BeyondUnreal's E3 interview with Steve Polge

BeyondUnreal got a chance to sit down one on one with Steve Polge and ask him a few questions about Unreal Tournament 2007. First, we saw an extended version of this video, where Steve played through the small Conquest level while giving us some information about UT2007 in its current state and where they wanted to go with the game.

Fans line up for the UT2007 gameplay trailer early in the morning.

The first thing I did while watching the video was note the weapons. It was fairly easy to spot the Rocket Launcher and Shock Rifle, but we also caught glimpses of the Flak Canon, Bio Rifle and Avril. As he got further into the level we started in with our questions about the game.

BeyondUnreal: We've been told that Conquest would be a mix of Onslaught and Assualt. How will this gametype play out?

Steve Polge: Conquest is Onslaught meets Assault, with the addition of optional missions. Basically, the idea is that there is a larger scale campaign with a battlefield situation back and forth. [Steve stops and blows up a Manta] And along the way you will have these optional missions that you can choose to do or not to do, but that can effect the outcome. For example, if you take out the command center then it will affect their ability to send stuff or maybe even take out an enemy bridge that keeps them from bringing their big weapons over. With the advantage of our seamless streaming technology the campaigns will be a much larger scale than Onslaught. Rather than having a single mission or objective it will feel like a campaign where the battlefield will move back and forth across multiple levels completely seamlessly. One of the things we think that make Unreal Tournament what it is is that you have very intense situations and you are never out of combat for very long. The actual battlefield or frontline where you'll be fighting at any time will be a relatively small area where everybody is focused and fighting together. [Steve then moves through the level, mowing down opponents (and missing a few ;-) and sets the explosives.]

BeyondUnreal: How will the enchanced physics impact the gameplay of modes such as Conquest and Onslaught, and will the ability to interact with objects and the environment be utilized in other gametypes such as DM and CTF?

Steve Polge: That will definately depend on a per-level basis. Like we'll have, for example, a few levels where we really go crazy with destructable environments and kind of make that the focus of the level. For the most part the thing is that [destructable environments] can really effect gameplay kind of in a way that's out of the control of the design of the game, where you basically don't want to end up in a pile of rubble that you're playing over. However, we will certainly have damageable environments. I say the biggest area the physics effects us is things like the vehicles and other physical objects. Vehicles and physics are much more complex and realistic than they were in 2k4. In 2k4 the tank kind of felt like you were pushing a box around. Now it really feels like a tank: The treads deform as you're going over terrain and it all just feels very solid and much more natural to drive. We will also have what we call "damageable environments" everywhere, which means that you'll see the effects, so it will be more than just a decal or a blotch, you'll actually see some 3D effects to it when you inflict major damage. How much of that we allow to be gameplay focused, like I said, will probably be a per level basis. So we might have like a deathmatch level where it's really all about, you know, [Steve smiles deviously] blowing up the catwalk so the guy falls to his death and that kind of thing, but we'll also have some more traditional gameplay.

Steve played throught a bit more of the level, taking out some enemies on foot while avoiding their fire. One couldn't help but notice how fast his character seemed to be moving, and it was all very smooth. I also noticed some of the enemies dodging, which brought me to BeyondUnreal's next question:

BeyondUnreal: What specific changes have been made to dodging and movement? Are wall kicks or dodge-jumps going to be removed?

Steve Polge: All the movement abilities from UT2004 are still there. So you've got double-jump, you still have dodge-jump: The biggest thing we've done is fine tuning and tweaking the existing movement to get it exactly how we want. We'll be in the hallway after a play session arguing about whether the jump higher should be 4 units heigher or whatever. But the biggest change is really that we've increased the feel of gravity. And that makes the world feel a little more solid and less floaty. What it ends up doing is, while you still have all those movements, they're not quite as dramatic. You're not feeling like you're floating through the air. What we're trying to do in our play sessions is perfect the combat. We also do a lot of play sessions of UT and UT2004 and kind of compare where we're going and if we're happy with the changes we're making. You still have all those things a good player can take advantage of. By reducing the amplitude of the dodgeing movements, the fighting is more controlled in a way that allows the it to be more "in your face," closer and more personal, and that's really one of the things we're going for.

BeyondUnreal: Speaking about "up close and personal," what are the plans for melee combat in UT2007? Will the shield gun be returning or will we see something different?

Steve Polge: We're going back to the impact hammer. [Steve smiles deviously, again]

BeyondUnreal: Will that have a secondary shield function on it like we saw in UT2004?

Steve Polge: It won't have a shield function, but it will have some kind of secondary function that, ah, and we're still trying to figure that out, whether it's a deflection kind of thing like we had in the original UT, or we've had some other ideas that haven't been finalized. We won't have any melee weapons like UC2, really we look at those as kind of different branches of the Unreal family. With UC2 we wanted more of a console friendly, fighter/shooter combo, but this game is more traditional deathmatch with of course, the addition of vehicles.