Dead Space 3 Interview: Sci-fi Survival Horror Gets a Multiplayer Make-over

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Dead Space 3 Interview: Sci-fi Survival Horror Gets a Multiplayer Make-over

Dead Space 3 on PS3

Next February sees the release of the third main entry in EA’s critically lauded sci-fi survival horror series, Dead Space. While the first two games followed very similar templates, the latest installment really mixes things up by introducing full co-op play to the main campaign.

The optional drop-in, drop-out multiplayer lets a second player join in the story as new character Sergeant John Carver. While the game is fully playable as a solo experience, if you play with friend you’ll have an expanded story and get to experience a number of extra sequences and set-pieces.

We sat down with the game’s producer Steve Papoutsis to find out how – and why – developer Visceral Games has implemented this new system and what fans of the series can expect from reluctant hero Isaac Clarke’s latest adventure.

Dead Space 3 on PS3

PlayStation.Blog: What goals did you set yourself when you first started work on Dead Space 3?
Steve Papoutsis, Producer of Dead Space 3: When we started work on Dead Space 3 we set a couple of things in front of the team. One of the things we talked about was how do we make the best game we’ve ever done? So, we came up with a weird saying: we want to make a AAAA game. Everybody says they want to make a AAA game. Well, we said ‘you know what? **** that, we’re going to make a AAAA game’. I know it sounds funny, but we needed to set a target for ourselves.

The other thing we set out to do was to really deliver on what the essence of a Dead Space game is. We’re really not into the stereotypes of ‘it’s an action game’ or ‘it’s a horror game’, and so on. It’s a Dead Space game. That means intense atmosphere, engaging narrative, thrilling action, horror, survival, tension. Those are the things a Dead Space game needs to have. Those are the blocks we’re building with.

PSB: You introduced competitive multiplayer in Dead Space 2 which had a mixed response from gamers. Do you think Dead Space 3’s co-op play is a better fit?
SP: We’re not doing competitive multiplayer this time – we’ve done that – but it was a big help in us understanding how to build an online game. With our co-op we wanted to make sure that whatever we did felt unique. We didn’t just want to have an AI bot follow the player around and then when you hit a button and someone starts controlling that guy. That wouldn’t feel like Dead Space.

The other challenge was creating a co-op mode that felt additive to the experience. You don’t have to play it – you can play Dead Space 3 in single player and it plays out in very similar way to what you’ve experienced in the past.

And we needed to create a character that fit into the universe and didn’t feel like a throw-away character. We first announced John Carver through a graphic novel, so he has his own unique personality and backstory. So when you get into the game he actually brings value to what’s going on. You learn about him and his own personal demons. That’s very different, and we feel it’s very innovative.

Dead Space 3 on PS3Dead Space 3 on PS3

PSB: Many of the original Dead Space’s scares derived from the sense of solitude and loneliness. Won’t having another player at your shoulder dilute the horror?
SP: As for being alone and walking down a corridor on your own – you still have that in Dead Space 3. You can play the single player and you still have that. But now when you have another character in the scene with you, it’s a different approach to the horror – it’s more psychological. That’s a new feeling that you’ve never had in a Dead Space game. That’s how we’re injecting horror into the co-op.

“If you want to have the intense single player experience, you can still do that.”

I also think there’s a lot more to horror than things just popping out at you. There’s the atmosphere, the sound, the events, the things that you see in the environment – those all have different impacts on people. You can still have all that when you have two people walking around the environment.

Ultimately I think it will come down to who you’re playing with. I like to think of it like going to a movie. Say you and I go to a horror movie – we’ll sit there as horror fans and really get into it. We’re not going to talk during the movie, we’re going to sit on the edge of our seat, and be really into it.

But if you went with a different friend who doesn’t like horror, he or she might choose to talk through the movie or laugh at what’s going on. That’s going to impact how you enjoy the movie.

So, if you want to have the intense single player experience, you can still do that. And if you want to have an experience in co-op like that, I suggest you play with someone who likes to play that way. But if you just want to have fun like you’re at a popcorn movie, laughing and having a good time, play it with a friend who likes to play like that.

Dead Space 3 on PS3

PSB: How hard is to make a game that’s genuinely scary?
SP: What’s interesting to me is that I’ll read a lot of the feedback to our game and it’s vastly different. Some people say ‘oh gosh, it’s the scariest thing I’ve ever played’ while others just say ‘bah, I wasn’t scared at all’.

So, yeah, I think it’s hard to say you’re going to scare people. It’s very subjective. We don’t have a magic formula. We take our best guess at what will resonate with players. For us, it’s usually things that are relatable. Look at the character design of the necromorphs – they’re humanoid. You can relate to a guy who doesn’t have a jaw and has weird spikes sticking out of his arm. You can imagine ‘Ooh, that would be terribly painful!’ You can react to that.

PSB: How much of the game will you miss out on if you’re only play the single player?
SP: You’re not missing out on anything. The multiplayer is additive. If you’re playing single player you’re choosing to have that solitary Isaac experience. If you’re interested in learning about Carver, you’re playing with a friend and you’re getting that additive information, but it’s not changing the end of the story. It’s impacting Carver’s story.

PSB: Isaac has had a pretty terrible time over the course of the first two games. Will he finally catch a few breaks in Dead Space 3?
SP: We’ll see! I can say that Isaac was not looking to get himself into an adventure in this game. We’ll leave it at that and see where it winds up.

Comments are closed.


