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Battlefield 3: Aftermath hands-on – ravage and ruin

Wednesday, 24 October 2012 13:36 GMT By Dave Cook

Battlefield 3′s 4th DLC pack Aftermath is set after a devastating Tehran earthquake. VG247′s Dave Cook speaks with DICE, and goes hands on with the new content.

DICE

Founded in May 1992 as Digital Illusions CE. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

DICE’s first title was Pinball Dreams on SNES and Amiga. It’s still rather ace.

Released the first entry to the Battlefield series, Battlefield 1942 in 2002 to critical acclaim.

Aftermath is the fourth expansion for 2011′s Battlefield 3.

Near the start of the Battlefield 3 single-player campaign, Staff Sgt. Blackburn narrowly survives an earthquake in the heart of Tehran city. More than just showing off Frostbite 2′s capacity for destruction, the set-piece also gave DICE inspiration for a new expansion pack.

The concept of Aftermath was born, and the studio started to think about what happened to the soldiers still trapped among the rubble and ravaged streets. As such, the DLC features ruined maps littered with flattened buildings and debris.

Even the soldier models have been given a makeover, as they enter the fight with bloodied faces and tattered fatigues. There is also a trio of new vehicles bolstered with scrap metal salvaged from the chaos, giving the whole expansion a survival theme.

It’s a neat slant for a series that has championed destruction for some time now, and it has given DICE room to let its map designers run riot. We played a few sessions on a map called Epicenter, set in a twisted mess of toppled office blocks and cracked roads.

Fissures create ad hoc trenches along the roads, collapsed walls are now ramps leading up to multi-tiered floors of what was once a hotel, and flattened residential areas have become killzones lined with snipers. It’s a master class in map design, tailored to long and short range play alike.

All of this new content is great – and we’ll get to the superb Scavenger mode in a moment – but first we turn to DICE producer Craig Mcleod to throw him some questions about Battlefield 3′s sustained popularity.

The Battlefield 3 DLC season is still rolling on strong, and the player base has sustained throughout. How gratifying has it been to see public interest hold up for so long?

Craig Mcleaod:This has been fantastic for us within the studio, and all of our hard work has really paid off. It’s also great because we care a lot about our community, and we really want to help cater for, and mix up the experience for them. So to see them still playing – all 15 million users out there – is fantastic.

I have to ask though, some people out there really want to see a dinosaur expansion for Battlefield 3. Have you seen that? What do you think of that idea?

I’ve seen that yeah. I think each game gets it’s kind of little…quirk that players like. We understand this and actually, we do have one hidden Easter Egg which is along this theme in Aftermath for players to find.

The Aftermath expansion itself is set after the earthquake in the single-player campaign. How have you looked at really delivering a sense of ruin throughout?

So, Aftermath is set after the Tehran earthquake that you saw in act 2 of the singe-player. We wanted to tell a story and we wanted a really nice theme. So when looking through the single-player, this was a fantastic event that everyone knew and that everyone could relate to.

”For the first time ever in Battlefield 3, we’ve come out with new character models. They are wounded, they are bandaged, and they’re bloodied.”

When we thought about the singe-player, we looked at that moment and about how your character and other people left the scene, but then what about the people who are still there? We wanted people to see the other side of that earthquake.

That’s really where the theme was coined from, and we’ve really carried this through with what we’ve done in Aftermath. You have the maps, obviously, which have war-torn buildings, the streets are all cracked up. That is all shown in the environment.

But we wanted to go a little bit further, and so all of our vehicles are modified versions of existing vehicles. We’ve welded on steel plates, and they’ve been bolstered with salvage found around on the ground – things that were destroyed in the earthquake.

For the first time ever in Battlefield 3, we’ve come out with new character models. They are wounded, they are bandaged, and they’re bloodied.

It’s like a real ‘survival at all costs’ angle.

Yeah exactly, and wanted to show that we’d thought about this and we cared about what we were delivering. It’s like our new crossbow weapon – it’s not a standard crossbow – it’s actually an assault rifle stock that has been turned into a crossbow.

Even our new mode delivers a sense of, ‘you’ve survived this earthquake with literally nothing. Now, go find weapons and rebuild your arsenal.

