Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood Q&A - Characters, Story, and Shoot-Outs
Techland product manager Pawel Kopinski discusses the story, characters, and gunfights in this Western-inspired sequel.
The original Call of Juarez was a gritty shooter inspired by classic Western action films. The sequel, Bound in Blood, will expand on the original game's story and characters by letting you play as one of two gunslinging brothers, brought together by family ties but torn apart by greed and ambition. We get the details from Pawel Kopinski, product manager at developer Techland.
GS: Give us an update on the status of the game. What part of the game is the team working on now?
PK: We're currently in the final stretch. Part of the team is working on optimizing our code and polishing the game [until it] shines. This is the time when those tiny details can be improved even more to satisfy our artists' obsession with quality. We're also balancing multiplayer as much as possible, but we fully expect to continue this process following the release. This time, much more emphasis has been put on the multiplayer side of Call of Juarez to exploit the potential of the setting. After all, intense shootouts at medium to close range feel great with 19th-century weapons. Modern high-tech weapons seem like a serious case of overkill [in these situations]. All the time we have left until release will be spent perfecting players' experience of the wildest West ever created.
GS: The story in Bound in Blood takes place during a very volatile part of American history, right around the American Civil War/Reconstruction era. Why choose this period of time for the game? What does the era add in terms of available technology of that age, relationships with Native American nations, and the freedom people had to explore the world?
PK: The Civil War wasn't a part of some grand scheme from the beginning. When we counted the years back from the timeline of the first Call of Juarez game (Billy Candle's age), it became apparent that we had that particular piece of American history to deal with in the prequel. This had initially seemed like a mixed blessing but turned out to be a great background. After all, war and its aftermath bring out the worst in people, pushing them to their limits and pitting individuals against a new, transformed reality. War serves as a catalyst and an excuse for the McCall brothers' [story]. It sets in motion a chain of events that leads Thomas and Ray across America in their quest. Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood contains references to, characters from, iconic locations in, and events pertaining not only to the Civil War but also from the best of the Western genre. One of the more important conflicts in the game is between two well-known Native American tribes--and it's a historical one. From the Pinkertons to gunrunners, through stagecoach chases, prison breaks, and holdups, Bound in Blood has it all.
GS: What are the brothers' motivations going into the game? Do they start their adventure looking for nothing but money?
PK: Actually, it's quite the opposite. At the beginning of the game, Ray and Thomas are soldiers fighting in the Confederate army. To protect their home and family, they are forced to become deserters. At first, the legendary gold of Juarez seems like the means of attaining a greater goal, but greed and lust get the better of them. Bound in Blood is a dark and mature tale of brotherhood and honor, of falling and of redemption. All characters come a long way [over the course of the story].
GS: We understand that a big part of the game's intent is to re-create the feeling of Old West shoot-outs. How are the guns being tuned and designed to help create that feeling of being a gunslinger using the weapons of the era? How do the in-game physics work to support the way guns fire, reload, and feel?
PK: When it comes to guns, we had to choose between history and the beloved spaghetti Westerns. As is often the case, reality turned out to be much less exciting than legend. During that time, revolvers were still very unreliable, and double-barreled shotguns were the most popular weapons in the Wild West. That's why spaghetti Westerns won that particular competition. This means that all weapons are very accurately re-created from [their historical counterparts], but just like in everyone's favorite Western movies, they shouldn't really be there yet. Sometimes, their true date of introduction is just a few months away, but in other cases the difference is a couple of years.
Of course, this still means that fights have distinct and unique dynamics. Shoot-outs are very quick and intense, but the lack of automatic weapons and the emphasis on skills and judgment change their look and feel. Each time players decide to get out there and fight, they will feel like legendary gunslingers overcoming tough odds. The multiplayer is also designed around the Wild West weapons: the average number of bullets in a drum, reload rates, and so on.
GS: We also understand that one of the most important parts of the game will be gun duels, which will require players to use fast reflexes and judiciously keep their hands close, but not too close, to their guns. How will players get into gun duels? Whom will they duel, and will all gun duels be solo, or will there be some battles with multiple opponents?
PK: Duels are indeed very important in creating the immersive and exciting experience in Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood. After all, even modern movies and games often reach for the convention of a Wild West duel. It's as much a battle of wills as it is a simple shooting competition. To make those moments feel special, we have used them for the most important enemies--bosses, if you will. Duels are always one-on-one affairs. For spectacular takedowns of multiple opponents, players can use the new concentration modes, which--unlike duels--can be triggered frequently.
GS: We understand that each mission will let players choose to play as either one of the brothers, even though the story will eventually pit them against each other. How does this branching work in practice? Do you end up playing two totally different games where each brother performs completely different missions?
PK: Initially the choice of the playable character is more a question of gameplay style than anything else. Some players will prefer Ray's toughness and close-quarters combat skills, while others will prefer Thomas and his mastery of rifles. At some point, a gap between the brothers will appear. Their points of view will become increasingly different. It's worth playing all the missions twice just to see the story through both pairs of eyes. Near the end of the game, the McCalls really go their separate ways but...no spoilers.
GS: Finally, is there anything else you'd like to add about the game?
PK: Creating the wildest West was a great challenge but also a ton of fun. We can't wait to let players into that atmospheric and immersive world of deadly gunslingers and destiny forged by one's own actions.
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