If there’s any game series that’s synonymous with PlayStation, it’s Wipeout. This fast-paced combat racer has appeared on every single PlayStation console, and now it’s preparing to make the jump to PS Vita with Wipeout 2048. We recently interviewed producer Michael Pulst, who gave us a tour of the new control options (front and rear touchscreen as well as motion controls), gameplay refinements, and multiplayer support between PS Vita and PS3. Read on for highlights from our interview.
PlayStation.Blog: What are longtime fans likely to notice first about Wipeout 2048 on PS Vita?
Michael Pulst, Assistant Producer: We’ve made the tracks a little bit wider. Wipeout has always been known for its intense, hardcore racing; in the past games, you were not only fighting the other players but you’re also fighting the track. It was so hardcore that it actually turned some people off. It was a barrier to entry, and the team recognized this. By making the tracks a bit wider, you’re able to concentrate more on the race and fighting off the other players.
But because Studio Liverpool has been making Wipeout for years and years, they understand its core gameplay extremely well. So even though it’s a little bit easier in terms of its difficulty curve, this is very much Wipeout to its core.
PSB: Tell me about the tiered racetracks. How many paths are there on the tracks in Wipeout 2048?
MP: Not only do we have multiple vertical levels on some tracks, we have multiple track paths. In one of tracks, Sol, you’re racing down a skyscraper — it’s extremely fun. At one junction, you can either break to the left or the right; if you go left, you’ll get six speed pads before you reconnect with the main path. If you go to the right, you pick up items and weapons that might let you take out the racers who took the left path. So it adds a bigger strategy because you can choose your approach. If you suck at taking tight, twisty turns, you’ll learn to take alternate routes that tend to be less direct but offer speed pads or item pickups.
PSB: Have there been any tweaks to item pickups or weapon functionality?
MP: In previous Wipeout games, there was one item pickup pad that offered both offensive and defensive items. In 2048, the item pads are split up between offensive and defensive, so you can be a bit more strategic. If you’re in first place, you can focus on picking up items that are useful to you.
PSB: Wipeout 2048 uses almost all of PS Vita’s hardware functions. Tell us how 2048 taps into PS Vita’s hardware.
MP: For starters, we support the motion controls — you can tilt to the left or right to steer. I like steering this way at times, particularly in the cockpit camera view. The thing with motion controls is that they’re extremely accurate, which can be a double-edged sword at times. But I guarantee that by the time you take the third lap in the game, it’ll click.
We also support the rear touchscreen for acceleration, while the front touchscreen is used for firing and regaining ship energy. What’s great is that we support hybrid control schemes, so if you’d rather use the X button for acceleration, you can. You can use any combination of tilting, buttons, and touch to control the game. We don’t force you into one specific control scheme.
PSB: And how does PS Vita’s camera tie into the multiplayer mode?
MP: We support up to eight players online. When you begin the race on PS Vita, the game takes a photo of your face. At the end of the race, your face gets beamed to all the other players — kind of a glory moment!
PSB: Perhaps the most technically impressive feature is the crossplay support with the PS3 version of Wipeout HD Fury. What are my options in terms of crossplay?
MP: Not only will PS Vita players be able to play 2048 with other PS Vita players, they will be able to play Wipeout HD against PS3 players using Wipeout HD tracks and ships. And the number of PS Vitas and PS3s doesn’t matter for crossplay. It can be seven PS3s and one PS Vita, seven PS Vitas and one PS3, or any number in between.
There are so many people who own Wipeout HD, so you get immediate access to that community and you can experience tracks and a gameplay style that’s unique. When you’re playing Wipeout HD cross-play on PS Vita, you are able to use motion controls and touchscreen features as well, if you like.