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Starhawk Campaign Hands-On: Wild Wild West

Sid Shuman's Avatar + Posted by Sid Shuman on Apr 13, 2012 // Senior Manager, Social Media

Though legions of bloodthirsty PSN warriors have plunged into Starhawk’s multiplayer beta, the single-player campaign has remained stubbornly cloaked in shadow. Until now: At a media event in New York City this week, Lightbox Interactive finally gave a peek under that cloak, showcasing a series of frantic battles and lush cinematic sequences from the game’s story-driven campaign. As Emmett Graves, an interstellar mercenary infected by a priceless but mutagenic resource dubbed “Rift energy,” you’ll use the game’s dramatic Build and Battle combat system to call down turrets, walls, vehicles and structures from outer space. Your objective is to defend the frontier town of White Sands from marauding Outcast invaders — including your Rift-possessed outlaw brother Logan.

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Starhawk’s Western-tinged story is told through lavishly illustrated cut-scenes that weave in and out of the gameplay, seamlessly connecting the action sequences and, better still, cutting between-mission load times to the bone. I sampled several minutes of the campaign and was pleased to discover a fast-paced yet strategic sandbox shooter that grants the player an unusually wide array of options. In one mission, Emmett’s partner Cutter directed me to commandeer a nearby tank in order to flush out several nearby mortar emplacements that threatened the town of White Sand. I demurred, preferring to remain on-foot and rely on my trusty laser-guided rocket launcher to peg the enemy vehicles from a distance. It was a somewhat foolish decision but I appreciated having a choice.

I wish I could detail everything I saw (hint: I saw an awful lot), but Lightbox Interactive is understandably sensitive about spoilers. Suffice it to say that the game’s campaign appears to be a meaty experience, serving up far more than a weak-kneed warm-up for the obligatory multiplayer modes. I spoke with Lightbox Interactive President Dylan Jobe to try and pry out details in advance of the game’s May 8th launch. And this is just the beginning — Jobe has even more to say in his interview on the latest PlayStation Blogcast. Read on and leave your questions in the comments!

PlayStation.Blog: Lightbox Interactive has been fairly secretive about Starhawk’s single-player campaign. What sparks Emmett Graves’ quest?
Dylan Jobe, President, Lightbox Interactive: It doesn’t start out as a quest for Emmett — it starts off as a job. Emmett is a Rift energy salvager, and he’s good at what he does. He and his partner Cutter go into the frontier, find claims that are under attack by the Outcast, and defend them.

But it just so happens that Emmett’s latest job is back on Dust, in his hometown of White Sands. And because Emmett and his brother Logan went separate ways many years ago – Logan to the Outcast, Emmett staying with humanity — Emmett takes the job in order to bring his outlaw brother to justice. The whole single-player game is about Emmett confronting his brother and protecting his hometown.

PSB: Starhawk’s Western themes seem to extend beyond the art direction – they’re much deeper than I expected.
DJ: The Western theme influenced not only the things you’d expect, like the visuals. It influenced the music composition, the structure of the narrative, the open vastness of the frontier, the expansion and building, the Gold Rush…even the intimate story between Emmett and his brother Logan. The Western themes seeped into all aspects of the game.

PSB: Starhawk’s campaign battles give the player an unusual amount of freedom. Have shooters become too cut-and-dried?
DJ: First and foremost, we want this game to be unique. The shooter genre is packed with mega-juggernaut great games, but shooters are also due for a twist. In most single-player shooters, you play a linear experience: event, event, event, set piece, event, event, event, set piece. With Starhawk, we wanted to give the player a combat challenge: Here’s what’s going to attack you, here’s when it’s going to attack you, and here are the tools you can use. Now play it however you want!

This approach is easier said than done because it introduces a lot of bugs during the design process, but it’s exciting because different players will stumble across many different strategies for success. You might love flying the Hawks and want to use them as many scenarios as possible, and that’s perfectly fine.

Starhawk for PS3

PSB: The co-op mode seems to push that sandbox philosophy as far as it will go. How does it work?
DJ: Co-op teams up you with up to three other players, and you’re defending a Rift claim. The system will randomize the encounters – say a wave of snipers or waves of different vehicles – and force you to adapt using the Build and Battle tools. Co-op is a fun way to play the game, but it also helps you learn how to defend your base in multiplayer, with the random encounters helping to simulate the randomness of humans you’ll fight online.

