Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway Exclusive Q&A - New Story, New Missions, New Game

We have questions. Gearbox has answers, plus an exclusive new gameplay video and screens.

by

There's a reason airborne troops labeled the corridor through Holland and into Germany "Hell's Highway." After running into two unexpected panzer divisions, the thousands of airborne paratroopers that jumped into Holland were suddenly cut off--ill-equipped, starving, cold, and alone. Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway will chronicle the failed operation through the eyes of Matt Baker, the protagonist in previous Gearbox entries in the franchise.

Gentlemen, welcome to Hell's Highway.

Heading toward release, we'll examine Hell's Highway brick-by-brick, from the new destructible environments to the history behind the largest airborne operation in human history, accompanied with new behind-the-scenes gameplay footage and screens. Today we sat down with Mikey Neumann, the writer and cinematic director on Brother in Arms: Hell's Highway, to talk about the Operation Market Garden, a bold plan indeed.

GameSpot: Operation Market Garden was the largest airborne operation in history, with 35,000 troops parachuting into Holland to secure a number of objectives. What were the major objectives of the operation and what will we experience in the game on day one?

Mikey Neumann: Well, technically, the game starts a few days into the operation in a decrepit hospital, but we quickly rewind the clock to get the player caught up to speed.

The major objective of Operation Market Garden was to punch straight into Berlin and end the war by Christmas. It was a lofty expectation and possibly even a greedy one. For the men (and hopefully the player), on D+0, this probably felt exciting after the victory in the French countryside...

GS: Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway tells the story of Matt Baker and his squad from previous BIA games, as well as the 10 days spent behind enemy lines as part of Market Garden. Walk us through the 10 days of hell Baker and company will go through.

MN: Well, I can't walk you through all 10 days as that would give away the whole game! S/Sgt. Matt Baker and S/Sgt. Joe "Red" Hartsock are in charge of two small "Recon" teams heading into Holland. They're responsible for going in ahead of the rest of the paratroopers and reporting back what they find. What they expected to find was old men and young boys barely able to hold rifles; unfortunately, what they found was platoons of experienced German soldiers who were not giving up the highway to Berlin. This creates some serious complications for Baker on his journey.

GS: The Allies were not expecting the 9th SS and 10th SS panzer tank divisions to be stationed in Holland for rest and refit. How are lightly armed airborne troops supposed to take on German tanks? Any strategies you recommend in the game?

MN: Well, that's where Stella comes in (pause, for audience laughter.) We give the player some bigger toys this time around to hopefully make it feel, let's say, "fair enough." Jasper totes around his bazooka, "Stella," for just such a situation. The missions where you fight tanks create a nice cat-and-mouse type scenario where it's more about how you can get shots off at the tank without it getting shots off at you. The bazooka is also nice for well-entrenched enemies using our new destructible cover system. In the previous games, enemies like that required a great deal of patience to take down; this go around, you can just blow them to hell and go on your merry [way].

You could say that the new game will feature some close-quarters combat.

GS: We haven't seen any vehicles yet in Hell's Highway. Will we be able to commandeer tanks or pilot a glider drop?

MN: We did it a little different this time around; we believe it's one better. In the previous games, we put the tanks under Baker's command, which was pretty fun. This time around (as we're pretty comfortable switching around the character perspectives at this point), we decided to actually put you in the boots of the men in a tank. It's creates a lot more chaotic and interesting gameplay for the player when he's taking on multiple 88's at once!

GS: There is a huge focus on authenticity in Hell's Highway as you used actual aerial photographs of the battle to design your levels. What are the challenges in balancing that level of authenticity with good game design?

MN: The most obvious challenge with the Market Garden landscape is that the Americans withdrew from the operation, so if our audience is constantly losing and getting frustrated, they probably won't want to be our customers anymore. In actuality, though, we find that most of the reconnaissance photography lends itself to our gameplay very well. We're using a lot of the same tactics to attack the enemy that the paratroopers used, which means you can stay startlingly close to the actual experience and still have a good time in the end. For our most hardcore fans, that creates a fun game of "How would you have handled the same problem?"

GS: There is really no question that you are attempting to connect players emotionally with the characters in the game. In your research and interviews with veterans of Market Garden, what are some of their stories that inspired you most?

