Eidos Montreal's next-gen Thief reboot broke cover yesterday as part of Game Informer's April cover story, but as usual, the eagle-eyed staff of Gaming Everything [via NeoGAF] have already filleted the juicy article for gameplay and story info. We can expect expansive freeform levels, a new focus mechanic and upgradeable gear, along with a more believable setting that eschews supernatural elements for a more human experience.
We've got the prime cuts below.
Garrett returns to his home town after a lengthy absence, only to find that the City is caught in the iron grip of a tyrannical Baron. Crushing the townspeople underfoot, and causing mass outcry amongst the populace, this new villain has turned the once-bountiful metropolis into a "a city of melting prosperity." Garrett, ever the opportunist, realises that the strife and political turmoil is the perfect opportunity to get rich quick, embarking on a series of daring raids against the wealthy elite to fill his coffers.
He's concerned with making bank rather than being a hero, and thus, the focus is always on quietly infiltrating targets, liberating their valuables and extracting as quietly as possible. Supernatural story elements will be downplayed if not totally ignored, thus making for a much more grounded setting.
Gameplay wise, Thief will offer large n0n-linear levels with numerous opportunities for infiltration. Players will be able to approach breaking and entering in any way they see fit, from pipes and vines to hidden passages or even sneaking in through the front door. Intelligent AI guards will be almost impossible to best in a straight fight, and will aggressively hunt Garrett if there's any hint of foul play. We'll therefore have to religiously stick to the shadows and rely on total darkness, extinguishable light sources and cleverly manipulating the systemic environment to succeed.
As an example of the latter, players will be able to hear unwary NPCs discussing locations of hidden valuables, create a diversion (or crush guards) by dislodging a heavy statue or even place opiates into ventilation systems to put entire barracks to sleep. Every drawer and cupboard will apparently be lootable, holding plenty of extra dosh and items to fence.
In terms of equipment, Garrett will wield his trusty blackjack cosh to bludgeon unwary guards (but creating an awkward body that will raise the alarm if discovered), and his ever-popular bow that boasts a range of ammunition types. A context-sensitive grappling hook will allow him to scale vertical surfaces, though it can only be used on certain objects. All weapons and gear will be upgradeable if you've got money to burn, thus giving us plenty of incentive to fill our pockets with as much swag as possible. Players will even be able to decorate a den with special artefacts, creating a personalised home base.
A new gameplay mechanic, Focus, acts much like Hitman: Absolution's Instinct system. Activating Focus Mode highlights interactive scenery objects (such as the aforementioned pipes and infilitration points), as well as weak spots on foes. As with equipment, its radius and area of effect can be upgraded. [Gaming Everything via NeoGAF]
Thief is slated for a 2014 release on next-gen consoles and PC, and we can't wait to see what the studio behind Deus Ex: Human Revolution can bring to the beloved franchise. We'll relay more details as we get them - and it might be worth picking up Game Informer's April issue if you're a fan of the series.