Homefront: The Revolution Interview - It's Never Sunny in Philadelphia

Lee Bradley

Homefront: The Revolution was announced earlier this week with an explosive announcement trailer. Developed by Crytek UK, the game promises guerrilla-style crafting and first-person shooting within an open-world Philadelphia. We’ve seen it in action and it looks great. You can read our thoughts through here.

Following the demo we also had the chance to sit down with Fasahat Salim, one of the game designers at Crytek UK. Fasahat took the time to explain what the game’s all about and why he was so happy when it was decided that Homefront: the Revolution would coming to next-gen consoles only.

So Homefront: The Revolution. You’ve been working on it for about two years, is that right?

Yes. Well we’ve been working on it for three years. Initially THQ came to us to work on the next Homefront and we worked on that for about a year, until the whole THQ thing happened (THQ went bust in 2012), at which point we acquired the rights for Homefront and it’s been two years since.

Can you give me a broad overview of what the game is, please?

Homefront: The Revolution is a first-person shooter set in a dystopian Philadelphia. It’s set four years after the first Homefront, so it’s now a mature occupation. The KPA are ruling America with an iron fist, and they’ve set up their capitol in Philadelphia, which is a signal of intent on their part. Philadelphia is the birthplace of US independence, so for the KPA to set up their capitol there it signifies the fall of America and the rise of Korea. 

It’s in this universe that you play as Ethan Brady. You’re basically an average, everyday guy. You find yourself on a journey to become a resistance fighter, trying to spark a revolution against the Koreans. So that’s basically the basis of Homefront: the Revolution.

Tell me about the game’s world.

So we call it a ‘free roam world’. We’ve got Philadelphia as a city, we’ve got no loading screens. This is one big Philadelphia. The idea is, Philadelphia has been broken down into different zones and some of the fiction behind it is they don’t have enough manpower to police the whole city, so they are trying to push people into these ghettos that they have set up, called yellow zones. 

The Koreans are basically trying to get as many people as possible into these yellow zones, so that they can keep an eye on them. That’s where they’ve got their drones, they’ve got their watchtowers, cameras… for them it’s easier for them to control the population when they’re confined to these places. We’ve got several different yellow zones in Philadelphia and each of them has its own unique feel, it’s own identity, its own personality. So within the yellow zones there’s a lot of variety.

Apart from that we’ve also got the red zones. The red zones are the badlands, the wastelands, just like bombed out row houses. This is the neglected part of Philadelphia, where the KPA doesn’t want you to be. And this is where a lot of the expansive Philadelphia open world comes. It feels very different and it is very different to the yellow zones, it’s completely neglected.

And then we’ve got the green zones, which is where the KPA have set up their headquarters, their housing… these are actually the landmarks of the city that they’ve converted into their own opulent houses. It’s where they call home, it’s safe for them. This is all within Philadelphia, and all of these districts and zones are unique, so there’s a lot for the player to explore. 

So the KPA has all the high-tech equipment - drones and tanks and all that stuff. The resistance's kit is more cobbled together. What can you tell me about the stuff you’ll be fighting with?

The idea is that the resistance cannot go head to head against the KPA. They have far superior tech. So the resistance have to make do with what they can find in the world. The idea is that the player is going to explore the world and scavenge as much as he can, and through these scavenged items he can craft his own weapons and build his own equipment. We call it the ‘Guerrilla Toolkit’ and these are all things that the player can take to the fight against the KPA. 

You can create things like improvised explosive devices, remote control cars, distraction devices. There’s a whole bunch of stuff you can make from the things you find. Scavenging is a massive part of what Homefront: the Revolution is about. We really wanted to showcase what it means to be a guerrilla fighter who is completely underwhelming when it comes to weaponry. You have to improvise to create some sort of fight, otherwise you’ve no chance.

It seems like you’ve gone to a lot of effort to make the city feel as real as possible.

Our world is an evolving Philadelphia. It’s living it’s breathing. Through the power of the CryEngine, which is the very powerful engine that we use, we’ve managed to create a lot of cool systems running behind the scenes. One of them is emergent AI System, which allows us to populate the world with actual living, breathing civilians, that we have no control over and we don’t know how they’re going to behave. And it adds an interesting dynamic. Things will happen in the world whether you’re there or not. You don’t know how or when or why they’re happening. 

For example you might be attacking a police station, but in that scenario a skirmish might kick off, a skirmish between the resistance and the KPA. And that could completely change the dynamics of that mission. It might distract some of the guards that you were going to go through, pulling them into the skirmish and opening up the way for you to sneak through without anyone noticing. 

