As part of E3 2019 we had the chance to go hands on with DOOM Eternal and witness the evolution of the id Software's re-imagining of the iconic series.
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Out at a pre-E3 press event, we went hands-on with the newly revealed Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Breakpoint. Read on for our full impressions...
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All the trailers and announcements from the Nintendo Direct E3 2019 briefing.
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Interview: Tom Clancy's The Division 2's Game Director, David Kennedy, Tells All
Post by Steve Farrelly @ 03:45pm 15/02/19 | Comments
We spoke with The Division 2 game director David Kennedy on all things good and divisive in The Division 2. read on for what he had to say...

AusGamers: Hi David, sorry I was a bit late, my son went to back to school today and I had to deal with that first.

David Kennedy - Game Director: That’s okay.

AusGamers: And the reason I say that, I think, for me being late and missing the presentation, sitting back down I remembered how to play pretty quickly. Was it important from the outset to make sure you didn't lose any of the DNA from the first game and then, conversely, what did you find that you actually had to change on a more fundamental level?

David: Okay, yeah, it's, okay the first part is, was it important to keep it similar, right? Definitely. That is because we've heard really passionate things and it shows in our post launch and the live community and we had really engaged fans and we tried our best to adapt to [that feedback] so for sure we wanted to maintain what we had there. We don't want to alienate those guys 'cause they're our life blood there.

On the second part, I feel like maybe having played the first game, maybe you noticed it but we improved some of [what we call] the three Cs: the camera, the control and the combat. And you see some of the gunplay feels a lot better; much improved -- even audio is improved on the guns I think. Animations are a little snappier, so you see on the tabling, those kind of things you see are much quicker, so mostly just an improvement based on a lot of the feedback that we've had from our community, that's the main improvement I'd say.

AusGamers: And what about just the A to B to C content? I mean, what I played there sort of feels like, yeah, it feels really similar because do I have to go to Downtown, which is obviously what the majority of first The Division was. How much have you changed the outskirts and really broken up that corridor or that alleyway-style level design?

David: Yeah, so hopefully you saw some of it already but Washington D.C. gives us a much bigger and more varied playground so we have a lot of biomes, a lot of environments that are different, than New York and Manhattan would be. So there's a lot more open spaces, there's a lot of residential, commercial, government, monument type areas so there's a lot of variety in the world first of all just naturally. And then the setting being in summer time makes it feel a lot different too. I think the colours and the overall feel would be different.

And then, some of what you were playing today was what we call a living world system and that has, each faction has their own needs and their own goals and they're moving to the city and it's being simulated outside of the area the players will, where factions will move between locations to the control points and their influence is constantly changing throughout the city. So you'll see a group of friendly NPCs walking to gather resources, maybe patrolling or guarding a location, and you'll see the enemies come, you'll see combat happen without you or with you. You're able to engage in that as you want to so maybe you don't remember it so much in the first game but it's a little more static a little more right in the middle of the crisis people are wandering, searching and now we have people moving with purpose and doing more activities.

AusGamers: Okay. It's not random? Or, it is random and can you impact it as a player, like can you impact that system?

David: It's random in the sense that it's simulated, like it's an activity that's simulated so these guys will leave their settlement, go to gather resources, and come back. Whether they hit someone on the way is up to the system. But you can impact it, and we call out those activities that you play like the control point or the propaganda broadcast kind of thing. Those are specific activities to get called out and then you can impact them, you can change how much a certain faction has influence in an area, just by interacting with those activities. And then on the other side, we want to make sure that you see those activities and you're rewarded for engaging in it. 'Cause, at the end our game is about progression and about the loot and the stuff you get so if I choose to engage in the living world system, then I get rewarded for doing it.

AusGamers: So, progression is obviously a really key factor with a game like this, but permanence is also one of the hardest things to do with a game like this. So, is there a sense of a narrative progression that you'll feel playing either solo or with a group and does the world reflect that progression at all?

David: Okay, I understand what you mean. Yes, absolutely it does, and to a bigger extent than the first game because of this living world system you'll see when I take a control point I kind of set an anchor down and that lets the friendly factions and civilians come in and control that area. So you'll see the world become more occupied by the friendlies over time. And, let's see, your other part of the question was on the narrative side?

AusGamers: Yeah.

