New Sony hardware = New WipEout.
Everyone’s favourite unforgiving, pulsating and adrenaline fuelled futuristic racer returns next month in the shape of WipEout 2048, bulking up Playstation Vita’s already impressive launch line up and all the while reaffirming itself as one of brand Playstation’s most important and consistent flagship franchises. WipEout is back and somehow impossibly, it’s better than ever.
TGL sat down with Studio Liverpool’s lead designer on 2048 Karl Jones to talk about the WipEout philosophy, the possibilities inherent with the Vita hardware and why 2048 is the best WipEout yet.
Here we go…..
TGL: What is the WipEout philosophy and how is it retained and put to work in WipEout 2042 on Vita?
Karl Jones: The main thing that we wanted to get right with the partnership of Vita and WipEout 2048 was speed. I think we’ve absolutely nailed that with 2048. If you look at the game, especially its frame rate, it’s incredibly fast. When you first start off with 2048, we’ve tried not to overwhelm the player that much. So you actually don’t start off that fast. We try to ease the player into the eventual high speed that they will have to get used to. That kind of philosophy is something we’ve used a lot in this game. We ease you in with everything. Before 2048, every iteration of WipEout would just smack you in the face with speed from the start. It was a case of adapt or die. However, this time we’re going to accommodate people a lot more at the start before we ramp up the speed. Before you know it, you’ll reach the kind of high speeds that WipEout fans are already accustomed to. In saying that, this is our fastest WipEout to date. Speed is something I think we’ve got covered with 2048.
Another important ingredient is music. It’s another part of WipEout DNA and I think it’s something we’ve perfected on Vita with 2048. The Chemical Brothers are in there. So too are The Prodigy. We’ve never let our guard down when it comes to music. We’ve always been cutting edge when it comes to sound. Even back in the early days on the original Playstation, we were ahead of the pack.
And finally, visuals are important. It wouldn’t be WipEout if it didn’t look amazing. I hope you’ll agree that it looks amazing on Vita. We have some incredible artists at Studio Liverpool and I really don’t know how they do the amazing things they do. When you look at the latest build of the game, it looks ridiculous. I think we’re one of the best looking titles on Vita.
It’s also worth noting that, in terms of gameplay, this is probably the most different WipEout we’ve ever done. We’ve taken a look at everything and we’ve taken a few risks with 2048. But I think they’ve paid off for us. It’s a team effort in every sense. If I was working on this by myself, as the lead designer, 2048 would probably be a classic traditional WipEout game. It basically probably would have been a sequel to WipEout HD with no real risks taken as such. However, because we have an incredible team with so many different interests, we have so many great ideas pushing to the top on Vita. We have guys who worked on Gran Turismo and MotorStorm come in and they brought new ideas to the table. I was reluctant at first because I’m really old school WipEout. Now, for example, we’ve widened the tracks up to allow for more combat and give more the options to the players other than trying to avoid hitting the walls. It gives the player more scope. We’ve also split the weapon pads up on the tracks. Instead of a red only pad, now we have a green and a yellow pad. The green pads offer more defensive weapons like shields and mines. If you go with yellow then you get more offensive weapons like missiles and machine gun fire. Now instead of just weapon pad and speed pad, you have offensive weapon pad, defensive weapon pad and speed pad.
We’ve also spent a bit of time on skill cuts. They’re kind of like short cuts on tracks that allow you to take seconds of your track time. However, they take a bit of getting used to and only the most skilful will actually master them. They’re tricky to access and tricky to navigate. There’s a risk associated with them. They’re like tracks within tracks.
TGL: Why chose Vita for the next WipEout? Why not stick to the Playstation 3?
KJ: Studio Liverpool has always been great when it comes to utilising new hardware. Once we saw what Vita could do, we wanted to have a WipEout on it at launch. We weren’t quite with the PS3 at launch but we were one of the first triple A titles on PSN when we finally made it out. We were one of the first to bring such high production values to the Network. We were also one of the first to make our game run at 1080p and 60fps. We’re really proud of that. Vita allows us to achieve similar things on new hardware. That and we also have cross platform play between 2048 on Vita and WipEout HD on PS3. It’s full cross platform play in every sense of the word. PS3 players can play Vita players on whatever hardware you have.
We’re always thinking about what we can do on Sony hardware. 2048 is our first attempt on Vita. The sheer power of Vita is ridiculous for a handheld. What Sony have done is incredible. It’s like a home console. WipEout looks amazing on it. I think 2048 is the best looking WipEout we’ve ever done, even better than WipEout HD on PS3. All of this and that’s before we talk about Vita’s unique features like the touch screen, the cameras and the track pad. We’ve tried to exploit these features as much as we can.
KJ: I think it’s really important. I think with WipEout HD, we took it as far as we could. I think anything after that would have just been more of the same with bolted on additions. There was a danger of that happening at one stage. But with the new hardware in Vita and a bunch of new creative minds joining the team in Liverpool in the last few years, we’ve given the WipEout franchise a new energy it deserves. If it were me on my own, as I say, it probably would have been tried and tested WipEout that you’d be playing. This time, we haven’t shot down new ideas as such. We’ve really opened up our doors to new structured ideas without comprising what makes WipEout so great to begin with. We tried a lot of ideas with 2048, some we’ve kept and perfected, and others we’ve binned. I think this is the best WipEout yet.
TGL: How big is 2048, say by comparison to WipEout HD?
KJ: It’s a full game. It isn’t a filtered down experience. It will be available as a digital download but also as a cartridge at retail. In terms of scale, I think it’s the biggest game we’ve ever done for the franchise. The multiplayer campaign alone has taken QA weeks to finish. Even after that, there’s still many more boxes that can be ticked. It’s a very complete experience and we’re really proud of it. Apart from the multiplayer, we obviously have the single player and all the satellite events and races that take place around the single player. After that, we have ad hoc mode, cross platform play, leaderboards, a newsfeed and we’ve also utilised the “NEAR” feature which will allow players to leave a game gift of a ghost for other players to big up. We’re really trying to push all of Vita’s features.
TGL: Will you be supporting the game post launch with DLC and add-ons?
KJ: Yes. We have plans for DLC and we will make announcements relating to that once the game is out there.
WipEout 2048 will be available February 22nd alongside the launch of Playstation Vita
Read TGL’s Hands-On Impressions of WipEout 2048 right here