At a recent preview event in EA's UK offices, Visceral Games showed off a new build of Dead Space 3 with new content and plenty of fresh information about the game.
I also had the chance to go hands-on with the E3 demo for the first time, including playing the game in its controversial co-op mode. At the moment, Dead Space 3 in co-op feels like two single-player games running in tandem, with Carver functioning as a mirror of Isaac. They both shoot the same guns, use the same abilities and stand side-by-side blasting away the same glowing orange spots on the bad guy. There are tactical moments - when going up against that giant drill we saw in the E3 demo, I chose to take out the Necromorphs while my partner battled the spinning whirlygig - but even at this early stage you feel like Visceral Games might be missing a trick not being more adventurous.
Imagine, for instance, that telekinesis was changed in co-op so that only one of the duo could use it and it they had to remain still to hold it in place. The other player would have to do the shooting while the first did his best to keep the bosses and malfunctioning machinery in stasis, which could make for some tense and exciting co-op encounters. That would be a very different game to what we currently have, which feels a bit like two people playing the single-player game together.
Much of the new content on show, however, played out to a far more familiar pace to Dead Space fans. Here's what's new:
- The sequence shown took place on a military ship at the start of Chapter 2.
- Isaac is here to search for clues for the Necromorph infestation, and heads to the Tesla room to investigate.
- The monsters in this section are classic Necromorph Slashers, as opposed to the faster variants seen in the E3 demo. We also see the return of the Lurker. There are no Necromorphs holding guns or wearing snow suits in this part of the game, basically.
- The aim of Dead Space 3 is to be both dispersed and diverse, featuring hub areas to explore alongside linear paths that funnel you through traditional action. Certain chunks of the game will only be accessible if you play in co-op with a friend.
- Isaac is talking to a woman named Santos over his radio, and he has now become the voice of calm and reassurance in the game - he's now the one telling people that it's going to be okay.
- The ship, with its causeways, power failures and encoded radio messages, could easily be mistaken for the Ishimura - this chapter of the game is clearly attempting to be more like the original games than the action-packed E3 demo we have already seen.
- Isaac is required to solve one simple puzzle in the demo, where he must switch on a circuit by adding the right mix of power from various sources.
- Radio messages reveal that this spooky ship has had its own Unitologist conspiracy brewing.
- A new Necromorph type shown was the Swarm Infector, which scurry across the floor in a pack and reanimate any corpses they stumble upon. They're almost impossible to shoot.
Dead Space 3 will be released for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC in February 2013.