I do enjoy visiting horrible guts. I’ve leapt between the grinding teeth of The Many in System Shock 2, chainsawed a city-devouring worm’s heart(s) in Gears of War 2, and admired a meatwizard’s DIY skills in Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines. Now I’m keen to play Natural Selection 2: Combat, as developers Faultline Games have showed off its horrors of being devoured alive.
Being swallowed by a space-rhino will leave us trapped in its guts, desperately calling for help and pounding on meat as it closes around us and as acids fizz at our flesh before we reach, er, the finale of the digestion process. All from an appalling first-person view. What great guts!
NS2: Combat is a spin-off from Unknown Worlds’ Natural Selection 2, a standalone multiplayer murderfest doing away with the RTS side of the FPS-RTS to focus on deathmatching. The alien lineup includes a giant space-rhino, the Onos, which has the ability to devour a space marine. And unless someone kills the beast to free them or the marine beats it to death from the inside (which they actually can do), the Onos passes them.
After watching the new trailer, I immediately e-mailed Faultline to learn more about their guts.
“We want players to feel not only horrified at the idea of being eaten alive but that even after being devoured, there’s still a chance to destroy the beast and stay alive!” director and sound designer Thomas Loupe told me.
“The player can actually hear what’s happening outside in a muffled tone and inside extremely well. You’ll hear the actual heartbeat of the Onos as you punch your way back out! We’re also working on additional sound-effects to further that immersion of being acid-coated, whether it be glugging as you choke, or screaming at the intensity of the acid bath you’re receiving.”
I am so glad to see guts as a plain old recurring experience of play, not just a special level or extravagant death animation. “Welp,” you’ll groan, “It’s guts for me! Better start punching.”
I’m also very excited imagining players screaming over voice comms for someone to rescue them as they punch and slap at that meaty sphincter. It’s not only removing a marine from the team, it’s turning them into a weapon for the aliens. A coordinated attack collapses because someone wandered off alone and now they really want everyone to understand that they do not want to be in those guts. I remember that happening in the original Natural Selection, and only sometimes in a performative “Oh no, this is gross, save me from turning into poo and falling out a bottom” sort of way. But perhaps I’m too down on Internet players, and too enthusiastic about guts.
“We want to make sure the Devour isn’t just some overly-hyped ability that makes players rage when it happens,” Loupe explained. “That being said, we’ve made sure that devouring another player is a double-edged sword. There’s an equal chance you’ll live just as you’ll die.”
Faultline show a little more in a recent developer video Q&A.