Remedy: Perfecting That 30-Second Loop as Halo Did Doesn’t Cut It Anymore, There Have to Be Layers to the Experience
Remedy has a new game coming out in just over three months from now. It's the first full-blown multiplatform title they've made in a long time (2003's Max Payne was the last) and it will also take the developer in a slightly different direction. Control has more of a focus on exploration with its Metroidvania-like level design, for instance.
But it's more than just that. In an interview published in the latest Official Xbox Magazine (June 2019, issue 177), Remedy Director Mikael Kasurinen posited that simply perfecting a 30-second gameplay loop and repeating it for a whole game as Halo did in its heyday just doesn't cut it anymore in this day and age.
Players now demand more depth to their games, with several interesting layers forming the experience.
You look back on our previous games, Alan Wake had a flashlight, and that’s all he did; with Quantum Break we went a step further with the time mechanics… but there was also a little bit of a limit to how far we could go. Essentially, there are no limits in Control
– we don’t say that it’s just time, or it’s just light and shadows, we open up possibilities. Which allows us to manoeuvre and find what’s fun without being limited by the context we set ourselves. We like strong themes. ‘Okay, this is all about bullet time or this is all about light,’ it helps us to have a focus on the game, which is always healthy and good, but it maybe also comes from a different age and time. It was a common philosophy in the early ’00s: perfect that 30-second loop. Like what Halo did, perfect that one loop, make headshots feel good, and then you repeat that endlessly. It was a common strategy, and it was a good strategy, but I don’t think that’s enough anymore. You have to have that, but then you have to have other layers to the experience – progression, strong characters, an interesting world to explore. Even when they don’t play the game we want people to think about it, ‘Okay what will I do when I get back in the evening and return to playing Control? Will I tackle a side-mission?’ It’s a different age, I think. Our philosophy looking at game design needs to change as well, so it can’t be just fight with light, it needs to be more than that and that’s what we are doing with Control.
It is an interesting point of view and one I've personally had for quite some time, that is in regards to the Halo franchise. What was good enough until Halo 3 (2007) quickly faded as games with more complex mechanics and deeper experiences thrived, while the following Halo games failed to evolve and the franchise inevitably lost ground compared to others.
Whether Remedy will be able to follow through with Control remains to be seen. We'll know one way or another once the game ships, on August 27th.