The upcoming Driver San Francisco will be “more accessible than any other Reflections game”, according to its developer.
The Newcastle studio’s previous works have often been exacting, but Driver San Francisco’s lead designer Jean-Sebastien Decant says that, under the watchful eye of Ubisoft, which acquired the developer in 2006, production of the series’ return has been focused on one word.
“Accessibility,” he says. “In the history of Reflections they have made tough games for hardcore gamers. And this one, the core experience is more accessible than any Reflections game.”
Fans of the series suddenly fearing the worst – that Ubisoft Reflections, seeking a wider audience, has taken away the challenge present in earlier games – can rest easy, according to Decant. “It’s not about making it easy,” he says. “It’s about having the right ‘helpers’ so that the AI is challenging but not unfair – for chases, races, getaways. The player has to know what he has to do in an instant.
“Having the proper information always displayed – especially in a game where you can be in any car at any time, where we change the gameplay a lot from one mission to another – accessibility applies to signs, feedback, UI.”
That ambition applies to Driver San Francisco's online multiplayer, too, with studio manager Gareth Edmondson explaining that the game’s Shift mechanic – which allows players to move from vehicle to vehicle in an instant – helps level the playing field, resulting in an online driving experience that engages players beyond the first turn.
“There’s always been a problem with multiplayer games, that you crash into the first corner and you’re out of the action,” he explains. “Shift totally changes that, and it creates a much more accessible, much more engaging experience. It totally changes the way you play the game.”
We spoke to Reflections as part of our in-depth preview of Driver San Francisco, which is set for release in September. The full preview is in our new issue, E228, which should be with subscribers in the coming days and at all good newsagents on May 10.