PSB: When I went hands-on with the campaign, I found myself battling enemies I never saw in the multiplayer mode – we’re talking radically different stuff here. I know you’re being tight-lipped, but what can you tell us?
DJ: In some respects, they’re similar to unit types you might find in an RTS game. You’ll encounter swarm-type characters, big brutes….they all have a different texture and impact the combat in different ways. I can’t go into a ton of detail, but I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the single-player, because you’ll find a ton of enemies and encounters you won’t find in multiplayer.

The campaign isn’t based on the multiplayer maps, either. This is a narrative-driven single-player experience, with unique maps and encounters all the way through the game. They range from small battles in the desert to huge space battles around capital ships to defending this huge space train to the epic confrontation with Logan — it’s quite diverse. A journalist I spoke with earlier watched me play two missions, and told me it was like two games worth of content. There are a lot of toys in this toolbox and you’re going to get your 60 bucks worth.

PSB: Rift energy is central to the game’s universe, it’s sort of like “blue gold.” But what is it, exactly?
DJ: There are hints about it, but we don’t want to pull a midichlorian [laughs]. You’ll learn more about the origins of Rift energy if you’re observant. But the important part is, Emmett is a ticking time bomb. He’s been infected by Rift energy and he’s wearing this regulator to buy time. His partner Cutter is trying to keep him from turning in an Outcast, but Emmett knows that some day he will turn. He’s effectively part human, part Outcast…and so he’s something of a dark hero, which is a classic component of Westerns.

//Add Your Own

61 Comments   6 Replies

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1

+ Tremulan777 on April 13th, 2012 at 9:58 am said:

Great info! I can’t wait to get my copy. First !!!


2

+ G-Force08 on April 13th, 2012 at 10:01 am said:

Ah, one of my most anticipated games of the year.

MP is a given, but I can’t wait to try out the single player as well!


3

+ LandmineSalesman on April 13th, 2012 at 10:19 am said:

YAWN* this should be a multiplayer only title on PSN for $30. Make it so!


4

+ Kane22_ on April 13th, 2012 at 10:28 am said:

ok not to be mean. but this doesn’t sound like a single player game at all. it seems like the single player is actually like unreal tournament 3 or brinks. heck you guys haven’t shown any other map except the first one what gives? I want an actual single player experience.not online dressed as single player that is stupid. i want to see actual gameplay of single player and not on the same map either.


5

+ ERC1980 on April 13th, 2012 at 10:28 am said:

Excellent, informative interview Sid!

co op sounds like it’ll be a tough challenge, but I look forward to that

no doubt Starhawk will be worth every penny!


    Sid Shuman's Avatar

     

    + Sid Shuman on April 13th, 2012 at 2:52 pm said:

    Glad you liked it! I was pleasantly surprised by the high level of production value.


6

+ TUSTIN1 on April 13th, 2012 at 10:33 am said:

I’m sick of this game and it hasn’t even been released yet.


7

+ MarinoBrea on April 13th, 2012 at 10:36 am said:

Are you going to market this game as God demands it or is it going to be another hail Mary?


8

+ stabbybizzle on April 13th, 2012 at 10:37 am said:

From what I saw from the recent demo of Harvard playing a single player level, the SP does not look very good.

I just don’t think you can take the gameplay & gunplay which has been built to work in a mutliplayer environment and just plop it into SP. It looks boring – nothing interesting.

Some games have brilliant single player AND multiplayer, such as Killzone 2. But KZ2′s multiplayer was close combat, and there were plenty of complex streets, buildings etc. to walk through. (KZ2 was also incredibly cinematic, I asked HBJ about whether Starhawk was cinematic a while ago and he said no)

Starhawk single player you’re just going to get a bunch of empty space! A requirement for B&B to be effective. I suppose horde mode might be fun.

I don’t think anyone will care about the SP once they see or play it, especially since the MP will be 100x better. Not saying I think it’s going to be terrible – like Brink terrible – but just nothing special at all.

(my opinion ^)


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    + Sid Shuman on April 13th, 2012 at 2:51 pm said:

    Thanks for sharing. But what I saw didn’t line up with the “empty space” mention at all. One of the missions I played was set in White Sands, and the town was bustling with structures and objects. I had to drop emplacements in the (limited) free space I could find in order to defend against the Outcast troops that came in.


