As we start getting more and more excited for Thief's return, and as more details begin to emerge, it would appear that Garrett's Focus ability - similar to the overlays that Lara and Agent 47 have been touting of late - has become something of a sticking point for longtime hardcore series fans.
Not to worry: it'll be totally optional apparently.
"In the game, the Focus system is Garrett’s ability to focus and speed up his reaction times," said Game Director Nick Cantin. "From a game design perspective, Focus is a layer that empowers the player and empowers Garrett. But, it’s not something that you’re forced to use. It’s something that you manage, something that is one of the tools at Garrett’s disposal that he can use to tackle the various situations he is confronted with."
According to Cantin, "combat, marksmanship, lock picking and pickpocketing" can all be enhanced with liberal use of the Focus ability, but it won't be something that holds players' hands or reveals too much by way of navigation. Exploration is still a key consideration.
"We don’t want to kill that exploration by giving the player too much information or too many hints. It is a tool that can help the player, but it’s certainly not something that will hold your hand or guide you through the world."
Cantin noted that Focus is designed to empower the player, but he also acknowledged that there's a strong need for balance.
"Presently, it’s the completely the players choice to use Focus or not. If players want to challenge themselves to stick to Garrett’s basic abilities, they can.
"Garrett’s Focus ability is there to empower the player when they need it, to give Garrett an edge over those surrounding him - but it comes at a cost. It’s all about giving choice to the player, but it will not break the game balance.
"All I can say now is that Thief purists will have options - those types of players will definitely be pleased." [Eidos Montreal]