MN: Too many to count. A lot of what affected me when talking to these heroes is the amount of loss they saw in Operation Market Garden was so high that it's still fresh in their memory and still gets to them. I think--and I'm speaking from my own interpretation at this point--that a lot of them left a piece of themselves out there on the battlefield. I did my best to build that same loss into Baker's journey. If we've succeeded in not just entertaining the player but in teaching our audience what it feels like to lose the men you care about and continue on--even just a little--then we've done our job. Hopefully, this gives people that play our game the desire to talk to veterans when they see them. Our World War II heroes are not going to be around forever, and it would be a shame to miss out on their journeys because we just never talked to them.

GS: We've seen Market Garden in many other WWII games before but not nearly to this extent. What locations and bridges will we see besides the requisite Arnhem and Nijmegen?

MN: Son, Veghel, Koevering, Eindhoven, just to name a few.

GS: Market Garden also involved British and Polish troops. Will Baker and company run into any other allies or is his squad truly outnumbered, outgunned, and alone?

MN: The British tankers played a huge part in the operation and in the interactions of the American paratroopers. The first big main objective (at the highest level) is finding and linking up with XXX corps and bringing them through Eindhoven. We did a lot more with side characters this time around and built some British soldiers into the main storyline that come into the story in surprising ways.

GS: The BIA franchise has often been compared to the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers for its focus on storytelling and the bonds of brotherhood forged in battle. Band of Brothers also went on to portray an Allied victory in Europe. Where will Baker's story end? Surely, BIA can't end with a failed operation...

The new game will explore the story of each character further.

MN: What's the fun of knowing the end before you're done with the middle? Baker's story surely has an end, and I have a pretty solid idea what that end is, but we're not ready to begin discussing our next steps until Hell's Highway is out the door. There are some really serious consequences from this operation to the dwindling presence that is "Baker's Dozen."

I will say the ending chapter of Hell's Highway called "Farewell is Goodbye" should give all our fans a fair heading on where Baker's going on his journey.

GS: Thanks for your time.

Discussion

93 comments
sithlordstevo
sithlordstevo

you know what would be just awsome....a german campaign not like the skirmish missions on earned in blood but like a whole other part of the story germans and american both had it rough over there id like to see wat game deveoler wold do with that

sithlordstevo
sithlordstevo

phuk that ascolon that is just ignorant how can you say that soldiers had it worse in the pacific? if you look at its about even

sharier
sharier

I can't wait for the game. Unlike many of you, I am not bored by the WW2 shooter games-- especially the quality ones-- because the experience of each game was different. I also like the modern warfare at the same time. I guess I like variation. So I believe BIA will give us another round of realism.

ascalon94
ascalon94

To tell the truth Im also tired of fighting Germans... The war with Japan was way more intense and i dont care what you say those men had it worse. Walking through swamps, catching malaria, having to deal with suicidal soldiers(the Japenese), etc. My Grandpa had to lie on the ground pretending he was dead for several hours until the Japs moved on and he was reunited with Allies. So yes I am happy cod 5 is in the Pacific.. btw this game is still cool.. Dont get me wrong the soldiers in Europe also had it bad... Im also looking forward to a Guerrilla Warfare game dealing with the Vietcong

ascalon94
ascalon94

You know I am extremely sick of WW2 games but after seeing some previews my mind has been changed.. for now.

Necros_21
Necros_21

harsh_ness, I strongly disagree. There's still a lot that can be done in WW2 and not all the games are the same from this period. For example BiA is nothing like any other shooter. ;)

harsh_ness
harsh_ness

Why don't game developers realise that playing from the allies point of view has been done to death.Most WWII games are boring (the exception is company of heroes) because they're all the same.They have no variation at all.I wanna drive me a panzer!

tattooedpain29
tattooedpain29

About damn time! It's gonna kick ass! Can't wait!

valttu
valttu

Can't wait. It's gonna be the best WW2 shooter.

denaz
denaz

Sweet, can't wait for this game. Hopefully it won't get refused classification here in Aus

Diehardgames2
Diehardgames2

Reading this, the game sounds interesting. I will no doubt buy it when it comes out next month.

pidow
pidow

War is War, no war is better than the other...it's all the same, unless you have had to fight one like I had to.....so be thankful you haven't had to yet and just play the game.