Alternatively you could get involved with the skirmish and it could get worse - maybe more KPA turn up - so that changes the dynamics of that situation. These are just some examples of how the AI could completely change your experience, not only in missions but in the world. Your experience could be completely different to mine, simply because of these random things that happen. It’s a very powerful AI system that we have built.

With the emergent environment and its openness, I’m reminded of Far Cry. It’s a different type of world, completely, but it shares some qualities. Is that a fair assessment?

That’s what we were trying to go for. The original Far Cry. The original Homefront was criticised for being very linear, you couldn’t deviate from the path that was set for you. We wanted to break free of that. We wanted to try a create a world where the player can experience the world however they want, whenever they want. 

So that was one of the principles that we at Crytek put into place for a lot of the games we’ve worked on. So in Far Cry we put players in the situation where they have an objective, but we let them go about it however they want. We’re not going to tell them how to do it. That was the same case with Crysis too. Players weren’t hand held through scenarios, they would survey a situation, asses it, and attack it according to the equipment at their disposal and the amount of guards in the area or whatever.

That’s pretty much the formula that we wanted to take from those games and put them in the Homefront universe. We think it works really well, especially along with the guerrilla warfare aspect of the gameplay. It’s interesting and helps it stand out. It’s very exciting for us.

So you’ve borrowed the context from the original Homefront. Will there be any narrative tie-ins beyond that in Homefront: the Revolution?

There isn’t really, no. This is a fresh game, it’s a new location. We are in the same universe. That was something that we wanted to keep, because it’s a very interesting space. We wanted to take it and add to it with our own ideas and the technology we have at our disposal. 

The game has four player co-op, right?

We have a four-player co-op mode. It’s a separate world. That’s all we’re talking about when it comes to multiplayer. So we’ve got a four-player co-op mode which is a world full of missions and we’ve got four players that can share that world and either do their own thing or come together to do missions, to influence the world in their own right.

And it’s next-gen only. A lot of people will be excited about that. There’s a growing frustration with cross-gen releases holding next-gen back.

We were celebrating it as well. Mainly because, for us, for what we’re trying to do with this game, the scale at which we’re trying to operate, the systems that we have in place - such as the emergent AI system and the dynamic weather and day/night cycles - these are all things that we… if we want to get them running as best we can and get a steady 30fps, we needed the power of the next-gen consoles. 

If we had the previous generation of consoles as well, it would be a lot more work and a lot more difficult for us to hit the same standards that we expect from a Crytek game. So for us it was a significant decision and a good decision to just focus on next-gen and PC. It was good news.

Homefront: The Revolution hits Xbox One and PlayStation 4 next year.

  • Wait, I'm lost. What's this game got to do with Moosh's avatar again?
  • Finally a next gen only game about time maybe now I won't feel like I shouldn't have gotten rid of my ps3 for a ps4........this is shaping up to be a day one buy for me :)
  • I've played this game a hundred times.
  • @3 Play the first one and then comment.
  • @4: Because the first one was anything special? It was just your generic CoD-clone. A generic silent (I think) hero unable to open doors by his own, a strong leader figure which looked remarkably like Sgt. "Soap" Tavish, I cheesy pathetically patriotic story, bland interchangeable enemies, your obligatory missions featuring a special weapon, vehicular combat and stealth (*cough*) ... on second thought, scratch the "generic" - it copied the Modern Warfare formula to the tee but missed to give it a soul. The only redeeming feature about the original Homefront was the MP. But that was to be expected with Kaos behind it.
  • Forget this game the 1st wasn't that great. Even though it was another developer and Crytek UK will most definitely make this game better. However, Crytek UK why not develop TimeSplitters 4. Where is TimeSplitters 4? Its been 9 years since Future Perfect.
  • Idk the first homefront was a fucking catastrophe, im going to wait till I see more details, maybe crytek can save a broken name.
  • @ #4 I did play it, it was terrible. What now?
  • "Our world is an evolving Philadelphia. It’s living it’s breathing. Through the power of the CryEngine, which is the very powerful engine that we use, we’ve managed to create a lot of cool systems running behind the scenes. One of them is emergent AI System, which allows us to populate the world with actual living, breathing civilians, that we have no control over and we don’t know how they’re going to behave. And it adds an interesting dynamic. Things will happen in the world whether you’re there or not. You don’t know how or when or why they’re happening." Heard that one before, I'll believe it when I see it.
  • The first game was gash, generic sp that took less than 4hrs on hardest difficulty and the mp was just a poormans battlefield with no destruction. Will wait and see with this one, must admit it sounds alot better
  • fdh
  • once i seen the word "US" i thought fuck that shit.
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