Capcom revealed Lost Planet 3 to a group of journalists from around the world during last week’s Captivate event held in Rome. The announcement was made at the reception dinner on the Monday night, where we were shown the debut trailer, while we were given a glimpse into gameplay the next day during a presentation with Capcom’s Andrew Szymanski and Kenji Oguro.
Later that day El33tonline got the chance to sit down and discuss the game with the development team, giving us further insight into what the vision for Lost Planet 3 is and what we can expect when the game launches on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC in early 2013.
First up we wanted to find out a bit more about Jim, the new protagonist for the game. According to Szymanski, Jim is a working class type of guy, although he isn’t an educated man he is smart and funny. He’s come from Earth, leaving behind a wife and a newly born son to take advantage of the opportunity on EDN III. Much like the gold rush in America, where there are valuable resources man will go, and Jim seizes the chance to earn money even though it’s a dangerous job. Jim is the kind of guy who will work together with the people around him, but will not hesitate to take up arms if necessary.
We had noticed the witty banter between Jim and Gale early on in the gameplay demo and wanted to know a bit more about this relationship. Szymanski explained that Gale is something of an amateur comedian and that Jim puts up with him, but that it’s a great relationship and there’s definitely an element of co-operation between these two characters.
Next we asked for a bit more information about the reasons behind going back to the snowy conditions. Szymanski began by reminding us that extreme conditions were the hallmark of the Lost Planet franchise, and so the decision was made to go back in time and show the intense side of the planet. The development team was very focused on making the planet seem alien, a cold and frozen environment that could not be Earth. They wanted to make structures that could not be found on Earth, nothing that could be confused with an icy region on Earth, say Antarctica for example. Although the frozen planet is the core focus, there is also a variation of different areas in the game, such as man-made structures, for example the hangar and colonist base which we glimpsed in the gameplay demo. At one stage we can even look forward to exploring an Akrid nest, which gave the design team the chance to try out an organic type of art.
Jim’s rig is an essential part of the game, not only will it be necessary for him to use it to explore different areas of the planet, but he will also need to use it to defeat enemies along the way. According to Szymanski the rig will be upgradeable and will be able to perform multiple functions. He pointed out that the rig was not completely destructible, rather that it enters an auto shutdown mode when it takes too much damage, ejecting Jim from the rig and that it self-repairs over time. We had seen this in action in the gameplay demo, with Jim having to fight the Akrid outside the rig while it repaired. Although there will be different upgrades, Capcom didn’t want to give too much away at this stage but did say that the upgrades could be used as weapons if players improvised, for example the way in which Jim had used the claw and drill to open up new areas and then to fight the Akrids.
There was a very creepy atmosphere when Jim planted the thermal post and discovered the remnants of previous occupation with the old base. We were wondering what had inspired this, and the team explained that they were fans of sci-fi movies and films and had taken references from all over. They wanted to create a dark, claustrophobic and oppressive atmosphere, something that almost felt like the first Aliens movie, and contrast this with the open, sweeping vistas of the outside planet.
The weather will obviously play a role in the game, with storms cutting off access routes and making you change your path to overcome the obstacles in your way. But just how much of a role would the weather play in Lost Planet 3? The weather will be dynamic, changing throughout the game. The different weather patterns will change the visual gameplay, for example when we first set out it was clear skies and we could see for miles, but later a blizzard came in and brought with it low visibility. This change will definitely keep players on their toes, and it will also mean that even if you navigate a route twice, there’s no guarantee that it will look the same both times, providing a new challenge each time.
The Vital Suit (VS) in previous Lost Planet games has been small, more compact, while the utility rig is larger and more bulky. The reasoning behind this was that the development team thought that tech would become smaller over time, so going back in time the rig would be bulky and lumbering, much bigger than the VS. The rig was first designed for civilian use and then weaponised after, showing how the colonists of EDN III had evolved over the years.
We’re sure you’re also wondering what the main difference between Lost Planet 2 and Lost Planet 3 is. According to Szymanski the core concept of Lost Planet 2 was the online experience and online co-operative mode, while Lost Planet 3 is focused on the singleplayer campaign, it’s a heavy narrative focused singleplayer story, Jim’s story. There will, however, be different multiplayer modes (although Capcom is keeping details on these modes under wraps at present) because the publisher believes that multiplayer is an important part of the Lost Planet franchise and so will continue with it.
The gameplay demo showed a lot of polish has gone into the game already, so we wanted to know exactly how long have Capcom been working on it. Szymanski revealed that Capcom have been working on Lost Planet 3 for just over two years now and that they started discussing the concept when Lost Planet 2 finished up. It’s a medium sized team with around 60 people working on the game, a team size that means they can share the vision with everybody and not have anyone doing less menial tasks.
We were big fans of Lost Planet 2 when it was released, but one of the major concerns we had with the game was with the checkpoint system. After explaining our frustration to the team and asking what measures have been put in place to address this concern, Oguro assured us that checkpoints will be placed at evenly spaced intervals and will be more along the lines of industry standards.
Thanks to Andrew Szymanski and Kenji Oguro for taking the time to answer our questions. Lost Planet 3 is looking intriguing, and we can’t wait to find out more about the game over the coming months. One thing’s for sure, after watching the gameplay demo it sure feels like a long time to wait until early 2013 to play the game!