“We prefer to think of them as fellow cast members, as opposed to ‘squad members,’” explains Raphael van Lierop, the creative director at 3D Realms, as he discusses the game’s “three man, two lady” survival outfit. “This might seem like arguing semantics, but to us it’s the difference between having faceless, cannon-fodder allies and actual living, breathing characters who play an important role in the larger storyline and who the player actually cares about. We’re pioneering a new style of game which moves away from the 'lone hero'-type scenario and instead thrusts the player into a situation where they can experience real drama. Real drama emerges from an interaction between believable characters with compelling stories of their own, within a charged setting and narrative context. So, no more cookie-cutter NPCs[...] running around a paper-thin plot.”
Each character (who yourfriends will be able to control in co-op, incidentally) will come with his or her own backstory, moral beliefs, secrets and personality. And the level to which you’ll be able to converse with them, almost rivaling the sort of conversations you’d expect in a BioWare game, is frighteningly deep for an action-shooter. “Ultimately, they’re just normal people,” says Syvähuoko. “They’re not superheroes. They’re just normal people who are trying to make the best of a very bad situation, trying to survive, trying to reconcile with their families, trying to overcome tragedy and personal loss, trying to make sense of it all. And sometimes those ordinary people will be required to do extraordinary things to survive, and they will be changed by it. Hopefully, our players will be changed by it as well.”
A lofty goal.We'veheard this "loveable virtual friends" claim many times before- but rein in the knee-jerk reaction a little and you realize that the Recoil and 3D Realms boys are talking sense. The initial template they’re using is that of the sci-fi disaster movie- stuff like The Thing or Alien. Ultimately, what makes these films great isn’t a chest-busting scene or a bit where a human body cavity bites off a man’s arms before its head grows legs and runs away (though that certainly helps). Rather, it’s the tension and realism provided by an unsettled cohesion of flawed characters, and the way in which you relate to them.