Following the game's E3 showing, fans of the Thief series expressed concern over the appearance of an experience system that awarded points for performing feats such as headshots in the upcoming Thief 4. Worry no longer however, as a recent developer Q&A with Eidos Montreal Game Director Nic Cantin and Lead Level Designer Daniel Windfeld Schmidt confirms that XP has been removed entirely, with upgrade progression now being entirely dependent on the loot that Garrett can fill his thieving little pockets with.
Why was it removed?
Nic: At first, we wanted to outline the progression of the player with XP, but it was reducing our motivation to steal. The main goal of a thief should be to gain loot. Garrett is already the Master Thief, so we saw no need to have XP as a core mechanic.
Daniel: We wanted to put emphasis on stealing things, and put the rewards on the stealing aspect. We want to allow the player to decide the "how to" – we shouldn't judge how the player wants to achieve their goal, only reward them for achieving it.
The reaction from fans to the "Headshot XP" pop-up in the E3 gameplay demo was fairly negative. Did that have an impact on the decision to remove it from the game?
Daniel: Fans might be surprised how often the devs go to the forum to see how things are perceived in the "real world". This feedback is extremely valuable to us, so as you can imagine, the consistent reaction to the XP system was something that indicated we needed to revisit some design decisions.
Nic: It is more a design decision to add to our economy system and entice the player to steal more. But yes, the E3 reaction was right, rewarding killing like that was wrong for a Master Thief.
Read the full Q&A
for a bit more juice, and a hint that the developers might have also made some change to the game's use of oft-maligned quick time events (QTEs), expected to be shared in their next write-up.
Thief is due on February 26th, 2014 for PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.