NR Interview with Dead Space 3 producer Shereif Fattouh

Dead Space is a series that started off fairly well. It wasn’t a good enough start for EA, but the series has been picking up steam. Now with the inclusion of a co-op mode, and Visceral Games’ claims that Dead Space 3 will retain all of the original elements that fans love, it’ll be interesting to see how all of this turns out. Shereif Fattouh was kind enough to sit down and talk with me about Dead Space 3, a game that is probably the most important in the franchise thus far.

RS: I see that there’s a larger variety of necromorphs this time around.

Shereif Fattouh: Yes. Yeah, we definitely added a lot of new necromorphs. That’s something that’s always a part of the Dead Space franchise, obviously. In addition to that, you know, the Unitologists have entered the mix. There’s a ton of new enemies, a ton of new challenges for Isaac and Carver to face together.

RS: I saw that on one of the necromorphs, after it was sliced in half, some tentacles popped out of the lower half. What if you cut off the arm? Would tentacles pop out from there as well?

Shereif Fattouh: No. The tentacles pop out if you take off any part of his upper body; If you take enough of his limbs off, his tentacles will sprout from where his torso was torn off, but if you shoot his legs, he’ll turn into a crawling enemy.

RS: Are there any special necromorphs that you can tell me about?

Shereif Fattouh: The Feeder. You might have seen him at the end of the demo when you’re fighting the nexus boss. He’s kind of a skinny, elongated enemy. One of the cool things with them is that they have a different AI state. Normally when you encounter them in the game, they’re going to be with a bunch of other ones; they kind of roam around in packs. They’re not going to attack you right away. They’re feeders, so they’re always hungry. They’re always looking around for their next meal. They’re very sensitive to light and sound. When you walk into a room they won’t pay any attention to you, but if you shine your flashlight on them, or if you walk too close to them, or if you fire off your gun, they’re going to come storming after you. So that gives you a little bit of gameplay variety. You can try to sneak around them. Most of the time it’s going to be pretty tough to do, but at the least, you can better choose when you want to fight them.

RS: Was Dead Space 3 inspired by The Thing?

Shereif Fattouh: We have a lot of references. We’re big movie buffs, game buffs, everything. We take a lot of reference from a lot of different sources, but we definitely have some fans of The Thing in the mix, sure.

RS: I assume that the game changes depending on whether players are playing single player or co-op.

Shereif Fattouh: Yeah, the difficulty does scale depending on which mode you’re playing. The amount of enemies in some cases, the amount of damage that you do to the enemies and things like that, and how much damage they do to you can be dynamically updated. We’re still kind of playing around with it. It’s not final yet, but we’re focusing on it so that you’ll have a good experience in single-player and co-op.

RS: There are some Resident Evil fans who are not too fond of the series becoming action-focused. How is Dead Space 3 regarding this issue?

Shereif Fattouh: Well, if you look at the leap from Dead Space one to Dead Space two, we’re taking kind of a similar leap from Dead Space two to three, but I mean it’s still, at its core, an intense, atmospheric experience. There is action and high-intensity combat, but there’s also a lot of creepy scares, and a lot of tension throughout the game. So I think one of the things that helps us is the way we’re implementing our co-op, for example. If you choose to take the game on individually like you did in previous Dead Space games, you can still do that. You won’t have any kind of buddy follower or companion the entire time. You’re going to have that complete isolation that some people really love, but if you want to play with a friend, you have the ability to do so. It’s not like it’s going to be un-scary with a friend–it’s still pretty scary–but we allow you to choose how you want to play it.

RS: Continuing with co-op, what would the experience be like for gamers who play through the game, and go back and forth between single-player and co-op?

Shereif Fattouh: Well, it’ll be great. The main narrative stays the same throughout single-player and co-op. The main distinction between the two is that in co-op you see more interactions between Isaac and Carver, which we showed in the demo. Like, in single-player you see him up on the catwalk, and he’s doing his own thing; he’ll say something like, “Hey, I’ll meet you over in this other place. I’m getting chased down by necromorphs.” But if you happen to be playing in co-op, he’s with you, obviously. And then you have another cutscene that’s a little different, and both players will be interacting with each other, and Carver might say something like, “I want to make sure you’re doing this for the right reasons.” and, you know, “Forget Ellie. We need to get off this planet alive.” It’s more along those lines. If you jump in and jump out, it’s not going to affect the main story arc. You’ll hit all of those points, but you will get a little bit more in-depth character development with Carver if you happen to play in co-op.

RS: What was the process like regarding the exclusion of the multiplayer mode in Dead Space 3?

Shereif Fattouh: Well, everything that we do, we want to make super awesome. You know, high quality stuff. So, the co-op is a huge challenge. It’s the first time we’re doing it in the franchise, so quite honestly it’s just really about focusing on the right things. We really wanted to make sure that our single-player campaign is as awesome as it can be, and we really wanted to make the co-op campaign equally compelling. We didn’t want to just tack on multiplayer without evolving it. We couldn’t just do the exact same thing but with new maps. Again, at Visceral we don’t like doing anything half-assed. If we’re going to do it, we’re going to make it as awesome as we can make it. So it’s really just a decision about what we wanted to focus on. We thought that single-player and co-op were the most important things.

RS: The low-gravity sections in Dead Space 2 improved a lot over the first game. What kind of things have improved in three?

Shereif Fattouh: Well, a lot of the player mechanics. We showed some of that in the demo. Isaac has some all new moves. We’ve added a dodge maneuver. We’ve added crouch, and we’ve adder our own unique lean, adaptive cover system. So a lot of Isaac’s movements are going to be much more fluid, and they’ll allow a lot more user control, but at the same time it’ll still feel like Dead Space. We’re not straying too far from Dead Space’s core mechanics; we’re just adding a bit more mobility, and I think that’s going to actually feel really good to players.

RS: I know that you guys are not supposed to be talking about the new weapon system, whatever it is. However, I did see a brief clip where a weapon was being used in a melee fashion, and it looked weapon-specific.

Shereif Fattouh: Yeah, so I can’t give out too many details, but we will be having big announcements for the weapons and the whole system behind it. We think it’s going to be very cool system that fans are going to love.

RS: The Aliens cargo loader became very iconic. Is there any chance that we’ll see some type of vehicle in Dead Space 3?

Shereif Fattouh: Uh, can’t really talk about that right now, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind. ::chuckles::

RS: Ever since the first Dead Space, I’ve always wanted to play through a deep cave system, whether under water, or on an alien planet. Is there a chance of that happening?

Shereif Fattouh: I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

RS: My other questions are a little too spoilerific, so is there anything else that you would like to say about the game?

Shereif Fattouh: I want to make sure that our fans understand that, you know, we really listen to the community, and we understand what people are asking for and what people love about Dead Space. I just hope that with the addition of co-op and some of our new mechanics that they don’t get turned off. Some fans may be thinking that it’s not going to be a game that they’ll love, but once they get their hands on it, I think they will. When we come to E3 and other shows, we like to show off things that are new, because that’s the really important thing; but we know what we do really well: our zero g, intense moments, scares, and exploration of defunct spaceships. All of that will be returning. So I just want to make sure that, if anything, our message to our fans is that everything you know and love about Dead Space is still going to be there; we’re just adding more.

Dead Space 3 is currently scheduled for a February 2013 release date on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.

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Ryan Southard
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Ryan Southard is a video game enthusiast, dissecting games down to their tiniest details. Whether it's new or it's old, as long as it's awesome, he'll play it. Follow him on Twitter at @Ryan_Southard <a href="">Meet the Nerd Reactor Team</a>