Rogue Warrior is a story-driven shooter that provides team-based tactical combat set in massive, contiguous levels using Unreal 3 streaming technology. Central to the game's single and multiplayer experience is the idea of a freeform battlefield, where players are given the freedom to choose how to complete a given objective, allowing for creativity and surprises, rather than heavily scripted events and tightly contained spaces traditionally used in this genre.
In Rogue Warrior, you play Dick Marcinko, leader of an elite SEAL unit trapped behind enemy lines in North Korea on a covert mission to assess the threat posed by North Korea's nuclear arsenal. When war breaks out between North and South Korea, you must try to lead your team back into South Korea while greatly outnumbered and with no support and limited resupply. Your journey will take you through a variety of never-before-seen environments inside of North Korea, including submarine pens, shipbreaker yards, prison camps, and more.
WP : How did Rogue Warrior come to be? Who approached who with the initial idea, and at what point did development begin? How far in development is Rogue Warrior at this point?
PH : It was a number of different conversations. We had been talking about doing a tactical shooter for a while. We’ve known Dick (Marcinko) for a while and had the idea of doing a game based on him and his book series. So we talked to the guys at Zombie about what we wanted to do with the game and they knew Dick and loved the idea and it took off from there. Game has been in production for about a year at this point.
WP : Rogue Warrior is inspired by the works of Dick Marcinko, the former Navy SEAL who penned an autobiography and a series of novels. Is it an all-new story, or based on one of the books? What is the story of the game, and how closely does it mirror his real-life experiences?
PH : It’s an all new story that we came up with – and Dick participated in that – but outside the story the theme and tone of the game, and Dick’s character, and his fellow SEALs is based both on his real-life experiences and his books (which are, themselves, reflections of his real-life experiences).
WP : Though the game is described as story-driven, it is also said to eschew the scripted events of its competitors. How does the narrative progress in Rogue Warrior?
PH : Well the story itself is pretty straightforward. SEAL team goes into N. Korea to check out some subs and see if they’re being used to move their nuclear program forward, and in the process all hell breaks loose and North Korea starts a war with South Korea. With no means of getting out, you and your team have to make your way from a couple hundred kilometers behind enemy lines back to S. Korea.
How you move through each mission in the game, though, is up to you. You’ll have multiple options to choose from so that if you fail, you can take the same path again and do something different, or go a completely different route. You can sneak, try to get through with guns blazing, set up booby traps, create diversions…it’s really up to the player to figure out how they want to get through a level.
WP : How would you describe the gameplay in Rogue Warrior? Always a tricky issue, how does the advanced AI system set the game apart from other team-based shooters on the market?
PH : SEALs were created to be unconventional warriors. For the most part, they avoid combat until they know they’ve tipped the odds dramatically in their favor, then they strike hard and fast and get the hell out of there. So the gameplay in Rogue Warrior reflects that. It’s not a game where you run down the street and shoot anyone that comes out a doorway. I mean, it can be that kind of game, but since you’re behind enemy lines you’ll find the odds quickly stacked against you if you do that.
So it’s about using stealth and knowing when to kill, and how. Using knife kills or head shots to take out a lone guard or patrol, and then booby trapping his body so when his buddies can’t raise him on the radio and come looking for him, they all go boom. The AI is designed to work well in an environment where you don’t always know where the player will be or what they’ll be doing. If you attack a patrol of three grunts, the third guy may turn and run if you kill the first two. Or maybe he’ll go hit the alarm button and call for help, if there’s one close by. If he’s an officer he’ll stand and fight, and he’ll keep any other soldiers from running if things start going bad. It’s designed to be flexible and organic so that it works no matter which path through a level the player may take.
WP : Mark Long, lead producer at Zombie Studios, said the game has “a unique HUD and control system for your teammates.” Can you shed any light on these unique aspects?
PH : One of the nice things about your squad control is that you can spend as much or as little time with it as you want. Your teammates will mirror what you do, so if you go into stealth mode to move more quietly, they’ll automatically do the same. You can command them as a group and tell them to move to a specific location, or you can position and order each teammate individually. This allows you a lot more control and flexibility when setting up an ambush or trying to take cover when attacked.
WP : Rogue Warrior features co-op play for up to four players. Will co-op play be available online, or just on a single console? Will this be available on all platforms?
PH : It’s supported online across all platforms. Basically you start playing the campaign and any of your friends can see your playing and jump into your game. At any point they can leave and control gets turned back over to the AI. So you don’t have to wait to start a game until your friends are online, and you don’t have to quit out and start again on your own if they leave.
WP : Rogue Warrior boasts over hundreds of maps thanks to its unique tiling system. How does the tiling system work and how varied will the maps really be?
Each map is made up of three tiles. The center tile is chosen by the game, and then each team gets to vote on its own tile. Tiles offer a variety of environments…some better suited for snipers, or for close combat, or with a bit of both. After each team votes on what tile they want to defend, all three tiles are revealed to everyone before the game starts. The tiles blend together seamlessly in the game regardless of the configuration, and what you get is a huge number of possible maps and not so much of the same six or eight every single time where you always know where everyone is going to run or what you have to attack.
WP : What can you tell us about the ten multiplayer modes planned for the game? How many players will the various platforms support? Will there be cross platform multiplayer connectivity?
PH : We support a lot of the gameplay types that folks are used to. Deathmatch, team deathmatch, domination, capture the flag, assassination, and so on. Current plans are to support up to 24 players for all platforms. Multiplayer will be platform specific…no plans for cross-platform play at this time.
WP : Are there going to be any platform specific differences, or will they all have the same content? Any plans for exclusive post-release downloadable pack, such as weapons, outfits, or even full on content?
PH : We’re planning to make the game the same across all platforms. Way too far down the road to start thinking about post-release content, much less what we’d do for each platform.
WP : In what ways has Marcinko assisted with the creation of the game? Marcinko hosts a conservative-leaning talk-radio show – will Rogue Warrior have any overtly political dialogue or situations within the narrative?
PH : He’s been a great resource for us in making sure the game is authentic is possible. So we pick his brain on a lot of things, from how different objects look, how SEALs might hold a weapon, their tactics, how they move, all of those kinds of things. We’re trying to get all of that as true-to-life as possible. And no, nothing in the game has anything to do with his radio show or political affiliations. None of that really applies to a SEAL team trying to get out from behind enemy lines. They’re focused on living and fighting and nothing else.
WP : Rogue Warrior is currently slated for release next fall, which may put it in the same release window as Halo 3 and new iterations of other established franchises. How will Rogue Warrior differentiate itself from the heap of other shooters on the market?
PH : Well, Halo 3 is a completely different kind of game. We aren’t making a game like Halo or Gears or Call of Duty. Rogue Warrior is a tactical shooter. It emphasizes the team dynamic, using stealth, making choices about which way you want to tackle a particular challenge or level, and so on. We think that we’ve got a lot of different features that will appeal to folks that like a good shooter. The idea of an open battlefield, the story, the personality of Dick and his SEALs, challenging levels, good AI…all of those things combine for a really interesting game that does a lot of things just a little bit different than anybody else.
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