Do you know what Brink is? The reason we ask, is because there isn’t too much hype surrounding the game. And by “too much,” we mean hardly any. There are a few fan sites that have popped up, but most of them are outdated and have since been abandoned. For those unfamiliar, Brink is a first person shooter developed by Splash Damage and published by Bethesda that takes a solid free-run mechanic and a lot of customization to create a new breed of first-person shooter.
Despite the lack of hype out in the “real world,” looking at the lines and hype involved at PAX East, you would think the game is as anticipated in the mainstream as much as games like Gears of War 3 and L.A. Noire. “It is insane!” said Ed Stern, Lead Writer of Brink. “We’re here at PAX East and yesterday the organizers made us shorten the queue because it was a six-hour wait! I don’t know if you’ve noticed but there are other games on show here as well! [...] It’s like, ‘You know that Brink is the only game we’re showing here! Are you sure you want to wait in line this long? Yeah? Alright!’”
On the surface, Brink looks to just contribute to the background noise that has all but taken over the game industry: the first person shooter genre. Conceptually, however, the game is very different and looks to innovate the popular genre beyond anything we’ve seen in recent history. It all seems to stem from the notion of where Splash Damage started with this game, and really, with their roots as a company in general. “We started with a very, very blank sheet of paper, indeed,” said Stern. “We sat there, thought deep and looked at it for a good couple of hours before anything came up! Splash Damage… over in London, we started off as a mod-team actually. So we reach kind of the PC or hardcore first person shooter, which is great and we love that, but things have really changed! In the last five years we’ve seen, partly due to hardware, partly due to the internet connection, also just game designers just getting better at making the games, [...] millions and millions of console gamers playing online and having an awesome time!”
Going beyond the conceptualization of the game itself, the game looks to incorporate various different ideas from other genres into the overall scheme of a solid first-person shooter. “We’ve got our gameplay,” Stern said. “We’ve got our S.M.A.R.T. system [which gives players the ability to perform parkour type of moves]. We’ve got a really solid [shooter], because if it’s no fun as a shooter, it doesn’t matter what else happens. But we’ve also got this, frankly MMO-depth of player customization, then we’ve also got an RPG-depth of skills and abilities as well.”
Stern recognizes that the genre’s single-player campaigns seem to suffer from a lack of replayability, so Splash Damage has decided to do something about it. “What it’s all about is replay value,” said Stern. “It’s like ‘I’ve already played this map before,’ but you’ve only played it in one side! There’s these two separate storylines: Security and Resistance. We’ve got this one map called ‘Container City.’ It’s kind of a rusting [bunch] of shipping containers falling into the sea. If you play that map for the first time as part of the Security storyline, you’ll hear ‘men, I’m sorry to ask you to do this. I know you didn’t sign up to kick down the doors of civilians, but we’ve got credible intel that there’s a bio-weapon lab in there. You’ve got to secure the bio-weapon.’ You’ll think ‘okay! That’s what that mission is about.’ You’ll get through to playing it on the Resistance side and your commander will say ‘they’re coming into our homes and they’re trying to steal our vaccine!’ So clearly that [adds a new the dynamic of] Security are attacking and Resistance are defending. It’s not just that though, the map means something different now… the whole mission means something different. So maybe you’ve played that thing twice now. Why would you ever want to play that thing again? Because you’ve unlocked new abilities now! It [...] totally transforms the way I’m going to do those objectives.”
Something that should interest most players that follow the first-person shooter market, is that whatever platform you choose to play the title on, you will have an experience that is very much uniformed with the other versions of the game. “We’re making all three versions ourselves in-house,” Stern said. “There’s no lead platform. I’m sure you’ve played a game and you’ve thought ‘you know, this is not the machine this game was designed for.’ We give equal love to all three of them; same engine, same assets. [...] Essentially, it’s a completely rewritten Doom 3 engine… it’s actually the same engine we used for our Lost game, just reconfigured completely!”
Brink will hit shelves on May 17th and will be available on the PC, Playstation 3, and Xbox 360. Can’t get enough of Brink? Check out the next part of our interview with Ed Stern of Splash Damage, where he talks about decreasing the learning curve and increasing the fun-factor.