We Talk Homefront: The Revolution With Producer David Stenton

We Talk Homefront: The Revolution With Producer David Stenton

David Stenton, the producer of the upcoming game, Homefront: The Revolution from Deep Silver (publisher) and Dambuster Studios (developer) was recently in town to promote the game ahead of its May 20th launch in Australia. We had the opportunity to sit down and chat with him about the impending title, and given it is a title that I am very excited about personally, I was eager to hear what he had to say.

For those that are unfamiliar with Homefront: The Revolution, here is a short synopsis:

Homefront: The Revolution is a reboot of the IP that first launched back in 2011 and is set in the future-dystopian and open-world city of Philadelphia in 2029. You play as Ethan Brady – a member of the outgunned and undermanned Resistance that is taking the fight to its oppressors, the Korean People’s Army (KPA), who invaded and took control over most of the nation four years earlier.

Features (taken from the official site):

  • Explore a living, breathing open world – experience true open world gameplay in a first person shooter, brought to life with astonishing CRYENGINE-powered visuals
  • Wage Guerrilla Warfare – this is no linear shooter; learn the art of guerrilla warfare and use ambush, infiltration and hit and run tactics against your foe in thrilling un-scripted firefights
  • Build the Resistance – recruit revolutionaries to the cause, establish bases and safehouses, capture and customise a deadly arsenal, and build improvised, homebrew weapons for your Guerrilla Tool Kit
  • Ignite the Revolution – from oppressed citizen to revolutionary leader, an epic single-player campaign tells the story of the second War of Independence. The dynamic, evolving world responds to your actions as an oppressed nation rises up in defiance against the occupation
  • Online Co-Op – take the battle online, form a Resistance Cell with your friends and earn your reputation as Heroes of the Revolution.

DYEGB: The original Homefront was developed by Kaos Studios. Is anyone from that dev team working on Homefront: The Revolution?

DS: No, we are a completely separate team here at Dambuster Studios in the UK.

DYEGB: Do you think it’s easier developing a game with a concept/premise already in place (KPA invading USA) and building around that? Or developing a game from the ground up, concept and all?

DS: The Homefront IP was acquired specifically because it gives several very positive benefits – it has a very compelling premise of fighting in your own backyard, defending your home and the familiar having turned “alien”. North Korean occupying forces are a main pillar of the fiction too but we did want to take the opportunity to have another look at the back story to make it more plausible. In that sense taking the Homefront IP forward gives us a great springboard. However, we really wanted to take the majority of the game in a different direction and so we made the Homefront: The Revolution open world, creating an eco-system of civilians and KPA interacting with one another. So much of Homefront: The Revolution is different, and so in essence we have developed a brand new game from the ground up.

DYEGB: Was there any point during the Crytek/Deep Silver transition that you thought this game might not see the light of day?

DS: No, we have always had strong backing and although the timelines have shifted we maintained our course to develop the game that we really wanted to make.

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DYEGB: The recent beta received some less than positive comments. Why was the decision made to release an older build of the game? Surely Deep Silver / Dambuster were aware to some of the beta builds quality issues? And what do you say to those that believe DS/DBS are merely doing damage control by saying it was an older build?

DS: There is a definite trend nowadays of releasing almost complete “demo” versions of games as betas. This does make it very difficult to properly serve an important function of a multiplayer beta, which is to get extended world wide testing on network infrastructure such that issues can be fixed for launch. You simply cannot achieve the volume and distribution of players needed using other means. From a technical point of view it is very beneficial to do these tests as early as you reasonably can to give plenty of time to resolve problems.

Having said that we do not exist in a vacuum and we are well aware that the build we distributed was lacking in polish and many months from release – to us that was an obvious part of the beta. There were clear disclaimers that it was not final content. With the recent trend of betas it is difficult to manage development needs with recent expectations. We are also pushing a very different pace and style of FPS gameplay with Homefront: The Revolution, and this does not necessarily communicate to consumers who may have download the beta expecting an FPS of the type they are already familiar with.

We would not repeat the experience in quite the same way again, but the BETA was never intended to reflect the final retail game quality and is clearly more polished now, as expected. It’s also worth pointing out that Resistance Mode sits as a sister component to a very significant open world, single player game.

DYEGB: Do the teams at DS and DBS listen to some of these criticisms and take them on board? For example one of my main gripes was not being able to crouch or exit crouch when in camera/smartphone mode. Are these issues that can be easy fixed at this stage of the game’s development?

DS: We absolutely take them on board! We wanted as much constructive feedback as we could get. Resistance Mode is very much an on-going live game post-launch, so we will be releasing free additional content, events and patches for at least one year. We will be looking closely at constructive feedback and continuing to work with the community on an ongoing basis.

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Homefront is game full of depth, strategy and many facets for players to learn. We are very confident that the more time players spend actually immersing themselves in the game and familiarising themselves with it, the more they will come to appreciate its differences.

DYEGB: The multiplayer (MP) mode in The Revolution is very different to that of the original. Why did the team decide to go in a different direction MP wise?

