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Thief leaves XP system on the mantelpiece


Thief is out of the shadows; here’s our Thief review.

Garrett is a master thief, and has been so since 1998. His covering letter to Eidos Montreal foolishly claimed he was committed to a career of lifelong learning, though, which led to the implementation of a comprehensive progression system in his latest adventure. You might have noticed it in the E3 demos – a rolling XP total that popped up from time to time on the left-hand side of the screen; a UI reminder of PC games’ debt to D&D.

Well, that’s gone now.

The XP system caused mild uproar in the wake of E3, where Garrett could be seen rewarded with XP for headshotting a guard – deemed distinctly unthiefy behaviour. In a Q&A yesterday, game director Nic Cantin agreed that the system was reducing player motivation to steal.

“The main goal of a thief should be to gain loot,” he said. “Garrett is already the Master Thief, so we saw no need to have XP as a core mechanic.”

“We wanted to put emphasis on stealing things, and put the rewards on the stealing aspect,” added lead level designer Daniel Windfeld Schmidt. “We want to allow the player to decide the ‘how to’ – we shouldn’t judge how the player wants to achieve their goal, only reward them for achieving it.”

Schmidt revealed that the post-E3 reaction had been instrumental in Eidos’ decision to remove the system.

“Fans might be surprised how often the devs go to the forum to see how things are perceived in the ‘real world’,” he said. “This feedback is extremely valuable to us, so as you can imagine, the consistent reaction to the XP system was something that indicated we needed to revisit some design decisions.”

“It is more a design decision to add to our economy system and entice the player to steal more,” said Cantin. “But yes, the E3 reaction was right, rewarding killing like that was wrong for a Master Thief.”

In XP’s stead, Eidos will encourage players to use the gold ‘earned’ from big empty mansions to buy stealthier or more aggressive tools, a little like – whisper it – Dishonored.

Our Steve found himself whispering Dishonored’s name a lot while he laid his hands on Thief. It’s hard to know whether the inevitable comparison will work in Eidos’ favour or see their efforts pale in the eyes of players trained to expect the seminal. What do you lot reckon?

Ta, PC Gamer.