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Thief Xbox One interview - the City, horror, replay value and exploration

Producer Joe Khoury on the importance of showing, not telling

Let's face it, there was always going to be a backlash. This is Thief, after all - the origin point together with System Shock and Deus Ex for every first-person title that isn't purely about killstreaks and ironsights. Playing the game in October, I found myself getting irrationally upset about minor discrepancies or deviations from the formula. Since when did Garrett need a set of display cases? Why can't I shoot a Rope Arrow into this goddamn oil painting? And so on and so forth.

That's not to say that there isn't room for criticism - read my original Thief hands-on for more on that front - but developer Eidos Montreal has done a lot to win the trust of prickly fans. The studio culled the newfangled XP system following an outcry, for instance, and producer Joe Khoury is hopeful that players will learn to live with the changes and additions. After an hour in the City, I spoke to him about the importance of player choice, and how Thief's universe has buckled and shifted in the years since the equally controversial Thief: Deadly Shadows.

To get shot of the boring technical questions, how representative is your PC build of what we'll see on consoles?

Pretty close. I think for next gen consoles the visual fidelity will be closer than that. I'm not really sure about the exact differences between the PC version and the next gen ones.

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Have you made use of the Xbox One's motorised triggers, Kinect or other platform-specific features?

We haven't really announced any of that stuff yet. We're still evaluating what we can do with the actual peripherals.

Is there a Cradle-style level in this game?

There's some horror elements, for sure. A particular level? We haven't really discussed any of that stuff yet.

I guess you don't want to spoil the surprise.

That's the tricky part - knowing what we know and getting some of the comments that we get about it, I think we're just eager to release some information. If you were asking me, and he wasn't there, I'd be like 'hey, guess what we're doing!' I think there's definitely a time to be talking about every single thing, and we're definitely excited to be talking about it.

[PR interjects] A good answer is that we are aware that in the previous versions there was that standout level, so we looked at what worked in those games.

Are Hammerites and Pagans in the game?

They're in the game in a subtle way, as you'll see when the game releases. They're not in the game in the same way that they were in the first Thief, but we've given them an homage. Those guys in particular, we do give them a bit of a mention. It's a reimagining.

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Is it still the case that you're building the universe around an opposition between the industrial and the natural, between science and superstition?

It's not the machines. It's a struggle between the oppressed and the rich. It's the idea of finding a balance in a city that's been struggling for a long time with the poor having nobody to be a voice for them. The way the Baron sees the evolution is through technology, and through the machines, but also the underlying statement here is also that the people who have access to this technology are the rich and the elite - and that's where Orion comes in, where it's like at some point, the people need to stand up and say 'no, we're a part of this future as well'.

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