DS: It is all part of us pushing to do something different with Homefront: The Revolution. There is little sense in going over the well-trodden ground of PVP FPS games – players are already very well served there. For Homefront: The Revolution we have put a great deal of effort into our open world and ensuring that the resistance are the underdogs in an inherently asymmetric matchup with the KPA. It makes perfect sense within this context to team up with three friends and battle the KPA in exciting “distilled” mission scenarios. 

The emphasis is very much on the difficulty, character progression and striving to both complete the missions and upgrade your character and gear.

DYEGB: From what I’ve played (the betas) the Resistance Mode requires solid team work to complete. Were there ever any plans to make the campaign MP? If so, why did the team decide to go with a single-player only campaign?

DS: There were never any plans to make the campaign co-operative. The campaign is about the story of Ethan Brady and everything is setup to totally immerse the player within that role, including the storytelling.

In co-op you very much create your own custom roster of characters and engage in mission entirely separate from single player. It was a purposeful decision not to blur those lines.

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DYEGB: Your decision to make Resistance Mode missions free has won some praise among gamers. The current trend is for devs/publishers to include an adequate amount of content in the base game then bundle the rest up and sell it to gamers via DLC or a season pass. Why did DS/ DBS decide to make Resistance Mode missions free for all?

DS: Homefront is game full of depth, strategy and many facets for players to learn. We are very confident that the more time players spend actually immersing themselves in the game and familiarising themselves with it, the more they will come to appreciate its differences. We hope word of mouth will be a very positive factor in describing Homefront and to that end it makes perfect sense that we encourage players keep returning to the game, reward them for their dedication but also not to divide our community with paid multiplayer content. We want to build up and bolster a very positive community experience around Homefront: The Revolution and this is a great way to do that.

DYEGB: The first-person shooter market is dominated by both Call of Duty and Battlefield. Although Homefront appears more story-driven than the aforementioned, what can you take from some of the genre’s bigger guns (pun intended) to improve the Homefront experience?

DS: We prefer to focus on our points of difference. There is a great deal to admire about Call of Duty and Battlefield – gamers are well served in those aspects. We have put a great deal of effort into giving a very different experience. We have a significant single player open world story, with a good amount of depth, RPG mechanics and a feeling of vulnerability but also retaining action FPS gameplay.

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DYEGB: One aspect I did like in the beta was the level of difficulty. The notion is that hard has become the new normal etc…however, Homefront: TR on hard felt hard. Is this something that DBS have done deliberately to make the game more of a challenge? How hard (pun) is it to get the right the balance in regards to difficulty levels?

DS: Yes we wanted Homefront: The Revolution to be challenging. You are a resistance fighter, not a super soldier. You need to engage your brain to survive otherwise you will be outgunned and overwhelmed. This is where the games many depths come in to play – Homefront has quite a unique gameplay style associated with it which is very rewarding.

Our difficulty levels are named Recruit, Hardened and Deathwish. Hardened is our equivalent of Normal, so you can see where we are going with this….

DYEGB: You’re releasing HF:TR on five different platforms. Most devs don’t develop for Linux or Mac, why have DBS chosen to go down this route? Does this cause any issues or cutbacks (ie graphical downgrades) on other platforms?

DS: No compromises at all on the other platforms, mainly because they are not all in development for the same release date. In May 2016 we are releasing for PC, Xbox One and PS4 – other platforms will follow later.

DYEGB: DBS have mentioned previously that HF:TR will feature a 30+ hour campaign. How do you ensure that the missions stay fresh and don’t become monotonous?

DS: We have a good variety of open world locations and districts to explore within Philadelphia, some really cool story moments, and not to mention that the game world visibly evolves around you in relation to your actions. It is very rewarding seeing the civilians rise up against the KPA and how this changes the environment and gameplay opportunities.

DYEGB: Thank you for your time David.  I wish you and your team all the best with the launch of Homefront: The Revolution and I look forward to playing it upon release.

Thank you. Don’t forget, Homefront: The Revolution launches in the Australia on May 20th!

David made an excellent point regarding the current trend of betas. A lot of the more recent betas have been next to near finished versions of those games (The Division, Battleborn and Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst). I played the beta for Homefront: The Revolution and even though it lacked a little polish in certain areas, the gameplay, story and game-world were enough to convince me to be hyped for the final product. Plus, we need a decent single-player, story-driven FPS as we haven’t had one since Wolfenstein: The New Order. I have faith that Homefront: The Revolution can be that game.

Don’t forget that if you want to experience Homefront: The Revolution with your very own replica Goliath drone, you can pre-order the extravagant Goliath Edition through EB Games. Only PS4 editions remain available. 

Otherwise take a look at the game’s opening cinematic, America Has Fallen:

Currently studying a Masters of Communications, Zach paradoxically finds himself writing about video games more than actually playing them. He’s one-half of the musical project, the midnight bloom and an avid Chicken Wing Enthusiast that supports the San Jose Sharks, Carlton and Burnley FC. Get around him on Twitter @TightInTheJorts

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