When the first trailer
appeared for SSX: Deadly Descents
, many people complained that it was too dark and too serious; that it didn't seem to capture the friendly and fun atmosphere that fans had come to expect from the SSX franchise. EA Canada has listened to these complaints, and they have become so concerned with them that they have removed the 'Deadly Descents' subtitle. From now on, the game will be known simply as SSX
managed to corner creative director Todd Batty for an exclusive interview, who tried to allay gamers' fears about whether the game was trying to be too serious:
No, absolutely not. Our core statement from day one has been, “survive it, race it, trick it.” And in that, we have designed three major types of gameplay. One being Deadly Descent, which is all about survival gameplay. It’s a new addition to the franchise. But I’ve always thought racing was the core of SSX, and we didn’t want to go away from that, so we’re going to have Speed Descent events, and of course we’ll have tricks in our Tricky Descent events. We wanted to make sure we hit the over-the-top arcadey gameplay in all of these different gameplay modes. We decided to lead with the new Deadly Descent gameplay in that trailer, but all of the classic SSX style will be there, too.
Here are more details regarding the new Deadly Descent game mode:
We thought SSX had two types of racing before: racing and trick events. We wanted to expand on the universe of SSX. We wanted to look at how we could bring the mountain alive in a way that the mountain was putting forth a challenge for the player. If you look at past SSXs you had huge chasms that you could jump, but we wanted to do other things like that. SSX 3 kind of had an avalanche, but we thought we could do that a thousand times better with the new systems. We have an amazing avalanche design. So we’ll have more things like avalanches and rockslides, and falling stalactites. In Deadly Descent the challenge will be just making it to the bottom alive.
The game will span 18 mountain ranges across the globe. The Himalayas, Kilimanjaro, Siberia, Caucasus, Antarctica and The Alps had already been confirmed in a roundup
that we posted at the start of January, but Batty has now also confirmed that Alaska, The Calanques Mountains, the Andes, and Mount Fuji will also be included. Overall, EA are aiming for about 70 mountains to be included:
We’re a little challenged with how many levels we can put on the disc, honestly, but we’re thinking it will be somewhere in the vicinity of 70 mountains. By comparison, SSX 3 had one. The hub works kind of like Google Earth. You can spin the globe around and pick a mountain range you like then zoom in on that and pick a mountain you like from there, then you get to race down the crazy arcade courses that we’ve built on top of real-life mountains. You could stand on the summit of Mount Everest and look around 4,000 miles in any direction. You can see the view from the rooftop of the world. So imagine if a slopestyle team had a billion dollars to concoct a giant SSX style track experience on top of the largest mountain in the world. That’s what we’ve done in the game, but we’ve done it all over the world.
Batty confirmed that there will be a story mode:
...we decided to come up with something a little more fresh. We looked at the mountaineering sport, because there are a lot of cool goals within the sport of mountain climbing. There is something within the mountaineering community called the Seven Summits where mountain climbers try to climb to the top of the seven largest mountains in the world. So we decided to create our own thing around this called the Nine Deadly Descents, which is nine of the most iconic mountains in the world. Each one is themed by an environmental challenge and a cultural significance that makes these mountains unique from each other, but the overarching goal of the game is to work your way up from a junior boarder and survive the Nine Deadly Descents. We’re kind of thinking of them like they were boss challenges.
The reveal trailer showcased two new additions to the game: the wing suit and the ice pick. These are part of the new rewards system linked with the way that equipment is used:
We want to make sure our reward system keeps people wanting to play the game for a long time. In the past, players were able to trick out their characters with new gear, but aside from a board that might let you go a little bit faster, most of the gear that you put on your character was strictly aesthetic. We want to really invest in the gear, so you can earn a bunch of new gear that gives you new mechanics in the game.
Wings suits are really cool... They’ve actually become very prevalent in snowboarding and base-jumping communities. [...] If you think about the design possibilities with these, you can jump into the air, do a bunch of tricks, pop open your wing suit, and then coast across a 500-foot gap to a safe landing. You’d get a bunch of extra trick points for that.
Ice axes are another piece of gear that let you do things like a wall vault move in Prince of Persia, or say you jump across a chasm, and you almost make it but you slide off the edge, instead of falling to your doom, you can smash those ice axes into the wall, vault yourself up, and keep going. Players will have a lot of gear like this that they can equip to their character, which will change how they tackle a mountain challenge.
As this will be the first SSX game to hit the Xbox 360, Batty was asked whether they had felt the need to update the trick system.
There were many things with the trick system that we thought we could improve on. The old trick system was always fairly two-dimensional. You’d be on a track, but there were always walls that pinned you in, so if you went off the track you always got warped back. We wanted to create an open environment where you could ride anywhere.
The second thing we wanted to improve on was that the trick system of the past was 100 percent animation based, you’d press a button and get an animation, you’d press this combo of buttons and get a different animation. That’s okay, but we work very closely with the Fight Night Round 4 team, which has one of the most advanced physics systems possible, so we took the underlying code in their system and put it in our game to augment the trick system. We want players to be able to ride off anywhere, at anytime, and vault into the air at ridiculous speeds and heights, and we want players to be able to flip and spin and roll on any axis to create an infinite amount of tricks.
Then we layer in all the grabs, kick flips, and all the other over-the-top tricks that SSX is famous for. We’ve looked at games like Trials HD, which have a more fluid and natural system. What they did was a kind of two-dimensional physics, so you could flip and twist your bike around at any range or speed. We’re taking that same feeling and bringing it into three dimensions. It’s actually a really easy system to use. People are able to figure out how to do some amazingly cool things without us having to tell them how to play the game.
Batty also confirmed that there will be a lot of returning characters. So far, the only returning character that has been confirmed is Elise, who is "sort of the poster child and cover girl of SSX". EA are not committing to any more characters at the moment.
Unfortunately, a release date has not yet been confirmed for SSX