So, essentially we’re thinking of a shooter donning the karmic mantle of an RPG - something at once obvious, yet simultaneously far, far away from what we have in the current crop of shooters. Imagine a Half-Life 2 in which Alyx grew to resent you repeatedly staring at her ass and eventually became miffed at your insistence on piling street furniture on dead bodies. Or one in which she reacts with horror as you decide you don’t want to rescue City 17 survivors after all, and would rather keep yourself safe. Deus Ex trod on the toes of this concept, with Alex Jacobson’s expression of horror as you (for example) chose to gas an underground system where civilians were being held hostage, but beyond this, true NPC approval or suspicion has never really entered into action games. In shooters, by and large, only bad guys diss the hero.
As for the action itself, well, that’s one thing that 3D Realms and Recoil aren’t keen to spill the beans on - but it would seem that affairs will be a lot more like a collaborative Half-Life 2 effort rather than a tactically skewed Rainbow Six-type affair. Just as character personalities are being built to bounce off each other, the game is set to feel like a joint effort, with each weapon being designed with collaborative use in mind - and one weapon called the Linker that 3D Realms' boss describes as being “a reverse proton pack from Ghostbusters.”
In addition to all of this, expect some issues with a military having enormous problems with crowd control, long alien (yet not extraterrestrial) spines jamming themselves into the sides of modern America and all the visual jazz that Unreal Engine 3 can muster for a game that’s two years off on the horizon. Yes, it is a long, long way from completion - but talking to a group of developers who are clearly not content to merely sit inside a genre and trot out the same old shooter routine with bigger and better explosions is genuinely refreshing. It’ll be in hibernation for quite a while after you read this, but do keep an eye out for Earth No More - it really could be quite special.