Infamous: Second Son is the first major exclusive of 2014 for Sony's PlayStation 4. The next gen console is proving a success already, having shifted over six million units since its launch last year, meaning expectations are high.
Sucker Punch are no strangers to Sony, they've been making exclusives for them for over a decade. Second Son is the third game in the Infamous series, which follows the emergence of super-powered humans called Conduits.
The games are built around a morality system that allows players to choose whether to be good or bad, depending on the choices they make.
IBTimes UK spoke to Sucker Punch's Brand Development Director Ken Schramm about how they've evolved that, and the game in general.
Where does the story pick up in Infamous: Second Son?
"The story picks up about seven years after the events of Infamous 2. A lot has happened in those seven years, the DUP [Department of Unified Protection] has been set up to take down the remaining Conduits and then they set up shop in Seattle, where the game takes place."
This could be seen as a reboot for the series, what do you hope to achieve by starting from a relatively fresh slate?
"The slate was cleaned for us really. When Nate wrote the good and bad endings [for Infamous 2] he actually wrote the evil ending as canon, to be the continuation of the series, because its good set up for the world and all that stuff.
"However trophy data [which shows which ending picked most by players] overwhelmingly said to sacrifice Cole so I don't know whether the people playing Infamous 2 realised they were setting the course for the franchise, but they did, so we switched.
"To go back to your question, having a new hero, new powers, new story, new setting, yeah it's not just a reboot it's an entirely new game."
What most excited you about the new technology at your disposal?
"Most important for us was the controller. You've played it, you know how accurate it is but what people underestimate is the speaker and how much we can use that to make you feel more immersed. You've seen examples of how the touch pad and lightbar are used and I'm sure the share button will be used for sure.
"If you look at the evolution of our franchise, with Infamous 1 we had the 2D cutscenes to tell the story and in Infamous 2 we had some 3D in there with our 2D cutscenes. In Second Son, 2D cutscenes will tell the backstories of the remaining Conduits you're going to meet, but most of the story-telling is done in mo-cap 3D, and you've seen the facial animation too."
Second Son is one of the first open world games available on next gen systems, what did you do to ensure it felt like a true leap from open world games on the old systems?
"Well we let PS4 do the talking really. That's how we do it. We just develop the code and make the game come through, but we've got to have the system and the power to be able to pull off what we do. All those points I just mentioned, how could we have done that on the PS3? I don't think we could."
Designing a virtual city always strikes me as an incredibly difficult thing. Just how tough is it, and just how much inspiration did Sucker Punch draw from its hometown of Seattle?
"First and foremost it's a 3D jungle gym for Delsin to be running around in. It has to be fun, we had to get the buildings and distances just right. You're not going to take a tour through Seattle in our game. However with that said we've got the Space Needle in there for sure, that was the most iconic building, and we also went to local businesses so you'll see the Pink Elephant Car Wash, the Lincoln Toe-Truck, Crocodile Café where there's a big grunge band following, and Sonic Boom which is the grunge label.
"It's those local iconic businesses that are part of Seattle. So in the game if you go to where the Space Needle is and you walk around then you visited Seattle and walked around the same area, you'd go 'Holy s**t, I visited that in the game'. So there are components where it's pretty close."
The moral system is very important to the Infamous series, how have you evolved it for Second Son?
"The choices you make in the game, what it effects first and foremost is the play style. As you play our games we've always had you choose which way you want to go, whether you want to be classified as a hero, villain, whatever. When you go that direction in Second Son you are going to get truly different play styles and experiences. We always try to preach playing our games twice, but in Second Son if you don't you are going to miss out on a lot of content on the other side."
- From a creative standpoint how does Delsin Rowe differ from Cole MacGrath?
It comes from watching a lot of people play, and when they'd play for 15, 20 minutes they were just breaking this, breaking that, killing this, killing that, but at the same time saving people. They're total anarchists but having fun, so we wanted a new direction.
So where Cole was gruffer and thought his powers were more a curse than a blessing, we made Delsin revel in his powers. We've been saying 'Enjoy your powers' a lot because he really is enjoying having them as he goes through his adventure. We really wanted Delsin to mirror the player's attitudes.
- You have motion and facial capture in the game and Troy Baker – who's an expert in the two techniques coming off The Last of Us and Bioshock Infinite – that's a pretty perfect situation to be in. How was it working with Troy?
He's here today, that tells you a lot. That's an example of who Troy Baker is. He's willing to go and help the game become successful because he's invested in it too, because in Delsin, with that new facial capture, there's a lot of him in there.
We think Troy did a fantastic job, but here's something you might not know. Delsin's older brother – it's called Second Son for reason, he's trying to live up to his older brother Reggie – is played by Travis Willingham and we'd already cast Travis. So when Troy came in and read for Delsin, we didn't know this at the time but they're best mates, he was the best man at Travis' wedding! So you can see the dynamic in their relationship and when they were acting they'd go off script. It was great! Because of the chemistry they have as best friends.
We can go one level deeper actually. Travis, who plays Reggie, and then there's Laura Bailey who plays Fetch... guess who's married to each other? Those two! So you see their relationship on screen.
Infamous: Second Son is out 21 March on PlayStation 4.
Infamous: Second Son will be released on 21 March