As history has shown us, licensed games have a way of turning out poorly. It seems to be due to a lack of support, lack of development time, and the unfortunate desire to make a game to for the sake of it. However, Ubisoft is changing how people think about licensed games through their series, South Park.
Back in 2013, Ubisoft released South Park: The Stick of Truth. The title was easily one of the most enjoyable and surprising experiences of the year. This says a lot considering The Last of Us and Grand Theft Auto V also released during that year. The Stick of Truth delivered an authentic, true-to-form take on the South Park series. The game even expanded it in surprising, new ways.
The first South Park game received enough support from fans that next month will see the second installment arrive. Many thought a sequel would not happen, per the show’s creators initially not wanting it. Desires changed and hearts led them into a different direction, one that will see the release of South Park: The Fractured But Whole this Oct. 17.
A number of features and improvements are improving in South Park: The Fractured But Whole. Some of them are certainly going to be more obvious to players, while others might be a bit subtle. We Write Things recently had the chance to sit down to speak with The Fractured But Whole‘s associate producer Kim Weigend. We hope you enjoy the following conversation.
WWT: Combat seems to be improved from the first game. What is the biggest change or improvement that players will notice between The Fractured But Whole‘s combat and Stick of Truth‘s?
Kim Weigend: The combat system in South Park: The Fractured but Whole has been rebuilt from the ground up to allow for more tactical RPG gameplay, which leads to some pretty big changes from combat in The Stick of Truth. In The Fractured but Whole, you’ll see a new combat grid system which allows your character and the kids of South Park to now move around in combat. This opens up possibilities for not only doing direct attacks at enemies, but also setting up combos by knocking enemies into objects, other enemies and even your allies for extra damage and free hits. We’ve also expanded your party size, so you can now bring 3 additional characters into combat as your allies in battle. Finally, we’ve added a “time” mechanic that will allow you to use the power of your farts to bend time and modify combat to your advantage.
WWT: What are some new abilities the team wanted to add?
Weigend: We really wanted to keep the best features from The Stick of Truth combat, while providing players with more choices and mechanics to keep combat fresh and interesting throughout the game. Each combat buddy has a set of powers that can be used on their turn, and you can customize the loadout of your main character powers from many different super hero classes that you unlock as you play through the game.
WWT: How much did recent seasons influence the new abilities we’ll see?
Weigend: While we showcase some new characters and jokes from the recent seasons of South Park, we really wanted to go back to the original Coon and Friends episodes from Season 14 and showcase the power sets that the kids would have for their superhero personas. With such unique personas like Mosquito, Human Kite, Toolshed, and The Coon, we had a lot of fun creating powers and superhero archetypes to use in combat.
WWT: I know this is a loaded question but what’s the funniest moment you’ve seen from this game?
Weigend: Well, I certainly don’t want to give away any spoilers! Honestly, there are so many good punch lines and jokes throughout the game that it’s difficult to choose a favorite. But to take a step back from the big jokes, I would like to say that some of the best moments I’ve had are when I’m in combat and I hear the characters talk to each other. There are little one-off lines or jokes that the kids say to each other, based on what you just did or based on the situation they’re in, and it’s hilarious and sometimes very unexpected.
WWT: Are there any odd locations from the first game that will be revisited in the sequel?
Weigend: There will definitely be some familiar areas that players can explore in The Fractured but Whole. But, in true South Park fashion, we’re not just going back and re-hashing the same things – we’re taking players to new places in South Park, and I think fans of the show and fans of Stick of Truth will be very happy with where we end up in the game.
WWT: What did the team learn from the first game that has made development on this second game easier or more smooth?
Weigend: In developing The Fracture but Whole we worked directly with South Park Digital Studios to take assets from the TV show and import them directly into our game engine. It was great to take real art and character rigs from the show and utilize them in our game, which overall makes it look and feel more like a real episode of South Park. I think South Park also learned a lot about how video games are made through The Stick of Truth, so many of the lessons learned and best practices were kept in mind for developing The Fractured but Whole.
WWT: Have Matt and Trey been as involved with this second project as the first one? What’s that line of communication been like on this game compared to the first?
Weigend: Matt and Trey were very involved in the development of The Fractured but Whole. We worked directly with them on scripting and planning from early on in the project, and they’ve been with us every step of the way since. Our team at Ubisoft San Francisco strived to be flexible and accessible whenever South Park wanted to meet. We’d usually have one or two leads-level meetings a week between our studios when we were in full swing production on the game.
WWT: In an industry where the majority of games strike serious cords with players, how important is it to have games that make us laugh?
Weigend: I think it’s extremely important to explore different genres in videos games, especially comedy. With how crazy and sometimes scary our real world is, it can be very therapeutic and wonderful to disconnect for a while and play a game for the pure enjoyment of it. I also believe that laughter is the best medicine. But this doesn’t mean that comedy games can’t strike serious cords with players as well – comedy is a great way to bring to light issues that can be difficult to talk about.
WWT: I thought the first South Park game could’ve won Game of the Year in 2014. If The Fractured But Whole doesn’t win the Game of the Year award in 2017, what award do you think it’ll most likely to win? (Have fun with this 🙂 )
Weigend: Oh, it will win Game of the Year in 2017. If it doesn’t, then I think we’ll certainly win fan favorite of the year. With so much content in our game and a compelling storyline with some of the most well-known comedic characters, how could it NOT win? Plus, we all know Cartman will throw a fit if he doesn’t get all the top awards. 😉
WWT: What will fans be surprised by the most in The Fractured But Whole?
Weigend: I think there are some people out there thinking “how can they possibly match the greatness of The Stick of Truth?” There’s certainly a lot of pressure on our end to make an excellent game that will rival the fun and hilarity of the first game. I truly believe that fans will be very pleasantly surprised by how much we’ve built upon the first game, how complex and fun the story is, and how compelling our new combat mechanics are. I’m very excited to start seeing people play the game and watch their reactions as they start unraveling the secrets and mysteries of South Park: The Fractured but Whole.
Ubisoft is preparing to launch South Park: The Fractured But Whole this coming Oct. 17. The game will be available on PS4, PS4 Pro, Xbox One, Xbox One X and PC. Stick around here at We Write Things for more on South Park.