Thief: Upgradable equipment, Focus and more detailed

Tuesday, 5 March 2013 23:27 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Eidos Montreal’s Thief re-introduces us to Garrett, as well as his hefty bag of tricks.

A next-gen Thief reboot was revealed by GameInformer’s latest cover today, and as usual, NeoGAF has managed to harvest details from the magazine’s coverage.

True to the franchise’s roots, the report notes that Thief protagonist Garrett can’t handle fights with groups of guards. Guards will actively search hiding places if alerted, and different kinds of enemies use different search methods.

The player is guided by navigation beacons, but are free to explore at will, so each area has multiple entrances and exits. Using an ability called Focus allows the player to spot interactive objects like climbable pipes and extinguishable light sources. The ability can be upgraded to increase its area of effect. Focus highlights attack points on enemies, and selecting the right one results in a shove which unbalances them, allowing the player a little longer to escape. Stringing attack points together buys even more time.

Focus can also slow time, allowing Garrett more chances to pickpocket. every drawer in the game can be opened and raided; fingerprints show which ones are most likely to hold loot. Money is spent to upgrade supplies and equipment at mission end. Garrett can also steal artefacts, which have no gameplay value but can decorate his den.

Garrett is equipped with a blackjack for knocking guards out; a bow which has many tactical uses; special arrows like dry-ice to snuff candles and smoke to provide cover; and a grappling hook which can only be used on certain objects.

Game director Nicolas Cantin designed Garrett’s new look; his scar indicates the effects of his past. Eidos Montreal is hoping to stay faithful to the franchise’s history and lore, and spent a long time working in the conceptual phase with a small team. During development, it tried a number of ideas like going third-person or introducing parkour. It has most of the gameplay mechanics in place now, but is still working on combat, trying to make it risky but enjoyable for players who want to pursue that path.

Story wise, Eidos Montreal is toning down the supernatural side of things. Garrett returns to the city after a long time away to find it ruled by a tyrannical Baron. Keeping the plebs in order via military might, the Baron ensures only the elite prosper, while a plague ravages the city. It sounds a bit like Dishonored so far, but notably our hero isn’t out to get revenge or save the day, though; he sees the political climate as a chance to get rich.

The game begins with Garrett finding his way to the Stonemarket district by hiding in the back of a covered wagon, and overhears a conversation about Theodore Eastwick, the city’s foremost architect and a very wealthy man. The gossiping guards say Eastwick is off to an elite brothel called the House of Blossoms.

In the gameplay demo GameInformer saw, the player made Garrett crouch behind crates, which triggers a darkening of the screen to indicate successful stealth. The player threw a bottle to distract the guards, then climbed a pipe to a roof; he traversed rooftops, ran over merchant stalls, slinked under wagon and jumped through a window on his journey to follow Eastwick into the House of Blossoms.

Inside the brothel, Garrett loses sight of Eastwick among the crowds, but overhears a character minding the entrance say that security is tight and valuables must be left in the office strongbox. Garrett can then find out where Eastwick is headed by checking the office logbook, but stops to rob the strongbox. The lock must be picked via a mini-game, but Garrett is interrupted.

Rolling into a dark corner, the player escaped detection, and took the contents of the safe. Unable to leave via the door, the player found a hidden passageway, and escaped into the House of Blossoms to track down Eastwick. After stealing an amulet from the architect, Garrett entered “Focus”, allowing the player to see that Eastwick is examining a wall with a symbol matching the amulet. This triggers a puzzle sequence across four rooms, which when solved, activates the medallion somehow – but soon after, Eastwick notices the amulet is gone and a search is ordered.

Sneaking through back passages, Garrett overhears staff talking about an incident involving opium in the ventilation system. Using this idea, he puts everyone in the building to sleep, and escapes by holding his breath and sprinting through. Confronted by guards outside, the players used a bow to make a statue fall, crushing two guards. When grabbed by a surviving enemy, the player used Focus to slow time, then fought the guard, grappled to a nearby vent, and escaped into the sewers.

As noted previously, NeoGAF also dug up a handful of screenshots which are likely to remain GameInformer exclusives for some time.

Thief is due on PC, PlayStation 4 and another platform which will almost certainly turn out to be Microsoft’s next console in 2014.

Thanks, Gematsu.