Pitchford: Colonial Marines experience leans closer to “gritty realism” than action

Friday, 3rd February 2012 16:14 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Randy Pitchford has described the gameplay experience of Aliens: Colonial Marines as being more akin to “gritty realism” than a typical action-shoot. Don’t you fret though: the “definitely” has plenty of action.

Speaking with the PS Blog, the Gearbox boss explained gameplay footage shown in videos by marketing “will tend to focus more on the action” side of things, stressing that it’s hard for viewers to “really feel difficulty and challenge” when watching promotional footage.

Pitchford also said the team is trying to strike the right balance between showing the player too much xenomorph and showing too little, by focusing adding value to the moments when the player actually comes into contact with one.

“It’s been fun for us to dream up the presentations, but we’re not approaching it like no one knows what a xenomorph looks like,” he said. “We do have some awesome new variants to reveal for the first time, so we try to get value out of those moments for the experience when you’re playing the game.”

The multiplayer component in the game is also a “big deal” for the development team, and it’s currently “getting a huge amount of attention.” Pitchford said Gearbox will soon be looking for opportunities for people to get hands-on time with the multiplayer, which will provide the firm with an outside perspective on the mode.

“Peer review and testing with customers is really important to us in the tuning process,” he said. “If [anyone] in Dallas, TX wants to be part of our user testing program, they should check out our website for more information.”

Finally, players will be able to step inside The Derelict spacecraft, discovered on the Acheron LV-426 moon and thought to have been destroyed during a meltdown, but Pitchford declined to comment further on it, due to his wish not to spoil anything.

Colonial Marines releases in the fall.




  1. DSB

    I hope it doesn’t suck. The gameplay video didn’t look too great, but it would be awesome to bring the series back to the 1999 AvP. I loved that game.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. TheWulf

    What they need to do is concentrate on aliens as a mostly a foe that generally can’t be killed, and concentrate on running. I doubt they’ll do that and I suspect the game will focus mostly around running. But one day I really hope that they’ll just do a game like this without guns, but perhaps give the player some really interesting survival tools.

    I mean, what if I don’t want to play marines versus aliens? That’s not interesting. Marines just aren’t that interesting. Space marines from 40K are only even barely tolerable because of their ridiculous outfits and even more ridiculous foes. But in general I’m just bored by them. Gears of War, Halo, the marines in the new Aliens vs Predator, and most marines you could name, really.

    I like Bulletstorm, though. I could see so much potential, there. If they worked a little more on the experiences outside of shooting them Bulletstorm could almost have become a Pratchett-like Sci-Fi experience. The way they mixed the serious with the funny, I genuinely didn’t think it would work because mostly developers drop the ball. But the writing was actually good. That was a delightful surprise for me, a game where the writing is actually good. So rare.

    I will remember the Waggleton P. Tallylicker line forever.


    But humour made that work, and they weren’t technically space marines either, they’re ex-space marines who’re out to take down the space marines! That just made Bulletstorm a bit more interesting. Generally, though, steroid-pumped, boring, lifeless, characterless, vapid, hollow space marines do not make for good stories. You don’t want to know them, and frequently, you want to kick them down an abandoned shaft and hope that they don’t find their way out.

    They generally tend to be heartless, genocidal monsters. And when playing them you begin to wonder whether they’re actually just the bad guys in this story – despite being portrayed as heroes. (Which is another writing faux pas for me, to have people portrayed as true heroes without anyone challenging that. Since these ‘heroes’ just tend to be omnicidal maniacs.)

    It’s never about survival, or duty, or vengeance, or anything. It’s just about killing things, it’s about big, steroid-pumped men with barely any intelligence to share between them who want to find ways to kill things better. I’m not into that. I doubt I’ll be into that with this game. To be honest, I wasn’t into it with Aliens.

    Frankly, in Aliens, I always hoped that the marines would all just die off and only Ridley would escape. She was the only one that deserved to, really. The rest of them pretty much easily fell under the ‘omnicidal dick’ category. Not to mention that the reason the Aliens were pissed off in Aliens was due to their number being captured and experimented on. But I won’t get into that now (despite it being known Aliens Universe lore).

    That’s why I tend to prefer playing the alien. For the alien it’s about survival, it’s about vengeance, it’s about protecting your family from these people who want to kill you, enslave you, or experiment on you. (The new AvsP opened with an attempt to enslave a bunch of xenomorphs.) For a space marine? It’s “ZOMG XENOS, KILL THEM!”


    So not interested. Soooo not interested.

