We explore issues of accessibility, economy and the untapped potential of this sleeping FPS giant.
A few weeks before E3 we had the opportunity to get an exclusive look at Metro: Last Light’s grand relaunch via a new preview build and the much-publicised live-action trailer. The Metro franchise has gone from a minor series to a major opportunity for THQ to bounce back and 4A Games to continue their good name, with a survival shooter sequel which seeks to bring the Ukranian studio’s unique take on post-apocalyptia to a much bigger audience without compromising its ideals. We had a chat with head of studio communications Huw Beynon to ask how exactly Last Light will accomplish that and his answers were refreshingly forthright.
GamerZines: What sort of concessions have been made in Last Light’s design in order to make it perhaps more mass market than Metro: 2033?
Huw Beynon, head of global communications: For me, mass market is Angry Birds. Metro: Last Light is unashamedly going for a slightly more mature, sophisticated, cerebral gamer who wants a little bit more depth and substance to their gameplay experience, so it’s not about making concessions to the mass market. We are working to make the game a bit more accessible than the last one. One of the things with Metro 2033 is that we introduced a lot a original mechanics; your gasmask, lighter, filter system etc. and these tended to be explained by a tooltip which flashed across the screen (a wall of text explaining how this mechanic works). Then the game asked, ‘Have you got that?’ and you were like, “Yep?” – it’s quite hard to process all that information.We want to keep all of those complex devices because we think they really enrich the experience, but we’re looking at how we can introduce them to the player a little better; maybe through the narrative more, so it isn’t just a wall of text overload – you learn how to do it and once you’ve mastered it we move you onto the next thing, so you feel like you understand what to do.We aren’t dumbing this game down, we’re not going after the kind of person who just wants to blast through a level and shoot lots of people.
GamerZines: Live action trailers are almost a double-edged sword, as they prove that a publisher is willing to substantially back a game, but at the same time it’s also a blatant declaration that a publisher wants the featured game to be more of a mass market thing. In Metro Last Light’s case that means not just aiming for those that liked the first game, but everyone else as well. Is that the aim for Last Light, to get more gamers involved?
Huw Beynon: I think if THQ had put more of a marketing effort into the first game – they’ve put their hands up and admitted this – we would’ve probably reached a lot more people last time, but the first game is very much a sleeper hit. It [Metro 2033] was a hit and it’s been incredibly commercially successful for THQ, it’s sold more than a million units on PC alone. This one is obviously multiple platform and it has a lot more investment behind it. We’ve seen that some of these games focused on the core gamer, the quality is there, you can have a huge amount of success with them, so we think we can perform substantially better [with the sequel]. I’m just more interested that it’s a substantially better experience more than anything else.
GamerZines: We definitely got that impression from the gameplay demo. There are a few things that are easier on the eye, for example having a digital watch rather than an analogue one to gauge how much time you have left before your air filter gets corrupted.
Huw Beynon: Yeah and that’s an example of a lot more support from THQ in terms of usability that we do on the game, [offering up] more constructive feedback that we can send back to them from our perspective rather than the one they necessarily have in the studio. We think the game is going to be better without losing that depth and complexity, while being much more accessible.
GamerZines: Could Metro Last Light ever fill the hole that’s left now that the Stalker series is no more?
Huw Beynon: I think we’re a very different style of game. They went for this much more open-world experience, but tonally there are similarities. If anyone loved the atmosphere of the Stalker series, you’ll get a similar flavour [with Metro: Last Light] but again we take it in a very different direction.
Tags: Metro Last Light
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