The Average Gamer

InFAMOUS Second Son: Ken Schramm on Native Americans, the DUP and Morality

InFAMOUS Second Son - Delsin and Reggie
InFAMOUS: Second Son will be out for the PlayStation 4 on 21st March and I caught up with Ken Schramm, Brand Development Director at Sucker Punch Productions to talk about the new game. Playing as new protagonist Delsin Rowe (voiced by Troy Baker), it’s a standalone game that starts seven years after the events of the previous two games. As a conduit, a person with superpowers, Delsin’s conduit ability lets him absorb powers from other conduits. The focus on choosing good vs evil isin still a dominant theme in the game and has been more tightly integrated into the mechanics. More than just hurting or healing people, you’ll now have in-combat choices like shooting opponents in the leg to disable them, or in the head for a more permanent solution.

Morality – how has that changed compared to the past couple of games?

Ken Schramm: Morality, karma, you can play in different ways. The biggest thing for Second Son is that it’s gonna be two distinct game playthroughs. We really feel that if you don’t play our game twice you’re gonna miss out on a lot of content.

It separates into two different playthroughs which then filters down into two different story endings and affects the powers and the story and the environment itself as well.

You’ve introduced things like shooting people in the leg instead of the head. Can you tell me more about… is that the only difference?

KS:That’s one of the examples within the powers when you get your playthroughs. As you go through your two different playthroughs, one of the things affected is the powers. What you’re talking about is the neon power set with our precision targetting. That’s one of the things with the neon power set that you can do – be precise. You can go from a distance, almost like a sniper, bring it in close. And at that point in time or even within combat we’re making you choose between good and evil, if you will, with blue markers that glow at the shins which will basically knock ’em down, whereas hitting them in the head would obliterate them.

Can you tell me about Delsin’s relationships with other characters?

Sure, sure, the game’s called Second Son for a reason, right? He’s the second son of the family. Reggie, who you’ve probably seen in the trailers and such, is his older brother. He’s the successful one in the family. He’s the local cop who can do no wrong. And then there’s Delsin, the 24 year old Native American who’s still trying to live up to his big brother. A lot of the story is about their relationship as they go through their adventure in Seattle.

inFAMOUS Second Son - Neon MeleeDoes that change whether or not Delsin goes around killing people?

The game’s about choice, right? If Delsin goes the evil route, that relationship with his older brother will be strained because with him being a local cop it’s just a totally different relationship that they’ll go through. If he’s good then it’s more in tune with what Reggie believes in as well. Again, it goes back to those two different playthroughs. You’re talking right into why we preach that.

Can you tell me about the women in the game?

I can tell you about Fetch. She’s a character that you’ve seen. She’s the neon conduit – conduits are what we refer to as humans with superpowers, or the gene, if you will. She’s got the neon power. She goes out there and that’s one of the big first choices you’re gonna have to make. Whether to redeem her or whether to corrupt her. From there, once you make that choice, throughout the rest of the game Fetch’s character will resemble that choice you make there.

You guys have gone with a Native American protagonist. There have been a lot of conversations lately about race representation and gender. Was that a big factor?

In choosing Delsin Rowe as a Native American – we didn’t look at it as an ethnic thing really. The game is set in Seattle and if one was familiar with the Pacific North-West of the United States, there’s a lot of Native American tribes within there. I mean, our lake’s called Lake Sammamish for goodness sake. There’s lots of tributes to the Native American culture there and it felt right. It felt part of the story and it fits.

Can you tell me how the DUP has affected Seattle?

The DUP actually come in after the events of InFAMOUS 1 and 2, so the remaining conduits are being hunted down by this agency that was created to hunt them down – the Department of Unified Protection and a couple of them escaped into Seattle so you’re gonna have to go and track them down. The couple that we’ve introduced already is the smoke and the neon conduit. And of course you’re gonna have to track a few more down. It’s interesting how the DUP has oppressed the city and it’s the place where Second Son has taken place 7 years after those events. They’ve come into Seattle and within a week locked it down with all these breakables. What we like to call checkpoints in the DUP-controlled areas. But if you notice in our game design, that’s where we incorporate a lot of our breakables. When you’re moving within a week into a city, there’s not permanent structures. Think more like rock concert structures. It was fun to be able to design and put that into our game to make it fun.

InFAMOUS Second Son - CrossingSo can Delsin grab powers from people or is it environments?

Just people, just people. It’s what we refer to as conduits, and if you have the conduit gene then that person will be able to have a power and whether it’s smoke, whether it’s neon, that’s where it goes. We’ll have a few more powers to reveal as well.

We saw one of the DUP guys could shield people with concrete. Can we get that?

Yeah, you should probably be asking questions like, “Wow, how’d they get those concrete powers and are we gonna get those?” Well, I’m not gonna tell ya. [laughs] But good question.

All right, thank you very much.