Our coverage from the Army of Two: The 40th Day Community Event in Montreal continues today with an interview with the game’s multiplayer Lead Designer, Eric Chartrand. Eric went into some detail with us about the new Extraction mode, including how this mode even came about, what inspired them, and how the multiplayer modes have their own version of the co-op playbook. He even hints at some co-op possibilities for future Army of Two games...
Co-Optimus.com: Thanks for sitting down with us and for having us out here for the community event! A little over a month ago, you announced the four-player co-op survival mode, Extraction. Could you tell us a little bit more about why you decided to develop this mode?
Eric Chartrand: This [mode] came as a bit of a surprise because Army of Two is a two-player co-op, single-player campaign game with a very strong multiplayer versus side but we wanted to find ways to expand that to four players. We know our game is successful for me and a buddy playing together but how can we expand on that? And while we were exploring on ways for that to happen, we kind of created that mode; granted that it existed in Horde and Left 4 Dead, but our goal was slightly different. [We wanted] to recreate the idea of warfare where you need to survive and this is the theme of the campaign, it’s a surviving game… It’s called Extraction because the goal is to reach the extraction zone - you’re operatives who are sent in to do some stuff and then you have to be taken out… It’s really intense and it’s really hardcore because we wanted it to be that way. We wanted players to be in the context of “what can we do to survive together,” and I think the bonding experience is core to what we want in there. Once we had that, we found it kind of cool and decided to offer it to our dedicated fans for free as a pre-order bonus.
Co-Optimus.com: Definitely one of the better pre-order bonuses we’ve seen paired with a game, too. I noticed while playing the mode that each of the arenas for the maps were very tight, which lead to this feeling that players and enemies are practically on top of one another. How did this kind of a level design for the arenas come about?
Eric: What’s fun about that is that you kind of know the limit, the boundaries; you can’t have a player go wondering off in his own direction. We stuck all the players in the same area, with enemies spawning all around you, so there’s no safe spot; you need to learn the pattern, you need to learn the way things happen. We took inspiration from the old arcade games, those old games like…
Co-Optimus.com: Smash TV?
Eric: Yes, yes, [and with those games] there’s a definite pattern. [We wanted something similar where] you kind of know the pattern… Like you kind of know that after defeating that enemy you need to re-group at that location because they’re probably going to come up from that direction and if you’re not careful you’re going to be dead very quickly… Since it gets very, very difficult, at some point, it becomes a real teamwork effort, so it makes more for a ballet of sorts.
Co-Optimus.com: We noticed that the game supports splitscreen, on-line, and splitscreen with on-line co-op modes. Was there a particular reason why system link wasn’t included?
Eric: This is a decision [where] we could have done it, but it was a decision not to do it because we could put the effort somewhere else, especially the splitscreen. We’re one of the few games that still offers splitscreen. Not many games [do this] because everyone’s trying to get 30 frames per second, or 60 frames per second, so the first thing they’re going to ditch is the splitscreen. Our philosophy [is that] it’s part of Army of Two - Army of Two you need to be you and your buddy on your couch playing on one machine. But to make this happen you need to put the effort to make it happen. [So] we focused on this because it made more sense for our franchise to be able to play splitscreen than to be able to link two XBoxes.