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Splinter Cell: Blacklist's online features revealed: progression, unlocks and Fourth Echelon

"I don't want to have a main menu in the game," says creative director

Speaking to OXM in an interview we snuck onto the internet minutes ago, like Sam Fisher sneaking an IED under a toilet door, Splinter Cell: Blacklist creative director Maxime Beland has shed a bit of light on the game's unannounced online features.

In brief, it'll merge progression across the single player, co-op and multiplayer, drawing on the game's premise, which sees Sam take charge of the eminently well-connected Fourth Echelon counter-terrorism organisation. "That's probably the main thing we haven't talked about," Beland told us. "My dream, and I don't know if we'll be able to do it - I don't want to have a main menu in the game."

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"When we started on the project we worked with some consultants and one of the things that stuck with us was that he told us that during 9/11, the US government had information but they were flooded with other information, and they never made it to the good people that could actually do something about it. So there's this kind of information overload, but they can't parse it fast enough and act on it.

"So we had this idea that right, Sam can have that," he went on. "What if Sam has a supercomputer or a cloud of computers that connected to all the NSA, the CIA, the FBI, even the world-wide web - connected and analysing data in real-time. It's giving Sam an overview of the status of what's happening.

"And what we're doing for the game is that there will be a world map that shows you not the single-player stuff, but co-op and adversarial. So we're blurring the lines between what's single player, co-op and adversarial. And we're going to talk about it later, I can't now - they've briefed me. But basically you're Sam Fisher, you're in your plane, you're Fourth Echelon, you've got your team with you, you're in front of the SMI, and then you choose - am I doing this mission, a single-player mission, am I doing this mission, it's a co-op mission, or am I doing adversarial stuff?"

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"And I can't - it's super-cool, we'll be talking about it," Beland teased. "What we're doing is we want to blur the lines between all that and we're going to have an economy system, that transfers between all the modes. So it's not going to be a system that's just for single player or just for adversarial. Regardless of where you're playing, Sam's making money and Sam can spend that money in single player, co-op or adversarial.

"You're going to be able to buy guns, upgrade guns, buy gadgets like new goggles, and also you're going to be customising your op suit. The op suit is not just visual, it's gameplay. We talked about action and stealth - depending on how you want to play, you're going to be able to equip things that give you more health, that block bullets more, boots that make less noise when you walk."

All pretty standard stuff for an online component, really, but it'll be interesting to see how they integrate everything. Billed as the "biggest, most ambitious" effort yet, Blacklist multiplayer restores the much-loved Spies vs Mercenaries competitive mode from Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow.

For more from Beland, including thoughts on the series wobble that is Splinter Cell: Conviction, read the interview in full.

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