Earlier this month I made my first trip to Amsterdam and while I didn’t get chance to visit the Van Gogh Museum, I did get a different sensory treat: I got to play Killzone 3 in 3D.
The select group of journalists invited had little idea of what to expect as they climbed the stairs to a private cinema in Amsterdam’s Melkweg, but soon Hermen Hulst, Managing Director of Guerrilla Games, took to the podium and revealed all.
Killzone 3 picks up where its predecessor left off and it’s a much grander experience in terms of scale and ambition. There will be more variety, more enemy types, massive environments and a broader vision of the planet Helghan and its many terrains. The presentation closed with a beautifully violent video montage of the Brutal Melee attacks, which are the new close range attacks.
I caught up with Hermen after his presentation to ask how community feedback has shaped Killzone 3.
“As you may know, we are always in close contact with the Killzone community,” he said. “The response to Killzone 2 has been fantastic but there is a general response that it had too many ‘corridors’. We have to temper that with the knowledge that many players really enjoy that gameplay style. Our plan is to solve this dilemma with huge variation in gameplay styles.
We had plenty of variety in Killzone 2 but much of it was introduced in the second half of the game. This time around, right from the start every new level has its own distinct feel.”
The level playable at the show was set in an arctic environment and introduced a number of new gameplay elements. One of the most eye-catching is the new jet packs: first you must fight off three Jetpack Troopers, who are quick and heavily armed. Once you defeat them, you discover a spare jetpack that you can strap yourself into. It works like an exaggerated jump, allowing you to soar high into the air and use the forward thrust twice before having to land, and opens up the possibilities for platforming and aerial combat.
“If you remember, the Jetpack Troopers were in Killzone Liberation on PSP and we’ve always wanted to bring them back,” explained Hermen. “When you include aerial combat you obviously need plenty of space so the much bigger levels in Killzone 3 have presented us with the opportunity to include this enemy.”
The story is an important part of the Killzone experience so I asked him to set the scene. Warning: there’s a Killzone 2 spoiler in his response.
“We recognise how important the story is in Killzone games,” he replied, “and we’re making great leaps forward with character development and the quality of the dialogue and the writing. We’re going all-out to make Killzone 3 a rounded experience on all fronts.
So with Visari gone, there’s a power vacuum on Helghan where figures like Stahl, the head of the Helghan weapon producer, are vying for power. Essentially, the surviving ISA soldiers are caught in the middle of a catfight when what they really need is to get the hell off the planet and return to Vekta.
On the ground, this political situation changes the nature of the conflict. The Helghan are now in the ascendency and they are bringing a great deal of new technology to the fray. The result for the player is that you’ll be encountering new weapons and enemy types with their own distinct behaviour.”
Finally, I was told beforehand that we wouldn’t be mentioning multiplayer at this particular event but I knew you wouldn’t forgive me if I didn’t at least broach it, so I asked how much of the team’s energy is going into this component.
“We always refer to multiplayer as ‘the other half of the game’,” he said, “meaning that it’s just as important to us as single player. It’s an area on which we have key individuals working and I can promise true innovation. Right now we’re looking through all of the feedback we received on Killzone 2, particularly around accessibility.”
I came away with so many thoughts and impressions from the event that I feel like I could write a short novel. Head to over to eu.playstation.com to read an impressions piece that I wrote, which goes into more detail on the incredible stereoscopic 3D. Feel free to ask questions in the comments; I have more info and quotes from Hermen that I can drop in there where relevant.