Tuesday, December 18, 2012

An Interview with D3Publisher - Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable

Due out early in 2013 is D3Publisher's Vita release of Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable. To learn more about this upcoming title, we were able to chat with Miki Takahashi, Assistant Producer at D3Publisher, about EDF2017 Portable.

Greetings, and thank you for talking with us about Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable. First off, could you share a little bit about EDF for those unfamiliar with the series?

Miki Takahashi (Assistant Producer): Earth Defense Force 2017 ("EDF3" in Japan) launched on Xbox 360 in 2007 in North America as a third-person shooter developed by Sandlot and published by D3Publisher.

The story is set in the year 2017. The Ravagers, who are vile alien visitors from outer space, are coming to Earth to destroy mankind. The Earth Defense Force is all that stands man between thousands of gigantic bugs and the end of the world in a realistic urban sprawl that is doomed for total destruction. We put you in the shoes of a member of the EDF; a group of highly trained soldiers. YOU ARE Earth's last line of defense!

Since this is a portable version of an earlier console release, how true is this to the console version?

Takahashi: The core of the game (the 3D arcade action and the system features) remain the same as in EDF2017, but Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable is completely remastered from the Xbox 360 version by adding many additional features that include an online co-op mode, new missions, enemies and weapons, and a new playable character in Pale Wing.

With the added online play, you can now play a co-op and versus game with up to four players in North America and Europe. The game has a total of 60 missions, including seven new missions, and all of them can be played with your friends. New missions and weapons are designed in consideration of multiplay, so you'll find many new weapons are useful through cooperative actions with multiple players.

In addition to these new features, the fan favorite Pale Wing can also be unlocked in the game. This flying female playable character will lets you soar above buildings in her jet pack.

Often developers will try to craft a new version of a series that is tailor made for a portable system. Why not a portable version that's different from the console version?

Takahashi: As we announced recently, Sandlot is currently developing Earth Defense Forth 2025 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. With Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable, we're hoping the EDF fans can refresh their excitement of EDF game as well as enjoying many new features added to the Vita version.

Also, the handheld EDF could be a good start for the users who are new to the EDF world. The high performance of Vita allowed us to bring the EDF world on the handheld console. With the horde of enemies still covering your screen, you'll be able to enjoy the whole EDF world from anywhere.

Why is the Vita a good fit for EDF 2017? What system features of the Vita are being used here? How do you feel the game benefits from these?

Takahashi: Touchscreen and the rear touch pad are used to move camera in the advanced controls while they're used to aim crosshair in the basic controls. It's optional and players can turn on and off. With it on, the users can explore the new Vita controls. If users would prefer to stick to the traditional EDF controls, they can definitely do so with it off.

The game also supports Wi-Fi connectivity to allow multiplayer online co-op and battle features.

EDF seems to be a cult hit in Japan in somewhat here in the US. What aspects make EDF such a "gamer's game"?

Takahashi: One of the biggest characteristics in EDF is the countless number of huge insects coming to attack you, and in no time you'll find yourself feeling exhilarated at shooting down non-stop swarms of attackers ranging from giant ants, spiders, and robots. There are five difficulty levels in the game; Easy, Normal, Hard, Hardest, and Inferno. At first you'll feel the most difficult level is insanely difficult. However, the more difficult levels you enter, the stronger weapons you can find in the game. By the time you get to the Inferno mode, your avatar should have the weapons and stamina that are enough to withstand all sorts of enemies. Selecting the right weapons is crucial in this game, since you can carry only 2 weapons. You can enjoy hundreds of hours of gameplay to challenge yourself by trying out the different strategies and weapons.

Could you please detail the online features for us? Are there differences in gameplay between local and online play? Any other online or multiplayer features you'd like to share?

Takahashi: There are four multiplayer modes; Online Co-op, Online Versus, Local Co-op, and Local Versus. Each mode can be played with up to 4 players. In Multiplay Mode, you can play with other users by either searching for an existing room and simply joining it or becoming a "parent" who creates a room to recruit other players. When you create a room, you can define your settings such as weapon and troop restrictions. To recruit other players, you can post your comments on the Lobby screen and chat with other players in the room. During the gameplay, you can also communicate with other players by using the pre-defined messages. Play strategically to protect the world from aliens!

What are the chances of seeing more EDF on the Vita?

Takahashi: I think it would be great to see more EDF on the PlayStation Vita, however we need to launch Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable first and then hopefully we can see more EDF iterations in the future on the Vita.

Is there anything else about EDF 2017 Portable that you'd like to share with our readers?

Takahashi: Earth Defense Force 2017 is the first in the series to feature four-player multiplayer. If you get stuck with a tough mission that you cannot clear, please remember that playing with your friends is a much easier and fun way to beat it. The gear that any player picks up in the mission will be shared with all players, that will help you in your future battles. Also, many new weapons specialize in cooperative gameplay, and players can now assist and revive your fallen allies. For example, the new weapon "Reverser" can be used to restore the health of your vehicle or your character. Since the rule is that you can only carry 2 weapons, it doesn't help if you are alone, but when in a group with multiple players, it becomes very effective. Get together with your friend and chat about sharing roles before entering the mission.

Also, the long awaited flying female playable character, Pale Wing has been added. She can be unlocked when certain conditions are met. With her flying ability, you will get to play the game in a completely different way, since she can jump on the building and attack the enemies from the sky.

Many thanks to Miki Takahashi as well as the D3Publisher PR team who helped to arrange this interview. Readers can look forward to the release of Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable in early 2013, both in stores and via the PlayStation Network.

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