Army of Two Q&A - Multiplayer Madness

We talk with senior producer Reid Schneider about the multiplayer modes in EA's upcoming tactical shooter.

Army of Two is EA's upcoming shooter developed at its Montreal studios. Although much has been discussed about the unique third-person game's two-player mechanics in the campaign mode, specifics on its multiplayer offerings have been kept under wraps. We caught up with senior producer Reid Schneider, who gave up the goods on what the studio has planned for the game's multiplayer action, which is shaping up to be a intriguing experience.

GameSpot: How did you approach multiplayer for AO2?

Reid Schneider: Army of Two is built from the ground up as a co-op game. It focuses on two-man strategies and tactics. What really differentiates the gameplay from other shooters is the interaction you have with your partner, whether it be a live player or the AI partner. The team did a great job of translating the "buddy-cop" film experience to a video game. They were able to execute on many co-op features that people thought would be impossible to translate into a game. All the credit goes to them for crafting an amazing experience.

Team up, because you're going to need a partner in Army of Two.

Moving online to the multiplayer experience, we really wanted to push players to continue to work together to use their two-man tactics and strategies to complete certain objectives. It is the unparalleled emphasis on team play that sets the game apart from other tactical shooters.

GS: Where did you look to for inspiration?

RS: We looked at all types of shooter games as well as action/fighting games going back to the Double Dragon and Contra days. These were games that proved that playing "co-op"/together with another gamer was much more fun that going at it alone. We want to promote the interaction between players and put them in situations where they will need to rely on different co-op tactics and strategies to complete their mission while trying to beat the other team.

GS: What were the challenges to the experience?

RS: One of the biggest challenges for us was how to make the minute-to-minute experience of AO2 constantly focus on co-op. At the start of AO2, we had a huge amount of co-op moves (riot shields, co-op sniping, step-jumps, partner dragging, etc) but we realized that we really needed to tie the players together all the time, and not just at key moments.

In order to do that, we created the concept of the aggrometer. Once we put it in the game, we saw that the co-op experience changed dramatically, and people really needed to communicate/cooperate to succeed.

The biggest challenge was to convey the co-op experience in a multiplayer match. We didn't want to go with the typical deathmatch mode. We have a variety of modes that really capture the essence of co-op gameplay. You'll have to watch each other's backs and work together to defeat the opposing team.

GS: Describe the fundamental premise of multiplayer in Army of Two. Does each team start on equal footing, or is this more of an asymmetrical, attack-and-defend sort of thing?

RS: Army of Two multiplayer is a four-player game consisting of two competing teams of two players each. You can enter into a custom match with your friends, or join a quick match on your own. Army of Two multiplayer challenges players to complete objectives while competing with a rival team, to earn cash. When the players earn cash, they can buy new guns and armor. Like the campaign mode, Army of Two multiplayer brings cash to the forefront, making it the win condition for multiplayer matches. Leaderboards will show the amount of cash each player has earned, giving them incentive to earn more than their rivals.

It's generally not wise to take a nap in the middle of a firefight.

Army of Two multiplayer has a variety of objectives in each mission area. Primary objectives are dependent on the game mode selected; this varies from destroying items, killing terrorist targets, or rescuing hostages. Secondary objectives are scattered throughout the missions, allowing players to collect additional intelligence data. A successful team will discover the best ways to complete their objectives using a variety of paths through the missions.

Multiplayer missions in Army of Two embrace the idea that players will need to learn everything they can about their environment. Teams that can identify the route their opponents are using will quickly realize what counter-route they can take in order to get there first. Knowing key positions of advantage in the missions and their counter-positions will be extremely important for teams that want to make loads of cash.

GS: Obviously, the campaign revolves around interactions with your teammate. Will there be any such co-op abilities that are unique to multiplayer?

RS: In multiplayer, the focus is on protecting your teammate from the other team, while completing objectives. There will also be some unique two-man vehicles in multiplayer that are not available in campaign mode.

GS: Has the aggro concept been incorporated into multiplayer in any way? Will you still get nifty moves like the back-to-back, 360-degree shooting?

RS: The aggrometer will be a part of online play as well, since you'll be going up against another team of two to complete a variety of missions. There will also be enemy AI in the maps who you can kill to earn cash. We have been tweaking the aggro shaders for versus mode to make it more valuable for online play. For example, when your buddy has full aggro and you have no aggro, you are almost fully transparent (think Predator). This gives you the advantage against other human opponents, as it's harder to see you.

