During a brief preview event for Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Series Producer Nobuyuki Okajima to talk about what's to come in Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain, the first title in the EDF series to be completely redeveloped with a new engine and studio. Our interview questions were taken in part from the EDF Reddit community; the Q&A was conducted with the aide of a Japanese interpreter and has been edited for clarity.
Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain will launch exclusively on the PlayStation 4 on April 11th, 2019 in North America. Until then, check our fresh hands-on preview.
Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain is the first time that development has shifted from Sandlot to Yuke’s, possibly with a new engine. Are you discovering new possibilities that you can do with the Earth Defense Force series that you couldn’t previously do with Sandlot?
Of course, there are some things we found. We have to go back to why we started making Iron Rain. It’s a different branding; a different EDF. We want to keep the Sandlot numbering series as it is because it will evolve by itself. We also wanted to provide something closer to the United States and European users, so we found Yuke’s and they’re a very good partner with so much experience in making games.
Are there any new features exclusive to Iron Rain that will not make their way back into the Sandlot numbered Earth Defense Series?
That’s a very good and difficult question. Sandlot has a lot of respect for Yuke’s and Sandlot is going to look at Iron Rain to adopt some things if they like it. At this point, we can’t say which features will not make it into the Sandlot series.
With the Sandlot series, you have the traditional classes: Air Raider, Fencer, Trooper, and Wing Diver. Can you talk about the design philosophy for Iron Rain’s new classes? Do you feel like Prowl Rider is the replacement for the Air Raider class?
To begin, Iron Rain doesn’t have any characters like the Air Raider. Instead, all of the PA-Gear can use every weapon contrary to how the numbered series. The Air Raider could call in vehicles and those sorts of things. In Iron Rain, anyone can be the Air Raider (by summoning in vehicles). We can’t say that the Prowl Rider replaced the Air Raider.
With the redesign of the Wing Diver in Earth Defense Force 5, I really enjoyed how the character played but it was very difficult to balance between recharging your weapons and using the jet packs.
Will Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain support split screen on console, and if so, will it support vertical or horizontal split screen? Will players have the option to choose the orientation?
In offline play, there will only be vertical split screen with no horizontal split screen support.
The mission count for Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain is roughly 50 missions so far. That’s about half of what a numbered Earth Defense Force title would feature. Will these missions be longer or more complex than the Sandlot titles?
It’s true that the numbered Earth Defense Force titles, especially 5, has about 110 missions. Compared to that, Iron Rain only has about half. But Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain is a brand new game. If there were a hundred missions, maybe people will get tired and feel it’s too long. That’s why we made it shorter but also more compact with so many exciting things in each mission. If we started with 100 missions in Iron Rain, we’d have to put 200 missions in Iron Rain 2!
Let’s talk about the medal unlock requirements. In Earth Defense Force 5, if you played a mission on Hardest, you’d also get credit for playing on Normal and Easy. Inferno didn’t work this way; you had to play and complete that level separately. Will that be changed in Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain to allow the player to complete a mission on the highest difficulty and get credit for every difficulty? [This question wasn’t completely answered and we’ll reach back for clarification.]
If you pass certain conditions, you can see the other difficulties coming up.
To clarify, you won’t have the Hardest or Inferno difficulties available immediately and will have to unlock those?
Yes, that is correct. The most difficult levels (in Iron Rain) are called Disaster. If you go there from the beginning, you may only last 0.1 seconds.
Some players really enjoy going into a level on Inferno/Disaster, killing a few bugs, and using the AI to kill the rest to get very high powered weapons to use throughout the rest of the campaign.
Not everyone may understand the game like you. *laughs* If they only last a few seconds, there’s no meaning so they cannot enjoy the game. That’s why we decided to hide those things from the player.
For online play, typically there’s a limit on weapon or armor levels until you reach a certain requirement. Will that be in Iron Rain, and if so, how can you unlock that requirement?
I don’t think there will be a limit to the weapons you can use online in Iron Rain. We didn’t set a particular limit for the armor yet. We still have some final tuning to perform, but at this moment, we do not have any limits.
Will there be online co-op for Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain?
Yes, you can play the campaign online in Iron Rain with up to six players. There is also the online PvP battle modes with a max of eight players: four-versus-four.
Can you clarify what the credits/gems/in-game currency is used for in Iron Rain?
Allow me to explain using Earth Defense Force 5 as an example. In Earth Defense Force 5, when you defeat an enemy, a weapon box will come out. After the mission, you will see what sort of hidden things are inside. On the contrary, in Iron Rain, depending on what type of mission you clear or what type of enemy you defeat will reward you [with weapons after the mission]. However, you cannot use those weapons immediately. When a weapon comes out, it will be locked. You will need to pay with the various credits or gems you collected to unlock that weapon.
When you finish a mission, do you still have to manually pick up every gem box, or will it finally give you every box that dropped during that mission?
I need to clarify that there are no [item]boxes in Iron Rain, only gems. The gems are a very important resource for humanity which you will need to go pick up by yourself. You might not have seen it in Iron Rain yet, but there is an enemy that will also collect gems, so you will need to collect the gems before them.
Lastly, is it okay if I ask you a few questions for Earth Defense Force 5? We still have a few months before Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain launches on PlayStation 4. Do you have a timeframe for when the DLC packs may be released for Earth Defense Force 5 in North America?
Of course. Earth Defense Force 5 has already released last December. Most of the additional weapons were available on day one. The downloadable content will be coming soon. I’m not super clear on the dates, but I think Mission Pack One will be released in early February. In March, we will release Mission Pack Two.
My last question: Is there a possibility that Earth Defense Force 5 will be released for PC?
Maybe you remember Earth Defense Force 4.1. After the launch, there was a PC release on Steam. I think that [Earth Defense Force 5] will have one as well, but I do not know when.
Thank you for your time.