I have to say that I really did get that sense of collapse on the Epicenter map we played today. It’s all uneven, full of hidden paths and shattered locales. Was that a challenge to design?

Yeah, the new levels were kind of tricky to design to be perfectly honest. The reason for this is that we usually start off with clean-cut levels, then the destruction kicks in and you see its transformation. With this we’re coming in at the end of an earthquake so it’s already destroyed.

“I can safely say that there’s still as much destruction on these maps, as there are in our previous maps. Another great thing that the earthquake theme has allowed us to do is to create more verticality with out levels.”

You’re seeing broken buildings, fires and torn up roads. It was a challenge to sort of improve that, but we’re still adding destruction to it – we’re still doing more. You can still collapse buildings, and on one of our levels, one of the monuments collapses, which can also take out enemies by the way.

I can safely say that there’s still as much destruction on these maps, as there are in our previous maps. Another great thing that the earthquake theme has allowed us to do is to create more verticality with out levels.

You have street level, but then you have the fissures in the roads that then create a lower level for people, so that they can sort of hide and take cover in there.

You then have balconies, and buildings which you can get into, giving you an even higher level. So you really need to think about what’s on your level, but also what’s above and below you as well.

It feels really sniper-friendly too. I was driving my jeep down a street and some guy sniped me through the wind shield. His vantage point was brilliantly designed. It did seem like you’ve engineered a play-space that suits mad, memorable stuff like that.

Definitely, I mean we have a lot of areas where you can have memorable moments. You mentioned the sniping one – there is actually a particular road in Epicenter that leads on flag point A to flag point B. It’s a nice, long area for you to snipe.

We also have the hotel area in there which is a lot tighter, so sniping would do you no good there whatsoever. It’s the variety of gameplay, so no matter how you want to play – be it sniping or run and gun, or vehicles – then you can do that.

Scavenger Mode

We then return to our gameplay session, and indulge in a round of Scavenger, Aftermath’s brand-new mode. It sees all players starting on the border of scaled-down renditions of the pack’s four maps.

All players begin with just a pistol, a single grenade and one specialisation. As soon as the round begins however, all players must dash inward in search of more powerful weapons.

Firearms are spread across three power tiers, with the more deadly guns located near the centre of the environment. The further you venture into the map, the more likely you are to be be spotted and killed. It’s a neat risk-reward mechanic.

However, we never found that the top tier weapons were stupidly powerful, and Battlefield 3′s solid balancing remained, as we often killed enemies holding tier three weapons with our revolver.

Amid the chaos, we return to Mcleod and pick up where we left off, and to get a better understanding of both Scavenger mode and the impact of Frostbite 2 on the expansion, as well as the engine’s use across EA at large.

Can we touch on Scavenger mode? It’s really fun.

Yeah sure. Well, just as a quick overview of what’s in the Aftermath pack, we’ have four new maps, which is Epicenter and Markaz Monolith, Saadi Palace – which is focused around a big, ruined parliament building – and we have Telemarket, which is like this hillside village.

”We wanted the players to feel like, ‘I’ve just been trapped in this earthquake and I’m not going to have all of my equipment, I’m not going to have everything I used to have.’”

We also have three new vehicles, starting with the Phoenix on the U.S. Side, which is a modified humvee. We have the Barsuk on the Russian side, which is a modified Vodnik, and we have the civilian van that has been fortified called the Rhino.

There’s the new crossbow weapon, and we also have ten new assignments, ten dog tags and five new achievements or trophies. So yeah, coming back to Scavenger, this really is born out of the Aftermath theme.

Because we wanted the players to feel like, ‘I’ve just been trapped in this earthquake and I’m not going to have all of my equipment, I’m not going to have everything I used to have.’ So you are literally rising up with a pistol, a grenade and a specialisation.

From that point on, it’s really important for you to explore the map to find new weapons. What we’ve done with the weapons is tiered them into three levels. So level one is your less-powerful weapons like SMGs, and they can be found around the outskirts and safe zones.

But as you go up through the levels to level three, then you’re really going to have to risk your life to get them.

It’s a good risk-reward system.

