Exclusive Interview: Visceral Games on Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel being a guilty pleasure and unpretentious fun

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Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel exploded onto shelves worldwide last week, and this co-operative shooter saw players teaming up to take an action-packed journey through the city of Mexico which finds itself at the mercy of a lethal drug cartel.

El33tonline enjoyed the ability to unleash mayhem thanks to the Frostbite 2 engine and the new Overkill ability. In our review of The Devil’s Cartel we said that “it may be over-the-top, it may be completely unbelievable, it may even be slightly ridiculous, but even so one thing that it is, is awesomely fun.”

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Thanks to EA South Africa, we were able to interview Michael Glosecki, Producer on The Devil’s Cartel, and ask him to give us more insight into what sets the game apart from other shooters, what inspired the setting and themes of the game, and why the Army of Two franchise has remained popular in this it’s third iteration. We also find out whether we might see four player co-operative action in the next Army of Two game, and if a blockbuster movie could be on the cards in the future.

Question 1: On the very surface The Devil’s Cartel looks like a recognisable shooter. What sets the game apart from its contemporaries that you think screenshots and trailers don’t convey? What experience does it offer that other games don’t?

Glosecki: Many people will be surprised how much the destruction will play a role in exposing enemies and just having fun. The cover-to-cover system is also a seamless way to navigate during combat without having to crouch all the time. The biggest surprise will be how the game rewards you for cooperating with Overkill which is an incredibly satisfying destruction super-power that never gets old.

Question 2: Are any of the original Army of Two designers or developers working on The Devil’s Cartel, or is this a brand new, fresh approach from a new team? What were you intent on bringing forward to The Devil’s Cartel and what did these developers feel should and shouldn’t be brought forward?

Glosecki: The team is primarily fresh with a handful of Army veterans. We kept weapon customization, paired cooperative moves like step jumps, breaches, the partner AI and aggro system, even though we removed the meter in favour of enemy behaviour changes and Overkill points. Back-to-back was very popular in the early games so we upgraded it by allowing players to trigger this anywhere as Overkill.

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Question 3: What inspired the setting of Mexico and the themes of a drug cartel? What drew the design and writing team to these elements – what got them excited about the setting for gameplay and narrative purposes – and what research was done into both the place and the events?

Glosecki: Army of Two needed a more contemporary story and a credible antagonist for our operatives to go up against. The drug cartels are ruthless and the setting is unique to the series. A number of our staff went to Mexico for research, and some even grew up there. We knew the subject matter deserved respect so the plot is serious and leaves the laughs to the characters coping with the stress. It’s a solid mix that has evolved and matured the series.

Question 4: How has aggro been integrated into The Devil’s Cartel compared to previous Army of Two games – when we played it at gamescom the meter wasn’t visible at the time – and how has Overkill been integrated with aggro?

Glosecki: The Devil’s Cartel has the same logic and meters under the hood as the previous game but we replaced the constant focus on a gauge with more attention to enemy animation and reactions in the world. If you use the TWO Vision feature of the player’s mask you can hover your reticle over an enemy for a second to see the Aggro if you really miss it.

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Question 5: Not many videogame franchises make it to a third iteration. What do you think has made the Army of Two series popular with its fans?

Glosecki: It succeeds simply because it is unpretentious fun. It is almost a guilty pleasure to play a shooter that isn’t trying to be everything to everyone. Coop, weapons, destruction and fun.

Question 6: A very important question: Can you high-five your team-mate?

Glosecki: We decided this should happen more in real life so we included split screen coop so your buddy will be sitting right next to you on the sofa.

Question 7: Female gamers are fast becoming an important demographic to cater to in videogames. Why is there not an option to play as a female T.W.O. operative? Was this considered during development?

Glosecki: Fiona in The Devil’s Cartel is a very strong female character that actually makes a habit of saving the main characters more than once.

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Question 8: What kind of DLC support can we expect for The Devil’s Cartel in the immediate and more long-term future?

Glosecki: In the coming month you’ll see more about this.

Question 9: With more games including multiplayer components for the first time in the series, such as Tomb Raider and God of War, were there ever discussions to add a competitive multiplayer mode to The Devil’s Cartel?

Glosecki: We did discuss it and even prepare for it, but cooperative play is the core of the game and we decided it was better to focus on that and not dilute the game. Also, some extra effort was put into making split screen work well.

Question 10: The Devil’s Cartel is running on the Frostbite 2 engine, how important was this engine in delivering destructibility and explosive gameplay?

Glosecki: It brings the Wham, Blam, Boom to the game and does it with no compromises. Blowing up the world in The Devil’s Cartel was made considerably easier with the new engine.

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Question 11: Looking at the new Overkill mode, how difficult was it to balance this new ability without making the game seem too easy for experienced players?

Glosecki: It will be 12 to 18 months before we can see straight again. It was a lot of back and forth with play testing, telemetry and other metrics to gauge the final tuning.

Question 12: What can we expect to see in the demo on the 12th March?

Glosecki: You need to bust out of a Drug Lab onto an exposed rooftop in hopes of evacuating yourself and the Mexican authorities who are helping you. Download it and show the cartel how tough you are.

Question 13: What feedback has the team used from the first two games for The Devil’s Cartel?

Glosecki: This game has much better camera control, locomotion, cover, destruction, story, soundtrack and the list goes on. We are very proud.

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Question 14: Would you ever consider making an Army of Two game into a four player co-operative game? Titles such as Left 4 Dead and Borderlands 2 have proved that this can be a very successful formula.

Glosecki: Maybe the next one.

Question 15: Was The Devil’s Cartel the first full game created at Visceral Montreal?

Glosecki: Yes and No. This was a new team for The Devil’s Cartel, but the EA Montreal studio has made a number of games.

Question 16: Have you ever thought of making Army of Two into a movie? It would make an excellent action blockbuster movie with plenty of explosions. Perhaps Jerry Bruckheimer could direct said movie, with the Rock taking on the role of Alpha and Vin Diesel the role of Bravo.

Glosecki: I think you’re on to something. You should be the Executive Producer with that kind of visionary thinking. I’d watch that.

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Thanks to Michael Glosecki for taking the time to answer our questions, and to EA, South Africa for arranging it.

Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel is available now for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Read our review and browse through our previous coverage to find out more about the game.

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