GS: Can you take any of your custom weapon mods from the single-player game into the multiplayer? If not, what will the online arsenal look like?

RS: No, in order to balance multiplayer we have a weapon-purchase system which has a large amount of precustomized weapons that can be purchased through weapons depots in the map. If you liked Counter-Strike then you'll like this. Think Counter Strike gone co-op.

GS: Are the multiplayer maps retooled from the campaign maps, or created specifically for the multiplayer mode? What considerations did you have in designing them?

RS: The multiplayer maps were inspired by the Campaign mode maps in terms of location, but built completely from the ground up for versus mode. When designing these maps, the team did a great job of creating cool spaces to exploit co-op. They deserve all the credit for this.

Army of Two is gunning for November.

GS: Are you using the headset and camera peripherals in any unique ways in the multiplayer?

RS: You can talk to other players using the headset. However, we are not utilizing the camera peripheral.

GS: Any hooks for downloadable multiplayer goodies after the game launches?

RS: We're planning to support the multiplayer mode with additional maps at launch. We have already been playing the new maps, and they're very cool.

GS: What's your favorite recent multiplayer feature or innovation in a game other than your own?

RS: For us it's the co-op experience mixed with the weapon-purchase capacity of Counter Strike that really makes it stand out. The design team has also done a great job of creating interesting challenges for the player to experience in the versus mode.

GS: Thanks for your time.

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Discussion

130 comments
Sticky53
Sticky53

Can u have Guests and is there system link?

Teambravo87
Teambravo87

there is going to be splitscreen coop dont worry if u go to xbox .com and look for army of two is shows there will be coop on the same system

camichan
camichan

The Contra reference made my day. That game was where I started co-op play in the old school days. Sweet!

NavySeal-103
NavySeal-103

This game can be played in campaign mode with AI partner, split screen with your buddy (yes with your buddy next to you[with same console, yes yes]), and via online with someone else from the world. This game is going to be good.

ogtravisc
ogtravisc

This should be pretty titttts.. well it better be anyway..the two player teams well that kinda sux and i know there is split screen cuz if not ill prolly kill one of the developers for being so dumb..anyway im deff gonna get it so i plan on destroying all of you in this post at some time..PEACE

random_man43
random_man43

i bet you get custom armour XD that would be so awsome

spKeeper20
spKeeper20

I'm a little worried about how the online matches are gonna be. I think they should still have regular modes like deathmath but have the teams of lets say 8 split into squads of two so you keep the co-op feel. But overall i think it will be a good game.

smadiso1
smadiso1

I've been looking for a game that my brother (two time zones away) and I could get into again. This one is definitely sounding like a great option. I remember the good old co-op days of Streets of Rage and Double Dragon...and of course the non co-op beat downs we delivered to each other when we got bored with co-op play. :D

lamplan
lamplan

I have high hopes for this game.

hima08v2
hima08v2

no way there has to be. ive seen videos were it was split screen cus they showed it off on there web site. they said "now you see the camera angle has changed" so i doubt there isnt and splitscreen

Vietnamgamer
Vietnamgamer

bennie12, I COMPLETELY agree with you. I don't necessarily like playin with people on LIVE that have no life and just play Gears all day, it isn't fun playing with some nerd 2,000 miles away, its fun playing with your best friend, or having a Sys Link party and actually seeing the factial expressions of the person you've just pwned. But about there being no split-screen, is that true? If it is, how GAY is that being a CO-OP based game, and no real co-op except for LIVE, which porbably isnt going to be much of a Co-op game, more of a "see how many TK's you can get in" Haha, sorry for all the complaining...but that just sucks if theres no split-screen. And only 2v2...kinda sucks even more. Gonna be a bit like gears, its fun until you beat it ten times in two days on Insane using chainsaws only.

Mabumania
Mabumania

HOORAH! As someone mentioned, hope it lives up to the hype.