Yeah thanks, and exactly, it’s risk-reward in its basic sense. So if you’re on level three you’re in open areas, you’re around the flags, so you know you’re going to encounter someone else out there, and that’s exactly what we’re going for.

Yeah you guys seem to have balanced the gun well in that mode, because our group were taking each other out with SMGs, and it still felt that whoever has the better aim wins. That’s how it should be.

We didn’t want just level three weapons to dominate everything. That just wouldn’t be any fun and it wouldn’t make any sense. They need to really be balanced and the great thing is – if you think of the Battlefield 3 as a whole – weapons are incredibly balanced anyway.

“We obviously developed the Frostbite engine at DICE, and we love what we can do. It gives us immense flexibility in terms of what we can do with levels within our game. But probably the proudest thing we have, is that we can share that with EA.”

That kind of came into Scavenger anyway. The other thing that is really cool is, we think about our players. We just launched Battlefield 3 Premium Edition for new players who are coming into the game a year after its launch.

They might be a little nervous that some guys have been levelling up for 400 hours, and think ‘how can I compete with that?’ This mode is perfect for you because whether you’ve played for 400 hours or one hour, you’re all on a level playing field. It’s up to you to make the most of your own skill.

We saw a recent quote from EA saying that Frostbite 2 is the best FPS engine out there today. What do you make of that?

We obviously developed the Frostbite engine at DICE, and we love what we can do. It gives us immense flexibility in terms of what we can do with levels within our game. But probably the proudest thing we have, is that we can share that with EA.

We see other titles using this engine from studios that are able to show them in the best possible light. That’s just fantastic for us to see. Our engine is always growing, and because other people are using it, they’re using it in different ways.

They create tools that they need which we didn’t initially need or think about, and then we can also add that in. Because of this, the Frostbite engine is constant;y developing and improving. It will be completely different in a year’s time.

How helpful is it to have a bespoke engine that you can build upon as you see fit?

It’s incredible, because if you have an engine that isn’t your own, it’s hard to push its boundaries. Like, we really want to do this. It’s important for us, it’s important for our community, and it’s important for our general gameplay theories.

We want to be able to do something new, to push our boundaries. We can do that, because we have the time right there to change the engine, build on it, and that’s huge. I don’t believe our game – or potentially other games within EA – would be as good as they are, if not for the flexibility that we have.

Battlefield 3 Aftermath is out initially for Xbox 360 premium subscribers from December 4th, and non-premium members December 18th.

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2 Comments

  1. Beta

    Another excellent article Dave :)

    Scavenger mode sounds fun, thinking I may treat my self to this after I clear the backlog of games from PS+, 5 games I’ve yet to play and AC3 is out soon.

    I need a week off to catch up! XD

    #1 2 years ago
  2. kadu

    > Battlefield 3 Aftermath is out initially for Xbox 360 premium subscribers from December 4th, and non-premium members December 18th.

    It is out in late Nov for PS3 BF premium users.

    #2 2 years ago

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    Caffeine creator Dylan Browne has announced the Unreal Engine 4 game will be released on Xbox One. The game will be published through Microsoft’s Indie Program. As previously announced, it is also coming to PC and and now PlayStation 4. Caffeine is a sci-fi horror game which stars a young boy who has been abandoned […]

  • Xbox 360 Preview program invites going out this month

    Much like the Xbox One Preview program, starting early this month, invites for the Xbox 360 Preview program will start rolling out. Select invitees will be able to join program directly from their Xbox 360. A special Xbox Live message will be sent, directing users to head over to their Settings page. Further instructions are […]

  • Tron: Legacy director in negotiations for Gran Turismo film

    Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski is said to be in early negotiations to direct the Gran Turismo film. This is according to the Hollywood Reporter, which states Michael De Luca is still slated as one of the producers alongside Matt Milam, Dana Brunetti, Josh Bratman, DeVon Franklin and Elizabeth Cantillon. Plot details are still unknown […]

  • Fifth add-on pack for Alien: Isolation is available for download

    The Trigger, which is is the fifth add-on pack for Alien: Isolation, is available to download from today. In it, players will “compete against the clock” across three new maps in Survivor Mode. Set before the events of the main game, players step into the shoes of Sevastopol Station’s Ricardo who will do what he […]

  • HBO Go app now available on PlayStation 4

    Sony has announced the HBO Go app will be made available for download later today for PlayStation 4. The app works just like the PS version. Now you can watch True Detective, Game of Thrones, Veep and more through your console. Information on installation is available through the PS Blog.

