launcher or you can even swap out the magazine for quicker reloads or bigger payloads.
Every one of the modifications does come with advantages and disadvantages, which are displayed to you on a stats table on the right, so it’s really easy for you to decide on what’s best for you, based on your character.
Are there different classes to play within the game?
Wedgwood: Yes, you can play as one of four combat roles. If you have a great aim and want to be on the front line, then you can play our assault class, which is called the solider. He has the biggest suite of different grenades; he gets special Kevlar armour upgrades, uses all of the cool weapons and stuff. If you play as a big body type you get access to these huge grenade launchers and mini guns.
If you wanted to, you can play as an operative which is a stealthier combat role, sneaking behind enemy lines, hacking open doors, incapacitating the enemy and disguising yourself as them. You can also play more of a supportive role, such as an engineer, where you are deploying defense turrets, shoring up defenses and bucking the weapons damage of your team. Or, you can play as a Combat Medic, running, gunning and shooting but also handing out help, giving people adrenaline boosts or speeding up the rate they are able to move with fleet of foot upgrades, so you are really able to benefit your team.
We also have a mission system, if you hit up on your d-pad it will give you the best thing you can do right now to help your team mates. This is AI based, so will take note of the current situation, and depending on your class will tell you the best thing to do at that time.
Do you feel the characters are quite balanced?
Wedgwood: Balance is a key issue for us. This will be the fourth multiplayer game we have made at Splash Damage if you include the first mod we did back in 2000. Even though Brink breaches single player and multiplayer, it’s a game were we have been obsessed with spawn time, travel distances, transit distances between spawns, movement speeds for combat roles and how the different abilities play off against each other. A ton of work has gone into this area of the game.
We actually hired a great guy called Neil Alphonso, he was the lead level designer on Killzone 2, and he is our lead designer, working for Richard Ham who is the director, and he is going through the polishing stages right now. We have reached beta, and everything we do from now on is about game balance and polish in time for its Spring 2011 release.
Are you planning to release any DLC for the game?
Wedgwood: We haven’t planned anything at the moment.
Will the game support 3D?
Wedgwood: I don’t know, I mean the industry is yet to tell if 3D is going to take off in a big way for games. I’ve got a feeling it’s here to stay for movies now, but I think something even the great directors appreciate, is the fact to make a 3D movie really successful, you do need it to have been designed and written with 3D in mind. With videogames, I think the same is true. If you want to make a game which takes advantage of 3D then it has to be built as a game with 3D in mind.
If hardware comes along that allows anyone to make anything 3D, then I think most shooters would do that, but that’s not to say there’s any particular need or desperation to do something about this at the moment.
Will you be releasing a demo for the game?
Wedgwood: Again, we are undecided about that at the moment.
Will Brink be identical on all three platforms?
Wedgwood: Yes. We developed the game from the outset to be visually identical on all three platforms; none of the platforms are a port of the other platforms.
The technology for each version has been built from the ground up to take advantage of the platform it’s appearing on, so we have fundamentally the same game with visual and gameplay parity on all three platforms.
Finally, Brink is a shooter, there are a lot of shooters out there, so why should people buy your game?
Wedgwood: Well I think we are the first game to simultaneously give you a world you have never seen before, removing the frustrating and artificial constraints of movement in shooters by providing you with our new smart move system. We also provide you with a system to advance your character with the largest suite of customisations, statistics and gun customisations, I think I’ve ever seen in any shooter and then allow you to play that character, seamlessly between single player and multiplayer.
I think we are the first shooter to do this and we are the only game on the show floor today to do this, which is why we have the biggest stand here and the biggest queues.