When South Park: The Stick of Truth came out we were suitably won over. It perfectly captured the tone, feel, and look of the South Park show, and that looks to continue in this year’s The Fractured But Whole. The sequel introduces big changes to combat and characters, and series creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have been explaining those changes at E3.
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Talking to Entertainment Weekly, Stone explained that the biggest new element is the game’s combat, which is a more advanced version of The Stick of Truth’s turn-based system.
“The thing that needed to be updated was the combat. It was pretty simple turn-based on the last game. So there’s a whole new combat system that’s gonna be pretty fun,” he said. “There’s a lot of ways to use it, instead of just two-on-two facing each other. It still looks like you’re in an episode of South Park. Sometimes you don’t need a whole lot of technical stuff. It can just be a menu joke. When you die, it should be funny. When you get hurt, it should be funny.”
Once again The Fractured But Whole is an RPG, but this time the create-a-character system allows you to play as a girl. Stone revealed that the idea came up in Stick of Truth development, but by that time they’d made too many boy-based jokes that it wouldn’t work if they tried to retro-fit a lead girl character. For The Fractured But Whole the idea was there from the start for choose-your-own-gender, and that led to some interesting thinking. Because of the playground-age nature of the characters (eww, girls!), being a boy or a girl means characters treat you very differently.
“The boys are little boys, because it’s really a story about little boys running around. So they don’t care about [your character being a girl]? That seems weird. They always seemed to care about it in the show. Are they dumb about it, and they don’t know? So you’re in hiding? Or do they totally care about that, and totally treat you differently? So we ended up doing those things differently for different characters,” he said.
“It actually turned out to be quite a bit more work. I’m also playing The Division – I’m not just saying that because it’s Ubisoft. I made the character look like my wife, just because I thought that was funny, running around New York shooting people looking like my wife. But the game doesn’t treat you that differently. The guys still shoot you. The game doesn’t really react that much differently. That’s cool for that kind of game. It’s been a funny journey to go through, introducing something that we thought would just be a cool feature. You’re a girl! But now they’re going to treat you different.”
It’s an interesting point that can be applied to the wider elements of character creation. When playing as a mage in a fantasy game, why are you not treated differently than a warrior? Surely some people find mages more trustworthy due to their scholarly nature, while others would be frightened of the supernatural? The answer almost certainly is resources, but more money spent in this area would go a long way to making the world feel real.
The full Entertainment Weekly interview includes more interesting quotes on the efforts required to turn a show into a successful game, and you should certainly check it out.