- Xbox Wire France sits down with Game Director Kévin Choteau to talk about the newly released Plague Tale: Requiem.
- The direct sequel to the acclaimed A Plague Tale: Innocence sees the return of Amicia and her brother Hugo and sets them on a perilous new quest.
- A Plague Tale: Requiem is available now for Xbox Series X|S, Windows, as well as with Xbox Game Pass, PC Game Pass, and Xbox Cloud Gaming (Beta).
A few years ago, we were introduced to Amicia and her brother Hugo in the epic (and rat-filled) adventure, A Plague Tale: Innocence. Today we’re incredibly excited to rejoin the two of them on their next adventure, A Plague Tale: Requiem, setting them off across a new sprawling quest that sounds even more perilous than what they’ve endured so far. To learn more about what’s in store, Xbox Wire France had a chance to sit down with Game Director Kévin Choteau to talk about the newly released A Plague Tale: Requiem, the challenges of following up a smash-hit game, and rats (of course).
After Innocence, the second part of A Plague Tale has a more ominous subtitle: Requiem, was it a logical evolution in the story you want to tell?
Innocence was really the main theme of the (first) game. We meet Amicia and Hugo with all their childlike innocence and when we get to the end of the game, it’s the end of that innocence, they can never be who they were before these events. That was the first stage of their lives, as much as Requiem is. And Requiem deals with very difficult themes, the main one being death, in all its aspects. I could talk about the death of their innocence, the death that surrounds them on a daily basis, the death that Amicia has to give in order to survive, and the impact it has on her. But Requiem, if it’s a funeral song, it’s also an ode to life, it’s closing a chapter to start something, like going to a funeral and saying goodbye to someone while preparing for a new day to begin. These are difficult themes, but the light is definitely there.
The first game took place in the southwest of France, but you decided to change the location for the sequel. Why this decision?
With Innocence, we were looking for authenticity at all costs, both in our characters and in the environment, and the most relevant way for us to do that was to have the title take place in our region. For Requiem, we decided to explore the southeast, Provence, but also the Mediterranean. These are regions where you feel much more the influence of other civilizations at the time, with a Roman, Moorish, or even Byzantine heritage. And the game takes place during the summer, while the first one took place in winter. This adds to the contrast; the landscapes are warm, colorful, sunny and yet the world around is still dark, bloody, and harsh.
Can we expect to come across a new threat inherent to this specific region?
Many highwaymen populated the trade routes in this region, especially in 1349. Following the arrival of the Plague, the Hundred Years War calmed down a bit and all the enlisted soldiers found themselves idle and formed large companies of brigands. This is an aspect of the Middle Ages that we wanted to emphasize, and it results in a new form of adversity in the game.
For Amicia, the end of Innocence also gives her a much more impressive arsenal. Can you tell us more about what she will wield in Requiem?
At the end of Innocence, Amicia had already killed quite a few people to protect her brother, but mostly to survive. In this game, she is clearly more seasoned, better prepared, she doesn’t let herself be surprised anymore and this is reflected in her abilities in terms of gameplay. She can now attack in close combat, counter attacks and even, later, use a crossbow. Using warrior weapons is a big step up from the slingshot she was using, which was originally just a toy. But all this is not free for her, it will have a huge impact on her evolution, her psyche, her identity, she will ask herself questions about who she is, who she will become and who she is afraid of becoming. And inevitably, this will have an impact on Hugo, who will see his sister much more liberated on this side and who will want to do like her. But the problem with Hugo is that his power is much greater, his potential for murder and destruction is much higher and it can be very dangerous to play with fire…
Should we expect a more action-oriented title as a result?
We wanted to give players a lot more freedom. Innocence was very narrow and often offered only one way to solve a situation. Now, most sequences can be approached in a low-key or warlike way, and you can even find an alternative that mixes the two options. We have also added a system that will make Amicia’s abilities evolve according to your play style. So, it will be up to you to decide whether you want to go for the infiltration route or for other more brutal solutions…
Rats are part of the identity of the series and are more and more numerous in this sequel. What does this mean for the players?
300,000 rats on the screen is very impressive, especially when they form a kind of tsunami to devastate everything in their path. Thanks to the power of Xbox Series X|S, we were able to create new systems for the rats: their attacks and movements are much more organic, they can overcome obstacles, climb several floors, etc. The result is a new dynamic, they can move more quickly and efficiently. The result is a new dynamic, they are no longer static at ground level and they can surprise you in many ways… In terms of spectacle as well as gameplay, this opens up a lot of possibilities, it’s a real pleasure to continue doing scary things with our rats…
Beyond this aspect, you decided to anchor your universe in history. Why this choice?
We wanted you to live the story of our characters, but without having to set up a world. If fantasy can be great, it also requires creating rules, to explain a universe, its construction, its people… The same can be said of science-fiction. And we wanted an authentic and realistic world, to be able to talk about the relationship between our characters. If we had decided to create a universe, we would have been forced to talk about that too and focus less on the relationship. And then we have a certain latitude, insofar as we rely on historical reality, but also on popular beliefs.
With its latest productions (A Plague Tale: Innocence, Microsoft Flight Simulator, A Plague Tale: Requiem), Asobo has been noticed for its virtuosity. Is this something you are proud of and do you feel, when you go back to work, a certain pressure, a need to do better and better?
For Innocence, we had the advantage of not being expected to do anything. And even if the game had been a failure, we wouldn’t have suffered too much. But things changed, the game was received in a rather incredible way by the public, then there was Microsoft Flight Simulator, which had exceptional scores, an incredible community and which is a game in perpetual evolution, with a continuous news… So obviously, today, we are less serene, we wonder if we have created the sequel that players want and if we will live up to the image of Asobo
A Plague Tale: Innocence arrived with Game Pass several months after its release, and Requiem is available day one. Did the success of the original game’s availability with Game Pass contribute to this decision?
We’re very happy that Innocence was included with Game Pass. It introduced the game to a lot of people who didn’t know about it, it broadened the audience very much and as developers, offering the game to as many people as possible is what we’re interested in. So we’re happy that Requiem will be available with Game Pass on day one, because those who liked Innocence will be able to directly find our universe and many players will perhaps discover the license through this way. It’s thanks to the players and their reception of Innocence that we thought it was interesting to make a sequel, I can’t thank them enough, it’s really thanks to them that we are here today. I really hope that you will be happy with what we have concocted, we put all our guts and soul into this game.
As a gamer, what do you think of Game Pass? Have you recently made any unexpected discoveries while browsing through its library?
I have a little boy who is almost seven years old, and I discovered with him all the Paw Patrol games that were added with Game Pass! That’s for the family side, but personally, Scorn was recently released, and I know I’ll play it… Actually, I try a little bit everything that comes out on Game Pass honestly. I like to be surprised!
Thanks to Kévin for taking the time to talk with us. A Plague Tale: Requiem is available to play today for Xbox Series X|S, Windows, as well as with Xbox Game Pass, PC Game Pass, and Xbox Cloud Gaming (Beta).
A Plague Tale: Requiem
A Plague Tale: Requiem – Windows