A Plague Tale: Requiem is about to show us the next generation of video game rats
For much of 2020, Asobo Studio had its head in the clouds. As airports around the world pulled up, the French developer was putting the finishing touches on Microsoft Flight Simulator, offering a timely invitation to bright and beautiful escapades through real-time airspace on planet Earth. But after a brief stint in those digital skies, Asobo’s attention returns to the heart of the sand and grime of dry land, rooted in the war-torn havoc of 12th-century France.
One of the many new E3 2021 games revealed over the summer, A Plague Tale: Requiem is the studio’s next project, as a direct sequel to its 2019 action-adventure hit, A Plague Tale: Innocence. The game’s brief cinematic teaser didn’t reveal much, but confirms that we’ll be reunited with Rune’s brother protagonists Amicia and Hugo, with a launch slated for next year exclusively on next-gen consoles and PCs ( this will also be available on Nintendo Switch via cloud streaming).
With A Plague Tale: Innocence’s next-gen update on Xbox Series X / S and PS5, in the Year of the Rat, so now is the perfect time to catch up with Asobo’s original first IP. Coming around the same time as some of the best adventure and action games of our time, it was easy to let Innocence slip away for better-known titles with bigger development budgets and marketing campaigns. But keeping it out of your backlog forever would be like missing a quietly exceptional pilgrimage through a rarely explored slice of history, and the beginnings of what may just be one of the most promising new IPs of the last generation.
rodents let off steam
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Much of A Plague Tale: Innocence’s uniqueness comes from its miniature hordes of plague-carrying parasites. At the height of the Black Death across Europe, swarms of carnivorous rats will flood Amicia and Hugo at almost every turn of their escape from the clutches of the French Inquisition. From the start, Asobo knew that if he wanted to make his rats the main antagonist of the game (not to mention an essential part of its puzzle and combat mechanics), he had to perfect their beehive-like behavior.
“The rats needed to have a sense of authenticity,” says game director Kevin Choteau, reflecting on the making of Innocence. “To invoke that feeling of something that could really exist in our world, and that also seems unstoppable, you know? We wanted players to be terrified of walking their path, knowing that they would die instantly. quantity was also a big challenge from the start – we knew we wanted as many rats as possible on screen. “
To realize their vision, Asobo’s team spent hours studying images of actual rat swarms in action, while examining how other games had performed large-scale crowd AI, clutter of Uncharted spiders to the revolutionary masses in another historical French adventure – Ubisoft Montreal Assassin’s Creed: Unity. But, as Choteau explains, the studio has also worked hard to maintain the illusion of their creatures, no matter how many of them are on screen at once.
“We wanted to make sure the rats looked believable when they were alone,” he adds. “If you watch World War Z you often see a huge group of zombies, but you never see how a single one behaves on its own. In our case you can only have one rat and it always has to be scary too. So there has always been that balance in making sure that a single rat could be really well animated with realistic behavior and path finding, but then be able to multiply that and maintain plausibility. ”
Sure enough, the rats from A Plague Tale: Innocence are the undeniable star of the series, casting an unpredictable element of dread and danger into every encounter, while providing unique gameplay opportunities for players smart enough to use them against human enemies. Game. .
Without going into too much detail, the game’s final chapter amplifies the rat’s action to the nth degree, pushing the story of Innocence into the waters of surreal horror with some of the craziest and most ungodly tapestries woven from all over the world. this generation. Go all the way and you’ll never be able to watch Disney’s Ratatouille the same way again.
A story to remember
A Plague Tale: Innocence sold over a million copies in its first year of launch, making new intellectual property a lasting franchise material for publisher Focus Home Interactive. Given the open ended climax of this game, it’s no wonder Asobo is already working hard on the sequel, which – according to the press release – aims to immerse players in “another struggle for survival in a world. dark and plagued medieval ”. like the siblings del Rune.
“The reception of the match was crazy for us, admits Choteau. “We did it for ourselves, basically. We said ‘Let’s do it for ourselves first and see what the players’ reaction looks like.’ But seeing the reaction in the first few weeks was so reassuring and amazing for the team. “
A Plague Tale: The trailer for Requiem confirms that the rats are also back in force, flooding the streets of French towns in numbers that even eclipse the crowds Amicia and Hugo had to contend with towards the end of the campaign. ‘Innocence. One can’t help but wonder how the supercharged SSDs of the latest consoles will allow Asobo to push its established “tech rat” to new limits, but Choteau offers a simple answer: “more of everything”.
“We’ve reached a point where the graphics are already as good as they can get,” he says. “So the fight is elsewhere. The next generation is about creating as many living worlds as possible. Where everything moves and reacts to your actions.” We can only imagine what these new frontiers in world-building mean for the next-gen rats of A Plague Tale, but the thought already has me crawling my skin.
Fresh out of A Plague Tale: Innocence and Microsoft Flight Simulator, Asobo has now firmly established itself as a studio to watch in the years to come. The team spent much of their early years working on Disney video game adaptations, but are now stepping into the next generation as a leading systems designer known for his commitment to authenticity, which he From real-time flight conditions to horrific expanses of teeth and tails.
Consult our entirety Calendar E3 2021 to keep up with each announcement, or watch below for our first look at the Death Stranding Director’s Cup.