    And it’s not human hate, because like I said, I’d be up for playing a janitor. This is, perhaps, why I loved the hell out of Rochard (which you should all play!). It’d just be a change to play a character who isn’t an omnicidal maniac. Who just wants to get out alive rather than killing everything between them and the exit to do that.

    And you can’t really do that with space marines.

    More is the pity.

    Space marines, frankly, are one sort of character that I wish would fall into obscurity and never be used again. Same for the fantasy knight which serves the same purpose there. I’ve had more omnicidal maniacs than I’ve ever wanted. I’m just sick of them now.

    I want more heroes like Rochard.

    I suppose maybe I just don’t have the sort of brain required to understand the appeal of being an omnicidal maniac? But then I realise… I honestly don’t want such a brain. It would terrify me, I’d feel like some kind of monster myself. Again: Blargh.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. Edo

    #2 Yeah,I agree about the Bulletstorm part,very underrated game,unfortunately,sequel wont be happening.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. Maximum Payne

    @3 If there wasn’t for pretty graphics game would sell even less.
    Whole level design was bad from gameplay perspective.Everything, like you don’t having big health but you are almost forced to kick every opponent into something is just wrong.They should had make it like Painkiller witch head lot of enemy’s on screen and lot of maneuvers and ingenious weapons design.
    If you loved Bulletstorm you should try Necrovision

    #4 3 years ago
  5. LOLshock94


    #5 3 years ago
  6. TheWulf


    Yeah, that Bulletstorm wasn’t successful was a real shame. There was a sense of purpose and humanity to that game which most lacked. Sort of like how Portal 2 worked, really. You feel as though the characters you’re playing aren’t just heartless killing machines.

    However, I get that feeling with games like Halo, Gears of War, and even with Skyrim. I’m not saying that this should be a problem to other people, because… to each their own, you know? But if all I’m doing is being a heartless, murderous bastard then I’m not having fun. In Bulletstorm, I had a purpose: I was going to keep Ishi alive, damn it.

    Bulletstorm, for all its flaws, had such a strong sense of purpose. It defined that game. And in having such a sense of purpose, it became fun. You weren’t killing just for the sake of killing (which is how a lot of games feel), but you were trying to get off world, you were trying to get Ishi to a good doctor, and you were trying to take out a corrupt general who was really fucking up the Universe for everyone else anyway.

    But in Aliens, it’s going to be… well, you’re paid money to kill shit. And I’m not interested. That’s not the sort of person I want to be, nor do I feel good about playing it.

    In the Aliens Universe, the humans are uncaring bastards in most cases, and this is mentioned by the lore, frequently. In fact, a lot of the extended Aliens Universe has made the xenomorphs out to be the victims – the often hunted. On one side, they have the predators who know they’re good survivors and hunt them for sport. On the other side, the humans know that they’re good survivors, and hunt them to enslave and genetically manipulate them.

    And really, the poor damn xenomorphs are just trying to catch a break. Don’t invade their hive worlds and they’ll leave your shit alone. Unfortunately, most of the humans in that Universe don’t seem to understand this concept. And so Alien infestation scenarios are usually due to escapees from some hidden military facility where they were being experimented on.

    I mean, if I were in some underground bunker being experimented on and I managed to free myself, I’d be two things as well – scared and pissed.

    That’s why I really dislike the humans of the Aliens Universe. They’re just unethical bastards with no purpose. I know most gamers absolutely love playing the bad guy, or worse, the omnicidal maniac who’d kill someone and their grandmother only to come home and have their praises sung about it by a peoples who’re too afraid to speak ill of them.

    But that doesn’t appeal to me, I need a sense of purpose in a game. I need to know why I’m doing a thing. And all too often in games, it seems like killing happens for the sake of killing. I come back to Skyrim because it’s my favourite example: Guards arrest bandits, so why is it that we’re forced to slaughter them in the thousands? And if there are thousands of bandits, then that’s no longer just organised banditry, that’s a rebellion. It’s a popular revolt. It’s the majority of people being pissed at us. In that scenario we’re not even allowed to reason with them.

    I just don’t find that appealing.

    It always bothers me in some of the games I play. I mean, sure, you have some games that don’t do that. L.A. Noire for one, Batman: Arkham City for another. I appreciate that. But often games make you feel too powerful, like you can kill everything, so where’s the threat? If it can’t kill you then why don’t you just leave it be? Why kill the thing that can’t kill you, and is ultimately defenceless compared to you?

