With the launch of Brothers in Arms Hell’s Highway creeping over the horizon for the end of September, Gearbox’s Randy Pitchford has come out to say a few words on what players can look forward to and what will separate Hell’s Highway from the rest of the pack when WWII shooters in general seem to be on their way out of fashion.
What made Brothers in Arms the Pepsi to Call of Duty’s Coca-Cola was the emphasis on squad based, tactical shooting; rather than one guy trekking about with the future of the free world sitting on his shoulders. Pitchford is clear to point out that Hell’s Highway will retain the tactical, squad dynamic whilst making sure the interface is as easy going on the player as possible.
“The goal from the beginning was accessibility – about making the interface work for gamers intuitively,” he said. “We have established a system with the two previous games and expanded it in very interesting ways for players who are looking for new depth. We can do that without forcing any complexity on users who may actually prefer if things were more simple to use.”
In any squad based game, the gameplay is only as good as the AI driving your teammates. Pitchford is keen to emphasize that Gearbox recognizes this and has invested serious time into developing the game’s AI, pressing the point that not only do NPC’s have to have a good awareness of what is going on, but they must have interesting things to do with that. He said “It’s become amazingly natural, but super sophisticated over the years. The more sophisticated the AI gets, the more simple and natural (human) it appears in the game.”
Pitchford admits that at certain points the game’s protagonist, Sgt. Baker, is separated from his squad and forced to go it alone. However, he goes on to say that it in fact enhances the time you have with your squad. “It reminds you how much better it is to play a first person action game with a squad that you have control over – it really makes us feel how shallow a lot of our shooting gallery experiences are with traditional first person shooters.”
Brothers In Arms Hell’s Highway launches in the US on the 23rd of September, coming to Australia and Europe on the 25th and 26th, respectively.