9

+ La_maravich_22 on April 13th, 2012 at 11:28 am said:

Starhawk and Ghost Recon a most buy


10

+ FantasyAnimeGirl on April 13th, 2012 at 11:39 am said:

looks like an awesome game


11

+ Blkant on April 13th, 2012 at 11:51 am said:

Even though I really liked the MP, I have to say that the SP and co-op still actually interesting me more. The character, the world, everything just seems really interesting if done right, though my only concern is that it might seem to light weight, like a tournament styled bot mode tutorial for MP like the unreal tournament games (not insulting them, as its one of my favorite series still, just saying that the SP really was an AI driven MP).

I’m a bit concerned that it might lack the over all depth and immersive detail it seems to deserve, as well as the variety and constant exploration in abilities, weapons, vehicles etc… Did the game simply give you everything upfront or is there actual progression through the game? Was there more than what was seen in the MP to be used in SP? Do you simply go to an area like a level or do we get to actually explore a bit in/on the worlds? Is there more than just combat in the worlds or do we get to see towns and everyday life on them as well?


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    + Sid Shuman on April 13th, 2012 at 2:49 pm said:

    It’s definitely not a bot mode, far from it. There are tons of story updates coming in while you play, characters are living and dying, objectives are shifting…it looked to be promising indeed.


12

+ DROPGRAVY on April 13th, 2012 at 11:52 am said:

All the waiting is almost over,


13

+ DarkOne_PR on April 13th, 2012 at 12:06 pm said:

im a day one customer :) If i see the developers worked hard to create an awesome game its always day one.

Uncharted series are day one.
Resistance series (though they could have been better on the graphics department) was day one
Dark Souls/Demons souls Day one ( How about Demons Souls For the Vita??? AWESOME!!!!!)
GoW3 day one
Infamous day one
the list go on and on
games like naruto shippuden generations which i love but devs obviously didnt put much effort in innovating on the franchise well.. those games can wait.. :)


14

+ mistasmooth25 on April 13th, 2012 at 12:34 pm said:

I think I’m gonna have to get my hands on this game.


15

+ guitarded77 on April 13th, 2012 at 12:37 pm said:

Can’t wait to get the game!!! Too bad I have to end my boycott of GameStop to get the exclusive limited edition. That was pretty sorry of y’all to not offer the limited edition through other retailers… Amazon in particular.


16

+ rjejr on April 13th, 2012 at 12:38 pm said:

Why would you do this – “stubbornly cloaked in shadow”? I’ve been completely ignoring this game b/c I don’t play any online multiplayer games. I play a ton of offline w/ my kids, but those 2-4 player racing and fighting games aren’t exactly MMOs. Makes me think – as those above have observed – that the single player experience isn’t really going to be an experience at all.


    Sid Shuman's Avatar

     

    + Sid Shuman on April 13th, 2012 at 2:48 pm said:

    I suspect they’ve been trying to hold onto some secrets for the weeks before launch :) What I played was very fun, and quite different from what the MP battlefield holds


17

+ D-Squad3 on April 13th, 2012 at 12:44 pm said:

I hope the singleplayer is great because I know the multiplayer sucks.


18

+ jason_ac on April 13th, 2012 at 12:53 pm said:

I’m looking forward to seeing the single-player.


19

+ cosmis_chaos on April 13th, 2012 at 12:56 pm said:

It’s good to hear that the SP is not going to simply be a ‘warm up’ of the MP. Too many so called AAA games get away with that kind of crap these days. Don’t sell me half a game and pretend like it doesn’t matter. Good to see all developers aren’t sold on trying to blank out the SP.
@ D-Squad3. you must not have played the same game that everyone else did.


20

+ MP_is_for_Chumps on April 13th, 2012 at 1:26 pm said:

If its under 10 hours, its not a campaign, it’s a shoe-in.


21

+ wolfflame21 on April 13th, 2012 at 2:45 pm said:

@ MP_is_for_Chumps So Uncharted 3 is a shoe in?


22

+ C_Y_P_H_E_R on April 13th, 2012 at 3:17 pm said:

I’m beyond happy to see this getting the single player campaign. I’m glad Austin has something to do with it too.


23

+ cfountain on April 13th, 2012 at 3:32 pm said:

so close to launch and we still havent seen the single player yet? seems fishy to me. if it was really worth touting that would have shown it off already. not just the one level that’s also a multiplayer map. for now its looking like a bunch of”Clear this wave” type missions held together by some cutscenes.

dont get me wrong, I cant wait for it and I already have it preordered(GIVE US THAT PREORDERED FROM AMAZON SOMETHING TOO) but i REALLY dont expect much and Sont/LightBox isnt doing much to make me feel differently. its a multiplayer game any way so I guess if the SP is lackluster I’ll be okay.