  • OMG! CO-OP is the BEST!! hope its kind ov me3 multiplayer with free map and non stop adds and balance change every weeks.
    my favorite serie of all time! DEAD SPACE FTW!
    btw engineer is soo OP :))
    i want it now ;)

  • game looks great can’t wait to play co op

  • I LOVE DEAD SPACE !!! :)

  • Dead Space 3 looks really good so far.

  • I have to reply to this statement.
    “‘oh gosh, it’s the scariest thing I’ve ever played’ while others just say ‘bah, I wasn’t scared at all’.”

    They do understand why people say that, right?

    For people who’ve been playing Horror games since the Saturn & PS1 and before that, on the PC do not find jump scares scary at all.

  • I believe this is the biggest cause. A few of my friends who never played Silent Hill, Fatal Frame or the like find Dead Space to be “absolutely brick excremental”; and they can’t even play Silent Hill 4 alone, in broad daylight and then, there’s the guys who wet themselves at everything and anything but pretend it doesn’t bother them.

    The problem with Dead Space is that the environment isn’t compelling, nor does it actually build any real tension that experienced horror gamers haven’t seen before.

    There’s no real urgency in the game.
    There’s no helplessness in the game.
    There is no foreboding nature in the game, this can be helped with music and pacing. There is no real emphasis on survival in the game either. Very few games did the survival element correctly, for example Metal Gear Solid 3, Raw Danger and Extermination where the characters needed something to keep onward.

    Granted, the enemies being able to walk through doors in part 2 was a nice surprise. In part 1, all you had to do was go to a room with a single vent and camp it until they stopped coming.

  • To me, that’s the problem with recent horror games. The majority of them are just action games with monsters.

    I still like the story of Dead Space, it reminds me of Run Like Hell.
    Although , my biggest wish is that they’d stop splitting the in-game storyline across multiple platforms. I hate the idea of having to own multiple mediums to get the entire story then to have one medium be vaguely connected to the rest of the storyline/changing story points on a whim aka pulling a Resident Evil.

    Stupid character limit.

  • Never really played a lot of dead space but i might try this one, But I got a fair question will players have the option to to play split screen or is it only online co-op?

  • please this time move support

  • enjoyed the first two games’ single player campaign, but Dead Space 2 had a horrible multiplayer. I really think EA should stop forcing their developers to shove these into single player games just to justify the $60 price tag.

    In some ways it negatively impacts the single player experience because it takes time away from it. Mass Effect 3 had a decent co-op multiplayer, but the single player felt underwhelming. The fact that they are talking about shoving it into Dragon Age 3 next, just pisses me off.

    Just keep these single player games single and lower the prices on the games if they are short. Not every game has to come out at $60. geez…

  • You can say the single player experience hasn’t changed as much as you want, but I just don’t believe you.

    When there is drop in/drop out the game is designed for two players and THEN made playable with one. I find it hard to believe you made a quality single player game and THEN made it playable with two players.

    I mean, just the environments alone must have changed a lot because everything has to be built with co-op in mind first.

    DS1 and 2 were awesome, but I will be skipping Army of Two in Space. zero-g dude-bro hi-five!

  • I will not be touching co-op at all. I find it stupid to be in survival horror. Though at least these guys have the brain to make it optional and not forced unlike another company I know.

  • I enjoyed the first two. I did enjoy that they gave Issac a voice in the 2nd game, but that’s really minor IMO. I was very interested in the story and found myself responding to the voice overs from other characters or to situations I found myself (well, found Issac) in.

    I did enjoy the controller configuration in the 1st more than the 2nd however. I would also have to respectfully disagree that the environments don’t offer much. I typically play through the survival horror games I own multiple times, starting with the simplest difficulty for familiarity and story and playing each difficulty level afterward.

    If I didn’t find the game entertaining, I wouldn’t really find replay value in it do so. As for the co-op, there are few things I’m not clear on but then again I’ve only done light reading on the subject (been studying y’know). The seamless drop-in/out, so if you play solo, or play co-op (with AI Carver) until someone joins in at a check point, can you switch which character you play as for solo or (AI co-op)? I read a blurb that said “play as Carver” so I am assuming you can swap. I read that Carver has his own sub story which extends from the graphic novels into the game.

  • Will the online co-op be cross-system? My husband and I *really* liked being able to play Portal 2 co-op on the PS3 and a destop/laptop.

    Will there be Move support?

  • Survival what? Not even Dead Space 1 is survival horror.

  • In my opinion this is one of the best series of survival horror games, I’ve played since the first few Resident Evil and Silent Hill games.

  • hey great cant wait for this game!
    anyword on price?
    need to know thanks!
    release date?
    any discounts for us ps+members?
    is it gonna be a PSN download?

  • looks awesome cant wait to BUY IT!!! =D

  • Coop always takes away the scary out of scary games. Resident Evil showed us that. Same exact thing with movies, I can never get scared watching a movie with someone else, I have to be by MYSELF to be scared.

    However, I do hope they make another animated movie to compliment the launch of Dead Space 3. I love animated films.

    The first Dead Space is the best and I don’t think that’s going to change.

  • eh it’s not really horror anymore.

    kinda like RE6 :P

    fun game though, but they definitely lost it’s soul.

  • Dead space has NEVER been nor will it ever be survival horror. Great series but enough already….it’s action.

  • A damn shame, as Dead Space was one of the decent IPs that EA has managed to put out, along with Mirror’s Edge(which I also expect to be ruined with social gaming/bro-gamer gimmicks). This interview reeks of damage control on Visceral’s part. I used to be a big fan of dead space, but I guess putting 60 bucks worth of effort into a single player game is far too much to ask in this generation.

    That said, we should of saw the signs of things to come in DS2. Despite being a great game, it was very railroaded.


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