“And that’s a great bit of emergent gameplay,” adds Stern, “because it can be a lone wolfish sort of class. It’s great to get a mission that will benefit your team, you can be the counter-espionage guy hunting down other Operatives.”
“Yeah, this is a team-based game,” continues Ham, “and to my mind in team games it’s really only ever the Medic who has the sort of tools to support other players. In this game, as you’ve noticed, every class has a reason to reach out and touch another player, even at level one. Soldiers can dole out ammo, Engineers are able to buff their teammates’ weapons. The Operative is the odd one out, he doesn’t have the means to reach out and touch a teammate, instead he reaches out and touches the enemy.”
Use the objective wheel to select a mission to hunt down an enemy Operative, and the sneak is warned of your intentions with a curt “They’re on to you,” from his commander. He’ll be aware that you’re on your way to his location, and will adjust his play style accordingly. Downed players waiting for a revive syringe from a Medic will also have to consider nearby Operatives - if they dawdle for too long they risk an interrogation, thereby compromising the locations of everybody else on the team.
“Just because you’re down does not necessarily mean that you’re out,” claims Ham, hinting at some unlockable abilities for use once you’re incapacitated. “It doesn’t mean that you’ve stopped playing the game and there’s nothing for you to do – particularly if there’s a sneaky Operative coming to interrogate you...”
Can we expect a surprise, post-death grenade blast, a la Modern Warfare’s martyrdom perk? Perhaps. “Some of the abilities haven’t made the cut because they’re overpowered or aren’t fun,” says Ham. “But we hope to have as much gameplay in our death mechanics as most games do in their life mechanics.”
In Shipyard, we’ve reached the missile controls by flouncing past the enemy defences while disguised as one of their own. There’s a distinct feeling that, with a year to go, the AI hasn’t yet learned to root out disguised enemy Operatives in their midst. Not even the ones who are cheerfully hacking control panels in an attempt to activate the missile’s self-destruct sequence. It took an accidental shotgun blast to a tattooed enemy face before they registered that we were not friendly.
The hacking works remotely. The closer you are to the console-to-be-hacked, the quicker the job gets done. Conversely, the further away you are, the better chance you have of surviving the torrent of players turning up to see what all the hacking is about.
Your hacking tool, alarmingly, emits a beeping sound to proudly convey what an excellent job of hacking it’s doing: a sound that, unsurprisingly, can attract unwanted attention. Ducking into a nearby container was a sufficient tactic in our case, with no fewer than two Resistance members strutting past while we sabotaged their missile launch.