My time with Lead Level Designer René-Martin Pauzé and Senior Level Designer Julien Hantz was dedicated entirely to the game's stealth gameplay. Going into development, the team had three core concepts in mind for the stealth gameplay. First, they went in making sure that they were not trying to redefine the stealth genre, but rather to make the stealth as polished and accessible as possible. Second, they wanted the stealth to involve a good deal of observation and tactical thinking. Third, they wanted players to have a tactical choice to make when opting for the stealthy approach. The game encourages two styles of stealth play, nicknamed the "ghost" and "ninja" approaches.
"Ghost" players are the kinds of players who like to get in to a mission site, get what they need, and get out without ever being seen. They don't opt to take down foes; in other words, they are a ghost. The "ninja" type players are the silent assassins, breaking in unseen and eliminating their enemies as efficiently and ruthlessly as possible. There are pros and cons to both methods, though. Being spotted or leaving bodies lying around activates a Metal Gear Solid-style "alert" phase, wherein the patrols are more diligent and thorough in their searches. Additionally, the alert phase also triggers the activation of additional security robots and cameras, so there is a definite advantage to the stealthy method. The team suggests that both styles have their own rewards, and that by utilizing a stealthy approach, players can learn a lot of additional backstory by overhearing conversations between enemies.
The mechanics of the stealth gameplay are more akin to Metal Gear Solid than Splinter Cell. Players won't have to worry about enemies spotting their shadow or anything of that nature–rather, stealth awareness is based on two factors: sight and sound. Players will have to be cautious not to knock anything over or make too much noise as they run around, lest they attract the attention of foes. Bearing that in mind while staying out of the enemies' lines of sight, Adam Jensen can sneak around to his heart's content.
After the end of the presentation proper, we had yet another chance to question the developers. When asked the usual question of whether the game is designed to be playable without augmentation, Pauzé and Hantz assured us that the game can be completed without augmentation; but players who opt for such an approach would be in for a challenge. Regarding stealth gameplay and ventilation shafts, they said that the team worked very hard to ensure that committing to the stealth path didn't mean players would be relegated to the air ductwork for the majority of the game and instead would experience a nice variety of environments. Interestingly enough, Hantz and Pauzé also mentioned that the game's fluid cover system, which allows a player to stay in cover even as they round corners and edges, was implemented later in development, as a result of a tester frequently popping out of cover simply to step around corners and edges.
©2011 Square Enix, Eidos Montreal. All Rights Reserved.