It’s no secret that when We Happy Few first launched in Early Access many gamers were disappointed by the survival mechanics and the lack of a narrative. Luckily developer Compulsion Games took those criticisms to heart and decided to dial back the survival element and put story more at the forefront.
As a result, We Happy Few feels a lot closer to the title teased in that E3 trailer a few years ago. And as Compulsion told Game Informer, what was once planned to be a 1-hour repeatable experience is now a 20-hour, narrative-driven game.
“We’ve really moved away from a highly repeatable one-hour game to a 20-hour experience. Maybe, we should just put it all in there.”
There are still elements of that survival experience in We Happy Few but there are significantly toned down. When we went hands-on with the game at E3 last month, there were still meters tracking thirst, sleep, and hunger, but they were never nagging or intrusive. But when that Early Access demo first hit, managing meters was the core gameplay loop.
It was actually surprising how little of that initial Early Access demo was present at E3. For all intents and purposes, We Happy Few had become a completely different game, dialing down all of the things that were pitched as selling points two years ago. It does seem that some of that change was inspired by the response to that E3 2016 trailer, with Compulsion boosting its staff from 15 people to close to 40.
“But the early reception we got – everyone was so enthusiastic and we started getting comparisons to games like BioShock. We were 15 people at the time. So that’s an order of magnitude different from the team that built BioShock. We sort of looked at that and thought we had two options: we can keep building the small game we were thinking of. Or we can say, why don’t we give it a go? Why don’t we build the game we think people are expecting. That’s been the story of the last two years.”
Not everything about We Happy Few has changed so dramatically, though. There are open world sections that are still procedurally generated, so long as they aren’t key to the narrative. Compulsion even says that certain side quests or objectives might appear in one player’s game and not in another’s. It all depends on the procedural generation.
It’s unclear if some of that procedural generation will also trim or extend the completion time for We Happy Few, but a 20-hour game should sound promising for single player fans out there. Both BioShock games and Infinite were about on par with that, depending on how much exploring players did.
We Happy Few releases August 10, 2018 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
Source: Game Informer