  • Skyrim mods no longer restricted to 100MB in size

    Bethesda has announced a beta for Creation Kit update 1.9.33, lifts the 100MB size restriction for Skyrim mod makers. The beta is for both Skyrim’s PC launcher and the Creation Kit which will allow for unlimited file sizes. Here are the notes: Creation Kit 1.9.33 Update Creation Kit now supports unlimited file sizes for mods […]

  • Mad Max release date set for September, PS3 and Xbox 360 versions canned

    Mad Max from Just Cause developer Avalanche Studios has been given a September release date, along with the new of a last-gen cancellation. The axing of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions were announced via Game Informer. Mad Max is the magazine’s featured game for the April issue. Avalanche, according GI, nixed development on […]

  • MGS 5: The Phantom Pain out in September, Kojima “closing the loop” on saga

    Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain will be released in September, according to an IGN Italy video, which also features Hideo Kojima discussing “With Metal Gear Solid 5, I’m finally “closing the loop” on the Metal Gear saga. The video has since been removed, but an image cap of the date is posted above. […]

  • Forza Horizon 2 Rockstar Energy Car Pack now available

    The Rockstar Energy Car Pack for Forza Horizon 2 for Xbox One is available now, alongside the free car for March. The free car is the Acura Integra Type-R, and the Rockstar pack included the following vehicles: 2014 Volkswagen Beetle GRC 2015 Subaru WRX STI 1996 BMW 850CSi 2015 Jaguar XFR-S 1970 Volkswagen #1107 Desert […]

  • 3DS firmware update kills web browser exploit

    Nintendo has issued a 3DS firmware update which fixes a web browser exploit that was being used to run pirated Game Boy Color ROMs since January as well as inject code within downloadable games. Another piece of code, per Eurogamer, changed the setting on the handheld to make it region-free. The exploit was only available […]

  • Unreal Tournament video shows updated textures on Outpost 23

    The latest footage from Epic’s new Unreal Tournament has surfaced, and it shows off the game’s first high-textured map which is called Outpost 23. As you can see from Zaccubus’ video, its the same are which Epic showed in the flythrough video from last year, only with updated textures and some new areas outside. The […]

  • Final add-on for Sunset Overdrive arrives in April

    The final add-on for Sunset Overdrive, Dawn of the Rise of the Fallen Machines, will be released in April. On April 1 to be exact. No, that’s not an April Fool’s joke from Insomniac Games either. Below, you can watch a fist-look at the new story, area, and traversal mechanic.

  • Heroes of the Storm playable at EGX Rezzed

    Heroes of the Storm will be playable at EGX Rezzed. This will be the first UK public hands-on with the online team brawler. Blizzard will also host giveaways and friendly tournaments at its stand. Tickets for all three days of Rezzed are still available, and you can purchase a pass through the official website. EGX […]

  • PES 2015 Data Pack 4 coming next week with Winter Transfers, new faces

    Data Pack 4 for Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 has been dated, and it updates the game with Winter Transfers, new player faces, and additional stadiums. The latest free update contains real-time player transfers made within the January window, and player ratings have also been updated. Additionally, a number of improved likenesses to key players will […]

  • Here’s the changelog for Dragon Age: Inquisition Patch 5

    Notes for upcoming Patch 5 for Dragon Age: Inquisition have been posted, noting improvements to gameplay and stability, and the new features outlined back in early February. Along with the new party storage system added to the Undercroft at Skyhold, players also have the ability to adjust the size of subtitles. Below you will find […]

  • Game of Thrones, Mortal Kombat X, Batman mobile games on the way

    Warner Bros. has announced free-to-play mobile titles spanning its DC Comics, Mortal Kombat and Game of Thrones properties. The following five new games under development are: Mortal Kombat X from NetherRealm Studios: The game blends fighting and card collection with cinematic gameplay and Fatalities. Play as both classic and fighters, and if you own the […]