JoeyPegasus
JoeyPegasus

No Wardlord and Irishmarine, you are both wrong. Market Garden was indeed the largest airborne operation ever, BUT they dropped the 35.000 men over 3 (or in case of the Polish even more) days. On Op. Varsity, they droppen all the 16.870 men in ONE day, making it the largest drop ever.

warlord1968
warlord1968

Irish marine is write and postal guy 35,000 paratroops were dropped in market garden

IrishMarine3
IrishMarine3

um Postal Guy what are you talking about? Only 16,870 men were dropped in Operation Varsity unless my WW2 History book is wrong! Market Garden WAS the largest airborne invasion, are oyu sure you dont need to study some more history, in HELL?

John_Kelly
John_Kelly

That's why I play WWII miniatures. You still have a chance to win as the German.

Postal_Guy
Postal_Guy

lol gamespot is retarded... operation Market garden didnt had 35 000 airborne troops and it also wasnt the largest airborne operation in history.... it had 17 000 troops and the largest airborne operation in history was operation Varsity (this operation is very unknown, it took place on march 24, 1945 and it featured the 17th airborne division. the objective here was to secure a bridgehold over the Rhine into germany near Wesel). 22 000 were dropped here. go study some history gamespot :\

heniurisaito
heniurisaito

One think is another cliche wwii game. Another thing is a beautiful not-really-cliche thing. You may think that wwII is overdone because most you get is a one-man army shooting krauts untill the credits(cough... medal of honor... cough), but if you're ignorant enough to think that wwii is simply d-day>paris>berlin>japan nukes>axis surrender, and siply play wwii games to use the "weapons" well, screw you. One important fact that brothers in arms made a really more story-based game. WWII is not only m1 garand, thompson, mp40 and k98, so if you play wwii games for shooting, yeah you're done, go play some crysis, cod4, mortal kombat vs dc, whatever. The games nowadays not only are way more beautiful than before, but also improved to be better in most ways and respect other people instead of saying "wwii is done, wwii sucks, axis lost, the usa are heroes and are awesome, america rules". The bad thing is that there's no story-driven axis-based shooter yet... That'd be awesome, cod-like or bia-like, but that would just spoil usa's "good" name... Anyway, "shooters" are done, If you think about it, after goldeneye, shooters were simply pressing fire then auto-reload, fire, kill many, destroy tanks... Story-driven action games(not necessarily firs-person) are the different ones. Hope you get the point, and please, stop saying "WWII is done", respect us and stop using this to later say "haha I got ## of comments!", comments are meant to be useful, not personal(ignorant) opinion.

CVM_123
CVM_123

i think i will stay with cod 5

chad_giac
chad_giac

Personnally ill never get tired of shootin the m1 garand. i mean like u guys said modern warfare is great, so is ww2.

WizengamotX
WizengamotX

There need to be more Pacific centered WWII FPSes, like in Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault and the upcoming Call of Duty: World at War. Also, Medal of Honor: Allied Assault Breakthrough sucked my nuts so I am thinking some new games need to focus on the Italian portion of the Atlantic Theatre as well. I haven't played any of the BiA games yet, but plan on starting on the first one just after I complete MoH: PA (playing right now), CoD: UO (don't have yet), and CoD 2 (I own it but don't want to play it until I beat UO). Thank you for everyone who keeps loving WWII, and thank you for anyone with constructive criticism or suggestions for the course of future FPSes (I want to see some high-quality Vietnam FPSes). For all those who just came wielding hate and pathetic tired comments - go back to your Wii.

Arch-Vil
Arch-Vil

OK , we get it , Germany lost the war ..... no more WWII crap please...

atwon23
atwon23

I really liked COD4 and hope game developers continue to push the limits of modern warfare gaming, but I will never get over playing WWII games with their epic, and historical battles.

bodylotion
bodylotion

Oh my god i can't wait to play this game, especially since it all happened in and around my hometown and my ancestors been there. And who cares if there are more WW2 shooters? you don't have to buy every WW2 Game out there.

Stone524
Stone524

NICE!!!! They can keep going with this series there is still bastogne!!!!

