John Wick Hex team experimented with an XCOM-style action camera

Mike Bithell reveals more about the game's AI-driven replay mode

John Wick Hex will have a replay function to let you see your strategic murder in real time, but it won’t let you direct the action as you’re playing. You won’t have fine control over the camera as you’re playing, since the wider angle the game adopts is better for making strategic decisions – but it’s not out of the question that this “choreography game” could become a “director game” down the line.

“I’ve definitely talked to people about it and I think it’s an interesting idea,” Mike Bithell tells us in regards to fine camera controls. “Currently no plans, but let’s see if the game takes off, you never know.” As some of the people close to the project have asked Bithell, “‘You’ve made a stunt choreography game, could there be a director game?’ I’m not sure, but definitely not in the base game.”

But Bithell is a good bit less cagey about John Wick Hex replays than he was at E3. “The reason we didn’t show it at E3 was that we were still working on it and I don’t like promising stuff I don’t have on my computer. That’s tripped up many a game developer over the years. It was something that came up very quickly while we were working on those first prototypes, and obviously we’ve always been from this kind of top-down perspective.”

Regular game players recognise why Hex goes with that traditional camera system, but efforts to bring a more filmic presentation in-game haven’t really worked. “We experimented with some kind of that XCOM camera that comes in when you’re taking your action and stuff like that,” Bithell says.

“The problem with that is, because we have all this overlapping action that’s really cool, if we jump cut into a close camera while you’re playing, we can remove some situational awareness from you because we’re framing up so you can see that you’re shooting this guy, but you can’t see the guy who’s shooting in the back.”

Yet that kind of experimentation eventually led to the implementation of replays, as “the idea just kind of then grew organically out of that.” The art is built for close scrutiny, so bringing in more cinematic views for replays was a natural fit. “You’re never seeing it that way in gameplay so we started talking about a replay, like ‘oh well, let’s make it that you can watch at the end of a level, and it plays through in real-time.’”