David: So that's supported in the base of operations and in the settlements where as I do those things in the world I help improve what's happening in the settlements so you'll see those incrementally improve as well. And that's something maybe you missed in the presentations that your actions in the world and in the settlements improve those settlements. You'll see a physical change, you'll see more people coming in, you'll see an attitude change.

AusGamers: And part of the living world system you've got to showcase an ecology that isn't maybe just the humans, like I saw some deer running around, stuff like that. Can you talk to me about how you kind of built the world on a more living, on a more alive scale?

David: Yeah, and that's something we did in Annecey with the wild life as well. So, we tried to take D.C. in particular, we also did on New York we had this hinge we had the rats and the dogs and everything in New York. In D.C. we looked at what the natural wildlife would be and there are tonnes of deer in the D.C. area. I don't know if you saw, there are raccoons and foxes and things in the world in our game. And what we've done is try and model it after what would be realistic. In the parks areas you might see more, residential you'll see certain types, so each area has its own biome that affects which wildlife spawns in that area.

AusGamers: One of the other things that I really loved about the first game was, I saw what it required a little bit 'cause I tend to play the game single-player anyway but just kind of going on these exploration missions where you're not even technically looking for a mission or anything like that, you find a ladder and you group into someone’s apartment and you kind of get a little bit of history about someone that lived there and also a little bit about what actually happened immediately after the outbreak. Has that been expanded this time around or is it sort of, are you following suit?

David: So that's another thing that I also love because you get a lot of the narrative side, information, it rounds out the narrative better I guess like, gathering that. And I'd say we're definitely supporting it with the same types of collectibles that you find, the cellphones, the echoes that you can see. I'd say we are really trying to push as much content for all different types of players cause there are some players that didn't engage with that content and there are other players like us that did more, so I think we are trying to rewards all types so definitely you have that same, I can find little nooks and crannies or little areas that'll have those same Easter egg-y narrative content, for sure.

AusGamers: Did you guys take any learnings from Steep and help bring those into the development with this as well?

David: That's a super good question, 'cause [at] Annecey we've done Steep as well. I can't really comment a lot about what they're doing because I'm not on that team necessarily but we have the same attitude in terms of supporting our game post launch and trying to interact with our community. We do a lot of stuff with our elite task force type players, with our community development managers, getting feedback, getting people to play the game early in our pre-launch phases, before we release a new content prop then we really focus on what the community is asking for and try and conserve that as best we can. So I'd say, that we have in common, and that's the philosophy that our teams had over the course of the first game and in the second game as well.

AusGamers: That's a really good leading point there because often with these types of games the community ends up attempting to shape how they want the game played and often that's, maybe not at odds but might be a left turn to what the developers had in mind. And, this time around with the learnings from the first game, is there a directive internally to leave some black spaces to let the community create their own version of what they think the world should be and therefore maybe building towards that and supporting that?

David: Sure, when we released the first game it was a lot about getting out of that comfort zone of developing Triple-A that Ubisoft has been in for so long and really learning how to support live, and work with the community so as we developed The Division 2 a lot of what we started with was fed by that. You know, like, endgame first and really focusing on having content for players when they get to the end of the game.

And we built in on the chanter a little bit, part of what you were saying is we built in a lot of flexibility in the way that characters are built, the way that I create my build so that I can pivot to my place battle. So think we have that space to be flexible if the community has questions or has demands or has asks that they put on it and for sure we value that input. It's part of the way we are developing games now especially in the first game and on this one we really want to show that we care about the community. And I think Ubisoft does a good job at that, they care about us as developers, they care about us for sure, and then they care about the relationship that we have with our community and I think it shows in the way we try and react in each game.

AusGamers: Philosophically, as a developer, one of the really great things that I sort of discovered last year with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was this really long roadmap in supporting the game for a really long time afterwards 'cause you know there's a giant world with tonnes of stuff to do that you can continue to feed back. Is that where you see games might be heading, like not just these types of games but also single-player games and large world games because it sort of seems like almost seasonal content seems to be the way forward.

David: For sure, it's part of a little of what we talked about this morning and then as we go this afternoon into the endgame, I'll talk a little bit more about our post launch strategy, or our post launch plans I should say. And for sure, it's our philosophy 'cause we want to keep players engaged, we want them to enjoy the world that we built and it's such a massive game that we've created that we really wanna keep providing content for them and ways to engage them and be reactive to what they say, for sure.

AusGamers: Okay, awesome. Thanks man, really appreciate it.

David: Yeah, My pleasure.

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