OLADWI
OLADWI

Maaaaan!!! I just love WWII games Sweet.

wogglies5
wogglies5

For all the people who keep postin:WWII is played out, get lost or shut up! if you went here just to say that then checkout call of duty modern warfare. Besides, there is still many theatres left in WWII.

funnysplay
funnysplay

I dont care how many WWll shoots they come up with. Just as long as their good im getting them.

hurrikanejae
hurrikanejae

give me thumbs down like the rest of the people saying ww2 is well overplayed...no doubt in my mind i will get this game and beat it several times over, but i really am sick of this same old S*** least cod4 actually moved on to modern warfare, and what an amazing payoff! next time around i can deal with fictional war settings if we can just get the hell out of the 20th century!!!

theminence
theminence

There have been so many operations in WWII so WWII is not overplayed I think. That would only be the case if every WWII game was based on D-Day only. So basically I agree with CylonAndrew =]

viet1125
viet1125

Looks nice! Better have great story.

rocketdanman
rocketdanman

I am looking forward to this game. Some say that WWII is overplayed and everything has been done. I agree (in the case of hour of victory) but this game looks like it is going to bring some pretty sweet stuff to the table Ex destructable enviroments. LOOKS SWEET

CylonAndrew
CylonAndrew

For those who complain about WW2 shooters, how many times have we been killing alians? There are still many battles that have been left out like the Diep Raid, where 4000 Canadians were ordered by the British to storm a beach in 1942 but they were slaughtered by the prepaired Germans. 2000 of them returned to Britain. It was a test witch the D-Day plan was based off of. WW2 shooters are my favourit.

bibliomaniac15
bibliomaniac15

WWII is not really over yet. There's still the Pacific theater to be had in terms of FPS games. The genre never grows old for me anyway.

Drolith
Drolith

I hope they put out WWII games until WWX is done and over with, I can't get enough of them. This one looks good.

ooblagis
ooblagis

Oh wow, another WWII shooter, as if that set-up were not tired and cliche enough as it is, they have to ram another one down our throats. I think it's about time for developers to realise WWII has been done, and move on.

Static-7
Static-7

This game sounds really nice. WWII games will never get old as it lives on in the lives of those who fought in it. These guys are trying to tell their story and make it entertaining at the same time. My hat is off to the game developers. Score one for the team!

ar31an09
ar31an09

wow nice game. I am waiting for this game great graphics for more info www.mobicreed.com

LA_BooM_420
LA_BooM_420

this games screens and vids make the gfx look like $h@T, but i bet it's gonna be hella sweet online >: )

Bender10000
Bender10000

I know this game is going to be intense. It be nice if you actually piloted some glidders though but is all good. Also i think i know what Mikey Neumann talking about at the end. Either Baker is going to fight at the Battle of the Bulge or he dies. (Didn't mean to ruin the ending, if that was the ending lol)

kengi_ikazuchi
kengi_ikazuchi

Dang it, I was hoping FPS games won't return to WWII anymore. Face it, guys, it's played out. We've all seen it enough. Same tanks, same soldiers, same guns, and same soldiers. They will have to come up with some never-before-seen game play to get my vote. It's all about modern warefare now.

MxAa
MxAa

i might go for this instead of cod world at war, but only because i absolutely hate treyarch.

mckaine
mckaine

@s2i2p2i2o You are not too far down the list to be responded to, lol. The point of the accuracy is to let the player have a taste of what the real veterans experienced and gain an appreaciation for the things they went through. I, personally, would be satisfied with a generic town to shoot stuff in, but the realism gives it an added bonus, and added feeling of doing something real. Call of Duty is fun. An intense, though very "arcade-y" experience. Fun, but not the same. It has no core, like the BIA games do. And the gameplay is good enough for me. @savage1903 Agreed. The games need to be worth it. If it's just the same stuff over and over, it isnt worth the time or money. I definetly am looking forward to this. I've been waiting ever since Earned in Blood.

Xxgood-timesXx
Xxgood-timesXx

quality seems extremely high, though im hoping the multiplayer is good, if this game recieves a 8.5+ on GS i may consider buying it.,

czechgangster44
czechgangster44

WW2 games played out? thats why the next Call of Duty game is going to be about it? and this game is being made? "Mothkin" you said these graphics look lacking, well then then you must be looking at the wrong pictures. really exited about this game, hope mulitplayer is good. -hope i wasn't to aggresive, but trying to stand up for a game.

Jason_Morris
Jason_Morris

Sure, WWII is pretty played out for standard FPSs, but BiA has always played a bit differently: a much more tactical game more akin to chess than Doom. Also the respect that it has for the soldiers who were involved separates it from the usual "Kill all the evil Nazis!" fare. Its not so much WWII that's played out, more unimaginative FPSs - BiA isn't one of them.