Thief’s redesigned combat lets you “get the f*ck out”. Old fighting tested but “doesn’t work”

Thief ps4 e3 screens

Thief project lead Stephane Roy has been explaining more about the PS4 stealth game’s new combat. The bullet-time, QTE-based system is one of the biggest departures from the series’ canon but according to Roy it was changed after playtest feedback that the old swordplay, “didn’t work”.

Thief’s combat redesigned to let you, “get the f*ck out”

Roy says the combat was a big challenge for Eidos Montréal. Early in development the studio playtested the old game’s original style of more direct fighting. “A lot of people, a menagerie of people, told us okay, ‘it doesn’t work. Ten years later, that type of gameplay doesn’t work’, said Roy. “I don’t know if you remember with the previous game? Let’s say I’ve been detected; it was really, really tough to survive. You know? It was unforgiving. Game over”.

Thief E3 PS4 screens

The challenge for the PS4 reboot according to Roy, then became how to, “give me something to protect myself”. The problem however is that Garrett is, “a master thief: he’s not a soldier, not a killer”. It meant the team had to create something that let you fight back but without overpowering the character. Or as Roy puts it: “How do we design something [so] that you will feel you can protect yourself, but at the same time I don’t want to see you going into the middle of the garden, into the light, and [unsheathing sword sound] “come on, man!”. That, says Roy unsurprisingly, doesn’t work either.

That’s the reasoning behind the new combat design is proposed as “a fair balance”. Instead of spam-swinging a dagger about, it’s now a case of: “Don’t try to kill them, just try to push them or make sure they are disabled. Don’t finish the job, just get the fuck out”. It’s a better representation of the fact that Garret isn’t a killer. Roy does add a caveat to the newly revealed system: “we still have to polish, honestly,” and the new combat still needs, “work”.

“Don’t try to kill them, just try to
push them or make sure they
are disabled & get the fuck out!”

The important thing is that it’s now not a “game over” situation if you make a mistake but neither are you a one man death machine clearing a level of guards  The change says Roy is simply a sign of gameplay progress. “How we used to play games ten years ago and how we play games today is different. So that’s why we are supporting this new way to play”.