How Alien: Isolation invokes more horror from one alien

The next Aliens game from Sega takes a decidely different approach than last year's Colonial Marines. Whereas you had to engage hordes of aliens, The Creative Assembly pits players against a lone xenomorph in Alien: Isolation. According to lead designer Gary Napper, the intelligent behavior of the creature should be more than enough to keep players terrified.

"We have several layers of behavior we can add to the alien," Napper tells PC Games N. "We can make things available to the level designers so they can tweak his behavior in certain ways. So if the alien's going to be more of a threat up in the rafters or behind the scenes, they can do things to make him burst out of vents in places and then attack the player--and it's those sorts of traps we're talking about. So he's not 'laying traps' so to speak, he himself is laying in wait."

Napper adds that the alien AI exercises its senses when it hunts, though adjustable difficulty levels will determine how frequently the xenomorph hunts. The idea of eschewing scripted events in favor of sophisticated enemy AI has led to some interesting reactions from testers. For example, Napper says one hid in a locker (only for the xenomorph to puncture through a wall and kill him seconds later), while another tried a direct approach by tossing objects at the alien from behind cover and running for a nearby exit. It didn't work, but does give an insight on how players can defend themselves against a highly-intelligent extraterrestrial killer.

"You can find things like you can maybe use to distract the alien or construct some things that would help you defend yourself against the alien," Napper added. "And like I said, all of these things are things that the alien reacts to and then ends up learning from. So if you can imagine... I don't want to go into too much detail and spoil it but imagine you're on this space station that was designed for like, five thousand people, it's in its last stages of operation, it's kind of failed and there are only a few hundred people left – imagine what you'll find in that environment and use and that's the type of thing that we're aiming for."

Alien: Isolation will arrive on PC, Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, and PS3 in late 2014.