  • Win! Beta access to new MMORPG Skyforge and DLC worth $70

    We have ten Wrath of the Gods Founders Packs to giveaway for new RPG Skyforge, worth over $70. All you need to do to win a Wrath of the Gods pack is enter your details in the form below and we’ll pick 10 winners at random on Thursday, March 5, after 3pm GMT. Skyforge is […]

  • PC gaming expected to be worth $35 billion by 2018

    PC gaming is alive and well. In fact, it’s expected to be worth $35 billion by 2018. According to game-business group Open Gaming Alliance, the PC gaming industry is expected to grow beyond its current $26 billion worth and to a massive $35 billion by the year 2018. The information is based on data collected […]

  • Advanced Warfare: new patch adds new weapon, Master Prestige ranks, more

    Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare has received a new patch that gives season pass holders early access to a new weapon and everyone else a myriad of fixes and additions. The patch went live today on Xbox 360 and Xbox One, without any official notes. CharlieIntel reports that among the new additions is the new […]

  • Destiny’s end game and raids explained

    Destiny’s end game can be a bit obtuse to those not used to MMO games. Fear not, we’ve got a few quick tips on how to crack it. Arekkz Gaming has a video for new players of Destiny or those who are looking to brush up on their knowledge of the game. Today’s theme is […]

  • Capcom adds local co-op to Resident Evil: Revelations 2 on PC

    Following fan outrage over lack of local co-op support for the PC version of Resident Evil: Revelations 2, Capcom has now added it. Resident Evil: Revelations 2 now officially supports split-screen local co-op in both campaign and raid mode. The update is currently in beta on Steam, but anyone can opt-in to try it. Capcom […]

  • New Destiny glitch spawns infinite Thralls on Earth

    Destiny’s latest glitch spawns infinite Thralls to help fuel your bounty hunting and loot lust. The glitch is simple to replicate. You’ll need to start The Dark Within mission on Earth, on any difficulty. Then follow the steps in the video below (Via DualShockers) to get to an area out of the map. You’ll then […]

  • Battlefield 4 Winter Patch is here with new game mode, netcode improvements and more

    DICE has released the Winter Patch for Battlefield 4. The patch brings an eSports focus with new game mode Squad Obliteration and plenty more. Battlefield 4 Winter Patch is now live on all platforms. It’s just over 400MB on PC and 1.34GB on consoles. The patch adds new game mode Squad Obliteration and more customisation […]

  • HTC hopes to see Half-Life on VR headset Vive

    Vive manufacturer HTC said that it hopes to see Valve games, including Half-Life, on the virtual reality headset. Speaking to the BBC, HTC chairwoman Cher Wang said that Valve is keen on having its games available on the VR headset. “I think Valve’s best game is Dota, right, and Portal and [Team Fortress] and I […]

  • Make money easily in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

    If you’re looking to buy a fell set of armour for your character in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate but keep falling short on Zenny, this video will show you an easy way to make lots of it. Arekkz Gaming has a very handy tip for all Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate players: how to make Zenny […]

  • This is how you claim free Xbox One games from your Xbox 360

    Microsoft is giving everyone the ability to claim their free Xbox One Games with Gold titles from their Xbox 360 console, even without owning an Xbox One. If you don’t yet own an Xbox One and want to make sure you don’t miss out on all those free Games with Gold games, you’ll be pleased […]

  • Destiny weekly reset for March 3: Heroic and Nightfall detailed

    Bungie has reset the weekly cap of Crucible and Vanguard marks and added new Heroic and Nightfall strikes, now with burn. From now until next Tuesday, the weekly Heroic strike will be The Devil’s Lair with Heroic and Lightswitch modifiers. As for the Nightfall, you’ll be fighting Sepiks Prime with the help of Arc burn. […]

  • Few Mass Effect FemShep cosplays are as elaborate as this one

    The internet is full of Female Commander Shepard cosplay from Mass Effect, but very few are as terrific as this one. Visual artist Freya Willia has spent over two years painstakingly creating the perfect suit of armour and the best weapons to make her cosplay of Female Shepard as authentic as possible, Omni tool and […]

  • Deals with Gold: Assassin’s Creed Unity, Red Dead Redemption and more discounted

