Interview: Jacen Torres on Company Of Heroes 2
|INTERVIEWS - VIDEOGAMES|
Company of Heroes 2 Lead Campaign Designer Jacen Torres talks WWII...
Jacen Torres, Lead Campaign Designer of the hotly anticipated Company of Heroes 2, sat down with Shadowlocked's own Danny Palmer for some straight talk about the upcoming game ...
Its six years since Relic released Company of Heroes. What are the reasons for bringing the series back now?
Why now? I think it’s because we felt internally that we had the technology and the direction that felt right. That’s an unspecific thing – it’s not like there are check-boxes or anything – it just kind of came about into do we have what we feel is a great story we’re going to tell? Do we have the features we think are going to expand on this very beloved game, Company of Heroes? And at a certain point it got to ‘Yeah, this feels right.’
Company of Heroes 2 takes the fight to the Eastern Front. What are reasons behind this? Is it a want to do something different with an area of World War II that hasn’t been explored much in games?
One of the bigger impetuses is it is a story lesser told, especially to Western audiences. So it gives us a great point to build new experiences around and that drives everything from the general narrative to the specific campaign stories of the soldiers on the battlefield, to even things like mechanics and things that feel different in the first game and are expansions on a lot of the mechanics of the first game. For instance, snow, that’s something Company of Heroes didn’t have. That was a big part of the Eastern Front, weather in general, so having snow in the game and not just being a visual thing but also a gameplay element; troops move slower through the snow, they’re going to prefer roads to be faster, but that also creates a tactical element – you’re probably likely to want to lay traps on roads more because soldiers are more likely to take them, it starts to add new options. And that changes the impetus about any decision.
Watching the Company of Heroes 2 presentation I was certainly taken back to my school history classes. How much research have you put into this? How have you made it so accurate?
Well, we do a tonne of research at Relic. We had a core group of guys go to actual Eastern Europe, to Leningrad, to some of the battlefields like Sinyavino Heights, and Germany to Berlin so it’s incredibly important. Now, there’s always a difference between authenticity and realism, and we try to get realistic where we can, especially in things like visuals. But obviously gameplay is not going to completely mirror the realism or war, necessarily, but in that particular case we tried to make it authentic and we try and get the tone and a feel and the look or what is the Eastern Front, how does it feel to be fighting in these small Russian villages, and that’s a big part of it.
And the troops and tech are all different as well.
Yeah, we have one completely new army that we’ve never touched before with the Soviet Red Army, which everything from the top level ideology down to how their ground troops work is completely different. So we have all new things which we’re going to be sharing more of when we start talking about multiplayer, and that’s going to be everything from the campaign, the story, the experiences, how these troops worked together, all the way to the specific abilities and mechanics that they have.
During the presentation we saw Order 227 in action. Is that something that’s actually going to happen in the game? Can you theoretically fire on your own troops? Or is it for cutscenes when things go wrong?
We’re definitely going to incorporate it as best we can. In the campaign it’ll be a bigger part of the fiction and the tone and it starts to change things like how you think about a loss condition, or how you think about what victory really means, especially in the context of Company of Heroes 1, where unit preservation was such a major gameplay element. In multiplayer we see it doesn’t make sense to launch into a cinematic in the middle of the match, but we are exploring mechanics to take advantage of the feel and the authenticity of Order 227 in multiplayer.
Speaking of the feel, tell us about the Company of Heroes 2 campaign and how it’s told through the eyes of a war correspondent.
That element came about because one, we came across it and it actually happened because there was a war correspondent that got to go behind the lines of the Red Army and be at different fronts of the war in different armies. And second, out of necessity. We’re dealing with five years of conflict, 1941 to 1945, and it’s not like the battle of Normandy where you’re following these same companies and troops as they march towards Operation Market Garden and beyond which was a four month period. This is five years of war, completely different armies, over a much bigger span of land. It was almost necessary - what type of narrative can we use that will allow us to be in different places?
Thanks for your time.
Company of Heroes 2 from Relic and THQ is scheduled for release during early 2013.
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