24

+ Heavenly_king on April 13th, 2012 at 3:33 pm said:

this game needs to be advertized, if not it will bomb just like resistance 3

This game needs HYPE!!!!


25

+ D-Squad3 on April 13th, 2012 at 4:03 pm said:

@cosmis_chaos, you must not have played Warhawk.


26

+ jscFALCONS on April 13th, 2012 at 4:51 pm said:

That’s a very deep story for a 5 hour game…PLEASE MAKE IT LONGER!!!!! I love SP!!!!!!!


27

+ skyking1415 on April 13th, 2012 at 5:18 pm said:

r u going to be able to play music while you are playing?


28

+ MajorSouthpaw on April 13th, 2012 at 5:39 pm said:

Release day is so close that I wish it would drop NOW!!!! The next few weeks will feel so long until its finally in my possession. Lightbox Interactive… you guys rock!!!


29

+ inFAMOUS-787 on April 13th, 2012 at 6:07 pm said:

money well spent next month! cannot wait!


30

+ sekaniy on April 13th, 2012 at 6:58 pm said:

maybe you guys can rent the game, or wait till it goes to GH.
I pre-ordered it and can’t wait. A little disappointed i have to go to GS.


31

+ TERMINATOR543 on April 13th, 2012 at 8:34 pm said:

Will there be a single player demo for the game? I am thinking of getting it, but first i would like to experience it before buying.


32

+ D13Dvyz_00 on April 13th, 2012 at 8:58 pm said:

Good game! I would wait any soon to buy Starhawk, and I would get Sweet Tooth’s outfit in PSN. That I buyed Twisted Metal couple last year,and I got Redeem Code for Sweeth Tooth’s outfit Starhawk! Lucky day for me!


33

+ cosmis_chaos on April 13th, 2012 at 10:57 pm said:

@ D-Squad3. Oh yes I did play Warhawk. And just because you played Warhawk doesn’t mean that Starwark sucks. Your just still stuck in Warhawk and as long as you keep that close mindedness you will never enjoy Starhawk.


34

+ Mattsta001 on April 13th, 2012 at 11:07 pm said:

As someone who put 300 hours into Warhawk I regret to say this game does not interest me as much and a lot of people I’ve talked to feel the same. I’m not interested in some campaign with a ridiculous premise about space cowboys infected with energy. Pretty sure most people who enjoyed the first game expected Warhawk, in space, a $40 downloadable multi player title. Why the devs decided to go down this route is puzzling.


35

+ amer159 on April 13th, 2012 at 11:49 pm said:

WOOOW THE BEST GAME


36

+ madhukrishna9999 on April 14th, 2012 at 12:15 am said:

Test


37

+ brockastro on April 14th, 2012 at 12:35 am said:

I’m really excited about this game. The beta was a lot of fun at times my brother and I just rode around for fun. P.S. Where do I leave user tips/questions?


    Sid Shuman's Avatar

     

    + Sid Shuman on April 15th, 2012 at 11:18 pm said:

    email blogcast [at] playstation [dot] sony [dot] com


38

+ mastorofpuppetz on April 14th, 2012 at 6:42 am said:

@3 self entitled whiney kids like you are a disease, games have been 50-60 a pop since nes cartridges in the 80′s . Why should this game with a massive MP suite and SP campaign be only 30? That doesn’t even make sense. The world owes you nothing kid80′s


39

+ mastorofpuppetz on April 14th, 2012 at 6:43 am said:

@34, your one person, devs dont make games tailored to you and you alone, most people enjoy SP campaigns, and the MP is still there.


40

+ mastorofpuppetz on April 14th, 2012 at 6:44 am said:

@*, ROFL at Kilzone having good SP, SP sucks in killzone.


41

+ TJF588 on April 14th, 2012 at 7:33 am said:

I just can’t wait for this to be out of Sony’s circulatory system. I’m with #6 on this’n, with The Tester 3 only making me more maligned (especially since I wasn’t impressed with the d00d they brought in from it, though I honestly can’t remember his role and didn’t have the volume up for much of the series’s run).

As for SP campaigns, though, getting the itch to go through Portal 2 again, but I’ve already got all the trophies an Steamchievements on that. Gotta scrounge up an X360 version; don’t even know if I can do online co-op without signing up for LIVE Gold.