    This week’s Deals with Gold titles for Xbox Live subscribers is a good mix of modern games and old favourites. The list of discounted games through this week’s Deals with Gold is live with discounts on Assassin’s Creed Unity, Amazing Spider-Man 2, Red Dead Redemption, Max Payne 3, and more. The deals are live now […]

  • Destiny guide: how to maximise your Grimoire Points

    Destiny players regularly compare the size of their Grimoire Points. Learn how to make yours the biggest. Destiny guide: how to earn Grimoire Points In Destiny, earning most Grimoire cards is just a matter of playing the game, maybe a little more attentively than usual. You’ll either need to complete a certain number of actions […]

  • Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows will let you play as a baddie

    Shovel Knight owners will benefit from the generosity of Kickstarter backers quite soon. Because Shovel Knight was overfunded during its Kickstarter campaign, developer Yacht Club Games committed to releasing free content updates. The first of these, Plague of Shadows, has now been detailed. The expansion stars baddy Plague Knight, who turns on his former allies, […]

  • GTA controversies, from Hot Coffee to PR manipulation

    GTA has a long history of controversy. The latest Did You Know Gaming tells the full stories behind the sensational headlines. Grand Theft Auto is such a byword for controversy that it’s easy to forget the full context of what actually happened to bring mainstream press, politicians and interest group awareness to the Rockstar series. […]

  • Infamous 2 one of five new PlayStation Now additions for March

    PlayStation Now will expand to the tune of five new games this month. The March PS Now additions are Infamous 2, Twisted Metal, R-Type Dimensions, Alone in the Dark: Inferno and Operation Flashpoint: Red River. PS Now will set you back $20 per month or $45 for a three month subscription. It offers all you […]

  • Final Fantasy 10/10-2 HD Remaster gets PS4 release date

    Final Fantasy 10/10-2 HD Remaster hits PS4 in May. The PS4 release date for Final Fantasy 10/10-2 HD Remaster is May 12 in North America and May 15 in Europe. Gematsu reports a special pre-order bonus calendar with art by Yoshitaka Amano is available through the Square Enix Store and participating retailers. In Europe, pre-ordering […]

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare getting 15 new Prestige levels

    Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare players can now aspire to the ranks of Grand Master Prestige. Advanced Warfare developer Sledgehammer Games will add 15 more Prestige levels to the latest Call of Duty, giving players at max XP a chance to grow even further. According to the Sledgehammer Games blog, when you enter Master level […]

  • Destiny: Crota’s End recreated in Minecraft

    Destiny’s toughest challenge gets even nastier if you throw Creepers into the mix. The ultimate Destiny challenge – for now – is the Crota’s End raid. Taking place in an alternate dimension accessed through the Hellmouth on the Moon, the Raid takes Guardians through a pit of darkness to the resting place of Crota himself. […]

  • Xenoblade Chronicles 3D trailer introduces the Heir to the Monado

    Xenoblade Chronicles 3D protagonist Shulk is the Heir to the Monado, his distinctive red sword. Let this trailer fill you in on what that means. Xenoblade Chronicles 3D releases for New 3DS on April 2 in Europe and April 10 in North America. As well as all the content of the Wii original, it has […]

  • The Elder Scrolls: Total War mod covers Morrowind, Oblivion and more

    The Elder Scrolls: Total War is a terrific mod allowing you get get intimately involved with the history of Bethesda’s detailed fantasy universe. The first release of The Elder Scrolls: Total War dropped on the weekend, giving players their first chance to try out LoRdNazgu1‘s creation. This version runs from 3E 427 to 4E 45, […]

  • Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 out now on Steam

    Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 is out now. Yes, we’re surprised too. You can grab Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 on Steam for $8. Developer Scott Cawthon really doesn’t mess about; the game was only announced in early January. Here’s the blurb: Thirty years after Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza closed it’s doors, the events that took […]

  • EVE Online heister makes off with $13,000 worth of goods

    EVE Online is a hotbed of villainy, espionage and backstabbing, but one intrepid corporate thief has made waves even in this setting. The thing about EVE Online is that it’s a true sandbox: the game’s rules are very loose, and allow players to make careers out of theft, piracy, assassination and espionage in addition to […]