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How Alien: Isolation invokes more horror from one alien

Alien: Isolation is starting to make its case as to why it won't be like certain other Alien games, beginning with its smarter, deadlier xenomorph.


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.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
  • reply
    January 9, 2014 12:30 PM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, How Alien: Isolation invokes more horror from one alien.

    Alien: Isolation is starting to make its case as to why it won't be like certain other Alien games, beginning with its smarter, deadlier xenomorph.

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      January 9, 2014 12:46 PM

      The interview over on RPS made me delighted that they're spending so much time working on the AI.

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        January 9, 2014 1:22 PM

        We all know how well CA is with fine tuning the AI

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      January 9, 2014 1:59 PM

      It's too bad more and more games are following this suit. Much like when tower defense games were all the rage (once again?) a couple years back. Now, we have this crap where all you do is run away from the fun. Boring. If I wanted to run away from the action I'd just boot up pac-man and that's going on 35 years old.

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        January 9, 2014 2:01 PM

        good news, they already made the Aliens game for you! it's called: every sci fi FPS since Doom.

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        January 9, 2014 2:21 PM

        Sarcasm....? Can't tell.

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        January 9, 2014 2:24 PM

        It's like Dark Souls.

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        January 9, 2014 2:25 PM

        Go play aliens colonial Marines, it sounds like it's right up your alley.

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        January 9, 2014 2:28 PM

        Not everyone wants to feel like a superhero in every game. Do you play more than one genre?

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        January 9, 2014 2:30 PM

        Trends? In MY games industry?

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        January 9, 2014 2:38 PM

        Yes there are way too many survival horror games out today compared to action FPS.

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        January 9, 2014 9:56 PM

        I think the internet has ruined my ability to detect sarcasm, I honestly can't tell if you are serious.

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        January 9, 2014 10:14 PM

        Frankly, I agree with him, in this tiny Aliens Specific Arena. I'd much MUCH rather have a good shooty bang bang acid blood WIERZBOWSKIIIIIIII Aliens game than an Outlast: Alien Total Conversion.
        But then we really have GEARBOX to blame for that, don't we?

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      January 9, 2014 2:33 PM

      The pitch, and what we actually end up playing. I hope it turns out good.

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