Interview | 2/26/2013 at 3:00 PM

Interview with Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army Developer Rebellion

Will zombie sniping be a PC only affair?

Sniper Elite v2 was actually a remake/reboot of the original Sniper Elite, a third-person sniping shooter set in WWII. Many of the base gameplay mechanics, i.e., finding an ideal vantage point to take out a key target, using some modicum of stealth to get there, and adjusting your aim based on wind/bullet drop, were still used in Sniper Elite v2, but everything got a bit of a revamping and tweaking. This included the ability to play through the entire campaign with a friend and co-op friendly multiplayer modes. While there has been a steady stream of mission packs and weapons released for the game after its release, only a small handful of these actually added to the co-op (and those were only for the PC).

The recently announced Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army is, again, welcome news for PC players, but seems to leaves console players in the cold once more. We decided to go straight to the source, developer Rebellion, and ask them about Sniper Elite v2's pedigree and if we can expect a console release for Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army.

Co-Optimus: With Sniper Elite v2, why do a remake instead of a sequel?

Rebellion: Sniper Elite had a great setting that gamers really responded to. With Sniper Elite V2 we reset the World War Two timeline to fit in with the slightly different feel of the game, so while SEV2 is a new title and theoretically could be considered a sequel, we refer to it more as a reboot.


Co-Optimus: When was the decision made to include co-op in Sniper Elite v2? What kind of challenge did that present when developing the game?

Rebellion: From the very start we intended to deliver a strong co-op experience and making the campaign playable in co-op was a key aim. The challenges were a fun stretch goal for the title that we’re delighted we got in place.


Co-Optimus: Were there other co-op modes you thought of or wanted to try out in addition to the three in the game?

Rebellion: Absolutely loads! There are obviously limits on what we can achieve in the time it takes to get a game out there, but we’re saving them for the future...


Co-Optimus: Did you get inspiration from any other co-op games while working on Sniper Elite v2?

Rebellion: Not specifically co-op games and nothing specific I can think of for co-op inspiration. We spent time looking at a range of titles in the genre such as Gears of War, Splinter Cell series and Ghost Recon-type games.


Co-Optimus: Playing through Sniper Elite v2’s campaign mode solo has a very different feel to it than doing so in co-op. Solo play feels stealthy with occasional frantic moments while co-op feels a little more rowdy as there’s a buddy there to back you up. Co-Op also has these great moments where you’re lining up shots to take down enemies simultaneously and calling your shots out. Was there any thought given to changing the co-op campaign slightly or adding some specific co-op features like “co-op snipe shot”?

Rebellion: We aimed from the start of development to make sure the single player experience could be supported within the co-op campaign. The ‘resuscitate’ feature was added to encourage players to stick together and assist more in teamplay. AI positions at times were tailored for a co-op encounter, allowing players the opportunity to discuss tactics.

Co-Optimus: Why is the X-Ray kill cam featured less prominently in the co-op mode?

Rebellion: Two reasons: firstly, the problem here is that by showing off a kill cam you remove control from the player viewing it. This player is then at the mercy of enemy fire his buddy might have drawn his way. Secondly, the pausing that occurs when delivering a kill cam can be jarring to the player who hasn’t fired the shot, they could be in a precarious position, or in the middle of a particular action. Having them either pause and wait, or view the buddy kill cam was deemed to have a negative effect on gameplay. Therefore we decided to limit the number of kill cams considerably, mainly to final shots in levels/challenge waves etc.


Co-Optimus: What were your main goals for Sniper Elite v2 when you began development? Do you feel you met those goals?

Rebellion: We wanted to continue what the first Sniper Elite game had done – make the sniping game genre our own. It gained a lot of respect for bringing a different dimension to shooting games and with Sniper Elite V2 we wanted to combine that with slightly more mainstream gameplay to make it accessible to a wider audience. I believe we achieved that and in doing so secured a bright future for the series.


Co-Optimus: Was there anything you wish you could have accomplished or done with Sniper Elite v2?

Rebellion: There were a number of compelling ideas and features we simply didn’t have time to implement for SEV2. So yes, a number of extra features would have been great, but was simply too far a stretch within the timeframe that we had. This is normal with games development, but the key thing is to make sure your best ideas make it through.


Co-Optimus: With the DLC that’s been released thus far, why haven’t we seen more co-op missions or at least the option to play the mission packs cooperatively; particularly for the console releases?

Rebellion: On PC we did release a number of new co-op challenges that seemed to go down very well. The problem is that the vast majority of requests from our customer base were all for single player maps, so this is where we concentrated efforts.

Co-Optimus: Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army was recently announced for the PC and we’re looking forward to taking on the hordes of the undead through our sniper scopes. What can we expect, gameplay-wise, from NZA? Has anything been added or tweaked from Sniper Elite v2?

Rebellion: Zombies. Lots and lots of zombies. Because of the very different kind of enemy, the gameplay experience is slightly different to SEV2 and with the four player co-op it really puts you in the heart of every cool zombie movie you’ve ever seen – every single moment is a struggle for survival and the WWII setting is genuinely creepy. The game is coming out on PC so we’ve been able to ramp up the enemy count quite significantly.


Co-Optimus: In the press announcement I know Jason mentioned that doing this as a stand-alone title freed you all up from some confines, but does this also mean we won’t be seeing a console release of the game? No possibility for a DLC expansion or XBLA/PSN title?

Rebellion: We’ve been inundated with requests for Nazi Zombie Army on consoles, so we’re looking in to see what we can do to make this happen.


Co-Optimus: Aside from that, what’s next for Rebellion?

Rebellion: As well as bringing our NZA we’re currently working on quite a few titles for iOS, as well as bringing them to other platforms, and we’re hoping to have some big news later this year.


We'd like to thank Rebellion for taking the time to answer our questions. Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army hits PCs this Thursday, February 28.