42

+ CommandingTiger on April 14th, 2012 at 8:11 am said:

Killzone 3 SP was Epic!
Beats the holy crap out of every other shooter released last year. Including Resistance 3 (wasn’t bad and actually fun, but haven’t completed it yet since I’m playing Uncharted 3.)

Seriously, anyone who says that Killzone 3′s isn’t Epic or Great Cleary hasn’t played the game or that’s some wicked dope your on and I want your pusher. (Not really…)

Can’t say the same about Killzone 2 because I was bored before I went into the action and haven’t touch it yet.
The first Killzone took me at least 20 hours in before I got interested, that ain’t the case with Killzone 3.

So if Starhawk can be as great as Killzone 3, it would be worth 80$, cuz the multi-player is wicked.


43

+ tyreytrdh on April 14th, 2012 at 11:32 am said:

Uncharted 3 campaign>Resistance 3 Campaign> Killzone 3 Campaign.
Killzone 3 multiplayer > Uncharted 3 Multiplayer>Resistance 3 multiplayer.


44

+ tyreytrdh on April 14th, 2012 at 11:36 am said:

Twisted Metal and Starhawk FTW


45

+ xXSilentRouge6Xx on April 14th, 2012 at 12:17 pm said:

I played the beta, Can’t wait for release!


46

+ Gekidami on April 14th, 2012 at 2:07 pm said:

Honestly it sounds like the campaign will be mainly “Beat these waves to win” over and over, so really its ‘Hoard mode’ with FMV’s in between. I hope there are some missions that are more about progression than holding positions, its nice that it wont be a linear regular shooter romp, but you have to keep in mind that people do like that stuff too. Set pieces and a clear goal you have to move towards are compelling, wanting to ‘leave the beaten path’ is cool, but if theres nothing but the same scenery to see, people will regret not having stuck to the road.


47

+ CBreeze5g on April 14th, 2012 at 9:37 pm said:

I don’t think the multiplayer will be as poorly dobe as sone of you think it will be. Dylan has alredy stressed that the campaign won’t just be a generic setup for the MP. This article reincorces that statement and I for one look forward to not only the awesome MP but the SP as well.


48

+ CBreeze5g on April 14th, 2012 at 9:39 pm said:

My above statement should have “done” instead of dobe and “some” instead of sone. I really need to start spell checking more often.


49

+ leukoplast on April 14th, 2012 at 10:23 pm said:

Dylan says: “In most single-player shooters, you play a linear experience: event, event, event, set piece, event, event, event, set piece. With Starhawk, we wanted to give the player a combat challenge: Here’s what’s going to attack you, here’s when it’s going to attack you, and here are the tools you can use.”

That to me says that the SP is not very deep and is simply a lazy way out. Instead of building a cinimatic experience that unfolds as you make your way through levels, you are just thrown into an arena and the objective is to take out all the enemies and/or complete some one-dimensional task. Wow, sounds like a real blast.

In other words, the SP will be a tacked on experience based off MP gameplay, just as most of us expected. Give us a MP game only for $40 please, nobody (at least those who are not gushing fanboys) is going to want to pay for a tacked on arena shooting RTS SP experience. We want games that play out like movies, because those are the most engaging and interesting.


50

+ leukoplast on April 14th, 2012 at 11:34 pm said:

Dylan says: “In most single-player shooters, you play a linear experience: event, event, event, set piece, event, event, event, set piece. With Starhawk, we wanted to give the player a combat challenge: Here’s what’s going to attack you, here’s when it’s going to attack you, and here are the tools you can use.”

That to me says that the SP is not very deep and is simply a lazy way out. Instead of building a cinematic experience that unfolds as you make your way through levels, you are just thrown into an arena and the objective is to take out all the enemies and/or complete some one-dimensional task. Wow, sounds like a real blast.

In other words, the SP will be a tacked on experience based off MP gameplay, just as most of us expected. Give us a MP game only for $40 please, nobody is going to want to pay an extra $20 for a tacked on 6 hour long arena shooting RTS SP experience. We want games that play out like movies, because those are the most engaging and interesting.


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    + Sid Shuman on April 15th, 2012 at 11:20 pm said:

    The SP scenarios I played/saw were nothing like an area. The fighting would spill all over the place, sometimes localized just outside (or inside) town, at other points sprawling into surrounding mountains or foothills. And it can change more still if you hop into a Hawk and zoom around to take out enemies.


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