SHReK987
SHReK987

this game will be sick! but i can not get more than one game in a month so im stuck between AO2, or Battlefield Bad Company. its hard awesome co-op. or blow up everything in the levels

Unreal1ty
Unreal1ty

i hope this game will hit the pc too! cant wait to play this on xbox360

RakinR
RakinR

i hope it lives up to the hype...

skatatay
skatatay

This game looks rerally sick but I dont understand why the multiplayer is only 2 on 2? either way though im still getting this game along with COD 4

thanatose
thanatose

I've been looking for a good co-op game for a while and this one looks like it might fit what I'm wanting. I really hope this game turns out to be great.

jacob-goodlich
jacob-goodlich

there is split screen right? and if so...vs modes?

dutch777
dutch777

i've been traking this for some time..........................can't wait!!!!

xLeXaRx
xLeXaRx

I was just watching the game trailers and calls me a lot my atention, cause it's something really different from shooter that why im going to get this game and Mass Effect on November :D

DrDazzle
DrDazzle

The game looks good... graphically. The gameplay just looks dry and gimmicky. I will wait for some reviews to come out.

JP-
JP-

i hear ya bennie

volpexpress
volpexpress

good thing i preoredered this game it looks great!

nack888
nack888

Does anyone know how the character customization is goin to work in AO2? I really want to know. I hope it's not just precustomized characters you can use.

sw_and_wet
sw_and_wet

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Ravion
Ravion

Call of Duty 4 ftw Beta was awesome

jamess736
jamess736

mmm, I'm getting this and COD4, So its all good.

sw_and_wet
sw_and_wet

bennie12 I think you can still play with your friend on LAN. But no split screen is a shame...

rosscero
rosscero

I'm with hutchisoni... :D

hutchisoni
hutchisoni

"DEWMAN08 Sweet, now I've gotta decied which to get first, this or COD 4?" Get both! :D thats what im doing!

DEWMAN08
DEWMAN08

Sweet, now I've gotta decied which to get first, this or COD 4?

bennie12
bennie12

What the heck is happening with no more multiplayer offline. I was furious when I found out Double Agent didn't have offline multiplayer. People still want to play with their REAL friends. Not just people that live 2,000 miles away.

sw_and_wet
sw_and_wet

The idea of the game is really good, i mean two men tactic for coop campaign will be so cool. But then MP is weak, they shouldn't put a limit on numbers of player because of the "two men tactic" concept, instead they should design some creative MP mode to make this "two men tactic" concept outstanding, meanwhile allowing 16 players or more to play online. Afterall, 2v2 is just not enough to call a MP mode......just look at halo and team fortress 2. Those are the game we are talking about that will satisfy the online players. And I don't think this game will be able to compete with CoD4, Assassin Creed... Anyway, this game still got it's potential, I will definetly consider this game after I got CoD4 if I still have the money.

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

not gonna bother, COD4, Kane & Lynch much more my type of game, can see 2v2 becoming boring after a while

rinker03
rinker03

Not alot of ppl supporting the 2v2 however I think the new innovations they have added it is probly tuned great for it...just depends on the map sizes. Still though I'm not a fan of 2v2, they could have made it 2v2v2 but no worries. I feel this will be a must buy, they have about created a new genre. I think it is either going to be really great or a big flop...It will have to be in my xbox before I can give it a thumbs up or down.

redfox66
redfox66

Can't wait to play this co-op games are always the most fun and this is built from the ground up for it. i really like the aggro system very MMO and be interesting to use it on missions. All the 2 man moves look great to.

Burns_87
Burns_87

They shuld have an option to play without the stupid "aggro" its a shooter not a f*&*in rpg

sukwonlee
sukwonlee

this looks like failure to me. gg EA

ResiFreak
ResiFreak

Same here. Its gonna be sweet!!

mkben
mkben

This game seems great. I really like its co-op ideal, though I'm not a MP type. It is on my wish list for December, since November's is already full, gotta have Assassin's Creed , ProStreet, and others to catch up!

damned_beast
damned_beast

With out more than just a coop gameplay. With no competitive online with more than 4 people, i dont think this game will be a solid buy for me.

Headhunter01
Headhunter01

I'm really more excited about the co-op campaign

marvster21
marvster21

they should have multiteams like in halo 3.like someone else said 2 on 2 arent that good and get boring quickly but it would be better facing different teams on a big map

KrueLnMe
KrueLnMe

this game will be good for like a week or 2.... not a must buy game maybe a good session from gamefly?

RPG-Elite
RPG-Elite

Wouldn't call this game a next gen console quality, but the online play should be a laugh