Perfect Dark: Answering the Big Questions from its Incredible First Gameplay Trailer

Perfect Dark Hero Image

Today, at Xbox Games Showcase, we got our first look at gameplay from Perfect Dark, a reboot of the classic secret agent series. The fascinating new trailer gave us hints to secret agent Joanna Dark’s mission, showed us her descent into the game’s near-future Cairo setting, and then gave us a tantalising glimpse of the all-new secret agent-inspired gameplay.

Of course, when you’re given a look at such a highly anticipated game, you’re always going to want to ask more questions – and thankfully I was able to go straight to the source to get more details from members of the development team. The Initiative is co-developing Perfect Dark with Crystal Dynamics and other partners that make up Team Perfect Dark. Let’s take a deeper look and answer some of those burning questions.

What Kind of Game Is This?

Perfect Dark is a first-person secret agent thriller in a near-future world. With the blessing of the original Perfect Dark studio, Rare (not to mention some of the leads from the original titles), Team Perfect Dark has pulled inspiration from elements of the first two games, but crafted an entirely new story and universe around them for this reboot.

For previous fans and new players alike, the new game offers a fresh take on the secret agent experience, and is a great opportunity to jump into the world and character. Though fans will have moments that resonate with the history and memories of the original games, no prior knowledge is needed in this new experience.

At the widest level, Perfect Dark will be a single-player experience, with a set of missions – but with choices offered in how you complete those missions. Looking at the trailer, it’s clear that traversal and gadgets are a huge part of this – we see new parkour abilities used throughout, both for movement and combat. The developers tell me that the focus was on creating an intuitive movement system, which will let players find interesting ways to tackle their objectives. Add to that a combat system that allows for both melee and gunplay, stealth mechanics, and liberal use of gadgets, and Perfect Dark is a game that will present players with an objective, but let them figure out how they want to achieve it.

Team Perfect Dark doesn’t want this to feel like any one genre – it takes in elements of first-person shooters, immersive sims, and stealth-action, but blends them into a seamless whole. The goal is to offer a true secret agent fantasy – and letting players use their various tools and abilities in the way they want is key to this.

Who is Joanna Dark?

In this reboot, Joanna (voiced by Alix Wilton Regan with Elissa Bibaud lending visual likeness) is an agent for dataDyne, with a deep personal connection to what’s happening to her world. In this case, the title Perfect Dark is more aspirational – this Joanna won’t be perfect, but she’s striving to be. She’ll make mistakes in this journey, and learn from those experiences. Learning who this Joanna is proves to be just as compelling as the story itself.

Where Is the Game Set?

Perfect Dark’s near-future world has been impacted by what’s known as “The Cascade,” in which the planet has suffered from a series of environmental disasters, rendering entire regions inhospitable to human life. In the wake of the disaster, a hypercorporation known as Core Mantis steps in to create a solution known as The GEN Network, and deploys it in Cairo – restoring ecological balance and creating a freshly walled city, insulated from the hostile environment outside to become a center for technological innovation.

In its wake, other hypercorporations step in to continue that regeneration – but, as you might expect, not all is as it seems, and their motives may be less altruistic than they appear. It is key that the setting communicates a hopeful future, seeing a world with both destruction and restoration, the bleakness of the past countered with a sense of promise.

It’s into Cairo that Joanna enters. The setting was chosen to offer a counterpoint to other secret agent stories, and media at large – ancient Egypt and modern Egypt have been seen by many, but a near-future take on the country is truly something new. Cairo itself allows for a balance of deeply old and startlingly new that suits the speculative fiction at the heart of Perfect Dark.

What’s Joanna’s Mission in the Trailer?

Joanna is being sent into Cairo to find and apprehend Daniel Carrington, and we see her enter a district called Garden City (and an area of Cairo in real life, too). In Perfect Dark, this is a more affluent and cosmopolitan area of the city, and Core Mantis has selected it to be revitalized by its new eco-technological processes.

We see Joanna find a hideout used by Carrington, who infiltrates Joanna’s AR system and begins to expose more information, and even more questions around the bigger mysteries in Cairo. Joanna will need to learn who can be trusted, and who might be working against her own goals, and Carrington’s role will be a major part of that.

What Can We Use Gadgets For?

Gadgets are a pillar of the secret agent genre. In the trailer, we get a tease of Joanna using a gadget to analyse NPC voices and create vocal “deepfakes” to trick security systems or impersonate other characters, as well as create distractions.

Gadgets can be used for misdirection and manipulation, but we also see that Joanna can use a tool to scan an NPC and learn details about them – it wouldn’t be a secret agent story without some fieldwork, and the developers tell me that parsing the world, around you will be a key part of understanding how to tackle your objectives.

How Does Combat Work?

With this first look at combat, it’s clear this is another aspect of player choice. In the trailer we see lethal and non-lethal weaponry, close-quarters combat, abilities that allow you to take down multiple enemies at once, and more. We can also go loud or go quiet, offering a risk-reward for both methods. Team Perfect Dark wants to create a “symphony” of mechanics, merging traversal, close-quarters-combat, gunplay, unlockable abilities, environmental elements, and gadgets into a unified experience for players.

Find out more about Perfect Dark here.