    This is why there aren’t enough games that make a player feel powerless, games not about space marines but about more everyday people. This is, again, why I loved Rochard. Rochard is basically a miner, and he’s the guy who gets to do the heavy lifting with a gravity gun. The game, to appeal to the lowest common denominator, does give you a gun. But I completed it without ever using it. To me, Rochard isn’t a killer. He’s a guy who’s just trying to get him and his friends out of this sticky situation alive.

    There aren’t enough games about running, and exploring, and just trying to survive. There was a lot of running in Bulletstorm even and I was pleased by that. And the running actually made sense because you were trying to keep Ishi alive. You were intellectually and emotionally invested in doing so.

    And this is what happens with games frequently due to poor writing. There are so many games with poor writing, and in the action genre especially. Uncharted is a nice example – I’m sure Nathan Drake wasn’t supposed to come over as a xenophobic douchebag that hates every non-American culture with flaming ire, but that’s what the game turned him into. It felt a bit too much like ethnic cleansing, since you never actually fight Americans, and you kill too many people in general.

    It’s just that too many games have this feel to them, and I’m no prude, but when there’s no purpose to it then it’s all very questionable. And it really is poor writing and nothing else. That, and lazy development.

    For example: A mod is going to come along for Skyrim eventually that lets you actually arrest bandits and take them to the prisons (likely expanded) that you’re sent to when you’re arrested. And anyone in their right mind, after having experienced this, is going to ask aloud “Why wasn’t this in the game in the first place?!” and enlightenment will follow.

    I don’t know what it says about our culture, really, or us as a race when most of our entertainment seems to surround the antics of omnicidal maniacs. but I keep hoping for games with better writing, games with purpose, games played from another angle. This particular game is going to be about making players feel powerful as marines, they’ll be fulfilling the fantasies of violent people (and I’m sure there’s something sexual about that, for them) by letting them slaughter thousands of aliens.

    And, yeah. They can have that, if that’s what they want. For me? I want more intelligent games, which I don’t think is too much to ask. I don’t want a gun or sword placed into my hands, and to be told to kill things for entirely too nebulous reasons. As was the case in most games like Halo, Gears of War, Skyrim, and so many others. I want to survive, I want to experience, and occasionally I’d like to reason my way out of situations and employ non-lethal methods of survival.

    That’s one of the things that made New Vegas so impressive, really. Cast your mind back to that game and how it let you reason your way out of so many situations. That’s a good way of not making the player feel like a monster. A beautiful example? At the end of New Vegas there’s a war, you can gather allies for it and you can be ready to kill the Legion. Or! You can be a madman and you can jog all the way to their general and yell at him a lot. With a high enough speech skill you can actually talk him into retreating!

    That was one of the best moments in gaming history, for me.

    I talked an army out of war. With words.

    Sigh. I’d love to see more intelligent games. Well written, with purpose, and with the odd chance to at least reason with people. Or just without making the player a god, where they actually have to run from things rather than killing everything in sight. I mean, if I were on an alien world, I wouldn’t do the omnicidal thing and kill everything on that world just to ensure my own survival. Would you?

    There are other, better ways of doing that.

    It’s funny, I used to post these “essays” (as so-called by sociopathic crazyperson Meer) over on RPS. And now I post them here. I’m not sure whose loss and gain that is, really. But they may just be interesting to you. Or they may not. But here is where they are now, and here is where my thoughts are aired.

    If you don’t like ‘em, if they’re too much, too long, or whatever then just skip over them. I don’t mind. They’re there for people to read if they want to, no obligation.

    But yeah, I would like to see gaming grow beyond what it is.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. TheWulf

    @4 – In my case though I’m not sure if you’d understand why I loved Bulletstorm. There are things which are just as important to games as the gameplay itself – and sadly these often go ignored.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. Da Man

    I agree, #6 people really are idiots. Silly lowest common denominators play competitive games and can’t realize how similar Gears of War is to Halo, which in turn has lots in common with Uncharted.

    Poor nutjobs, they can’t comprehend toys with soul, like Bulletstorm, or better yet Postal. Now that’s what I’m talking about, you aren’t playing as some perfect sociopathic sissy in that game, that’s art for you. Nutcases, what did you expect, eh.

    ‘hey, dicktits! this game aint gonna preorder itself!’
    Says it all indeed.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. Maximum Payne

    @7,8 Little bit contradicting saying Bulletstorm have ”soul” and not typical space marine but Halo and Gears are ?
    Or I am wrong ?

    #9 3 years ago
  10. Da Man

    Once I thought I was wrong, but I was wrong :mrgreen:

    #10 3 years ago

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