The release of Metro: Last Light, the long anticipated successor to Metro 2033, is less than a month away. The original game had an incredibly oppressive and dark atmosphere that drew gamers into this world where mankind has sentenced itself to the remains of the Moscow Metro after a nuclear war. Will Last Light achieve this same ambiance as well as address some of the original’s shortcomings?
We were lucky enough to get Jeremy Greiner from Deep Silver to answer oodles of questions about the game for us, because we just can’t wait until May 14th!
1. First, who are you and how have you been involved in the development of Metro: Last Light?
Jeremy Greiner, I’m the Communications Manager on the game. Since I came from THQ and am now with Deep Silver, I’ve been around for most of Metro: Last Light’s development. Most of my personal involvement on the dev side is in more of the Creative Management realm, where I translate consumer sentiment into game development by providing creative feedback, usability reports, competitive comparisons, etc.
2. How does this game tie into the Metro 2033 book? I read in one place that the author, Dmitry Glukhovsky, was very involved with Last Light, and I read in another place that he has not been very involved. Haha, which is it? What is the extent of his involvement?
He wrote the entire script for the game, so yea – he has been involved. He also worte Metro 2034, but both he and 4A games thought a completely separate story that continues the journey of Artyom would make for a much better video game sequel to its predecessor.
3. Will those who have not played Metro 2033 get any less out of this game?
The start of the game quickly gets the player up to speed on the “story so far,” so there’s nothing lost. That person can pick-up ‘n play & have a great time.
With that said, those who played Metro 2033 will have a much stronger connection initially with the game, have a greater understanding of the setting, characters, game mechanics, etc. I have to assume that’s pretty standard in sequels. But, I can say user experience in Metro: Last Light is greatly improved, so I feel both veterans and newcomers alike will really enjoy the experience.
The story of this game picks up from the ending where you, as Artyom, have caused the nuclear genocide of the Dark Ones race. Metro: Last Light continues that personal journey and you learn that perhaps that was not the right decision.
The karma or choice system which operated behind the scenes in the first game worked great and was well received; one would assume you would see its return in Last Light…
5. How has the gameplay changed from Metro 2033?
I’d say the majority of changes from Metro 2033 to Metro: Last Light fall under the umbrella of improved “user experience.” While the first game was great and everyone is proud of it, we definitely view it as a flawed masterpiece. So, gameplay elements that were frustrating in the first have been ironed out in this sequel.
AI as a whole has been drastically improved. Human AI has various states of alert, perform search patterns, flank, surrender, retreat, etc.
Mutant AI is completely different from Human AI, and from species to species. Some attack head-on, others side-to-side & forwards-backwards, others completely differently. It makes for solid combat variety and strategic weapon choice to deal with the various attack patterns.
7. Tell us a little about the choices a player has to use a stealth approach or not.
You always have the choice when confronted with enemy humans to use stealth or not. There are usually at least 3 paths that you can take to get to safety, if patient. And, it pays off too – stealth is definitely your best defense!
Resources are limited and scarce, so conserving ammunition (one type of which also serves as in-game currency) is always in your best interests. That said, if you’re a run ‘n gunner, exploring the world can equip you with the firepower to mow through the opposition.
They have a huge effect, the game has a consistent feeling of claustrophobia and they help deliver that while you’re on the surface. You need to scavenge for filters, wipe your mask clean, swap for one that’s not cracked, keep your lamp manually charged, etc. – all those actions that the player has to do really supports the feeling of desperation & claustrophobia.
Add in a firefight at the same time against huge mutant creatures, and yea, that’s some killer gameplay!
9. How big of a role does destructability of the environment play?
I would say it plays a minor role. It’s there so you can’t sit behind certain cover for too long, as it will disintegrate in front of you. But, the concrete shattering away really adds to the drama of a firefight and looks great in the 4A engine.
A fair amount of the game is literally on-rails, being set in a Metro and all. But, usually there are areas off the critical path for you to explore as well, new story elements to uncover, & secrets to find.
11. How challenging is it to create a game with a very minimal HUD and still communicate all necessary information to the player?
It’s a tough challenge and when Ranger Mode is on, you will really see how the team dealt with that. Given this game is built to be a highly atmospheric experience within the world of Metro, they use that world to deliver the tips you typically get through the use of a HUD.
Various audio cues, NPC interactions, a compass, impact sounds when shooting, among many other tactics are used to communicate to the player all that is needed to be successful.
For sure. The necessity to use the military grade ammunition as ammunition has been dialed down with vastly improved weapon balancing, hit detection, & more powerful primary ammunition.
AI has been overhauled as well, that nasty bug is gone and they have all of the behaviors that I mentioned before.
13. Last I heard there was going to be no multiplayer component at launch, but it was still under consideration as DLC. Does that still hold true? Are you at all worried that this will affect the popularity of the game?
We originally had a small prototyping team on MP, but folded them back into the SP team last summer. Basically, the team at 4A wanted to try it, so they put a little work into it. The community fed back and it was very clear that they wanted a SP game and had little to no interest in MP. Easy choice, it was cut.
In terms of it seeing the light of day as DLC, I don’t know. No one ever likes to throw away work, but at this point I see a digital MP component for Metro: Last Light as doubtful. Maybe key learnings and code will find their way into a future product.
14. There’s been some controversy over Ranger Mode being offered only as part of the Limited Edition package. There were a lot of fans of this mode from Metro 2033. Why was this decision made?
Because it’s the best mode for the core fan, the guys that are pre-ordering Metro: Last Light. What better reward to give them?
It’ll also be available Day 1 for download, so even if you haven’t secured the Limited Edition with pre-order, it’s still readily available for everyone to grab.
15. Besides the Limited Edition, any other plans for DLC at this point?
Definitely. Now that the team is clearing submissions, focus will shift to getting downloadable content built and packaged up. Stay tuned, we plan on announcing details in the days to come!
The game was being prepared for submission in January when the transition happened, so it was a tricky time. Do you add content in, do you not? Ultimately, a few things got picked up off the cutting room floor and the date/publisher shift allowed time for some additional polish.
17. My girlfriend hates… and I mean HATES spiders. How can I convince her to play this game?
Just be sure she skips the level, “Regina”
[ Ed: Noted, I guess I'll have to help her out with that one. ]
The amount of detail in the world, it’s literally the most detailed game I can ever remember playing. You don’t notice it at first, but at one point you come to that realization and it’s pretty cool.
19. PC or console? There’s only one right answer.
I am admittedly a console junkie… that said, for this game, PC is the way to go. I just referenced how detailed the world is, this will be another PC benchmark title, so that platform is its natural home.
20. The question that we like to ask all developers and publishers: what’s your favorite game of any genre that you didn’t make?
Return to Castle Wolfenstein (PC). I really love FPS multiplayer as a gamer and that game had the best objective-based balance ever, p.e.r.i.o.d.
I literally played the same gametype (Stopwatch) on the same map (Beach Invasion) for 9000 hours. It’s when I became a hardcore gamer and was the spark that led to my career in this industry.
[ Ed: Maybe this is Jeremy. ]
21. Will there be more Metro games?
Kudos to Jeremy for taking the time to appease our need for more information about this game. We’re counting the seconds until we can experience the real thing and hopefully tell you that it’s everything the original game was and more.
Are you as excited as we are? Are you pre-ordering the game to get Ranger Mode? What other info should we have gotten from Jeremy while we had the gun to his head? Let us know in the comments.