Berserk and the Band of the Hawk Interview: Producer Talks Gameplay, Frame Rate, Violence and More
After the quite satisfying experience with Attack on Titan, Koei Tecmo is working on another popular anime series, bringing Berserk and the Band of the Hawk to PS4, PS3, PS Vita and PC on February 21st in North America and February 24th in Europe.
At Tokyo Game Show, DualShockers had a chance to chat with Producer Hisashi Koinuma, asking him about several aspects of the game and of its development.
Giuseppe Nelva: Last year I asked you about the possibility of a game based on Berserk, and you kind of smiled and answered that you’d rather do one on Star Wars. Did you already know about this title back then?
Hisashi Koinuma: It was a standing interview at the booth right?
HK: Yes, I already knew back then, but I couldn’t say anything.
G: Let’s get into the serious questions: You announced quite a few playable characters by now. Have all the playable characters been revealed now, or there are more?
HK: There are eight playable characters that we announced, and that will be all.
G: Sony just announced the PS4 Pro, and I was wondering if you’re looking into doing any special adjustments to use the additional power of the console?
HK: Actually, at this point we haven’t really heard details on what we can do for the Pro from Sony, so we’re unable to answer that question.
The game will work on the Pro, but at this point we don’t know if we’ll do something specific for it.
G: How much input does Miura-sensei give on the game?
HK: In addition to Miura-sensei and the people at the manga publisher, the also is the production committee from the anime as well, and all those do provide input for the game, and they are checking the contents.
G: Recently, you mentioned that you were considering introducing in the western version some of the elements that were left out due to rating regulations in Japan. Has that been finalized? And do you have any more details on what it will entail?
HK: Due to the high quality visuals of the PS4, we had to hold back with the depiction of the violence in the Japanese version to meet rating standard. In terms of what can be put back into the overseas edition, it hasn’t been decided yet.
With the visual level of the PS3 we would probably be able to get away with some of it, but with the PS4 being a lot more sharper and clearer, whatever we depict will be a lot more clearer, so in terms of the level violence, we’re really sort of taking it to the maximum without overstepping any boundaries, and for the overseas ratings too we have probably hit that maximum.
So initially we thought that maybe we could introduce in the west what we took out, but we’re finding that we have really hit the levels of violence that are on the borderline. We don’t really know if we can put that back in, and if it would be ok for an overseas release. It’s something that we’re looking into right now.
At this point we can’t really say. The situation from that previous interview has changed, and we’re not so sure what we can re-introduce, or if we’ll be able to re-introduce things for the western version.
G: Koei Tecmo released Attack on Titan and Arslan: The Warriors of Legend for Xbox One exclusively for the west, but Berserk did not get the same treatment. Is there a possibility for a PS4 version down the line?
HK: Currently we don’t have any plans for an Xbox One version.
G: Koei Tecmo is one of the few publishers that is still supporting the PS3 quite extensively. How long do you think the support for Sony’s older platform is going to continue? Many feel that having to support the PS3 as well holds the PS4 version back.
HK: We do have some titles that don’t have a PS3 version. For example NiOh is a PS4 exclusive. But in Japan a lot of the anime fans tend to still be PS3 users, even if we won’t release a packaged game we will still release a download-only version.
That said, when we develop the game, we’re developing it with the PS4 version in mind. We make sure that it’s PS4 quality, and then have it also work on Vita and PS3.
In the past we created the PS3 version first, and then upgraded it for PS4, but now development is on PS4, and then it’s ported to the other platforms.
G: Will the game run at 60 frames per second or 30 on PS4?
HK: It will be 30 on all platforms.
G: What about PC?
HK: We don’t know yet.
G: This is a Musou game, but I feel that it’s not exactly the same as the original Musou formula. Could you go more in-depth on the differences?
HK: The game is based on the Musou games, so that’s in common, but there are special attacks, sub-weapons, and transformations for the characters that are made specifically for Berserk. Those are elements that are added specifically to match the story and the world of Berserk, but at the base it’s really similar to a traditional Musou game.
G: In Attack on Titan, at the beginning you couldn’t choose a character, but then you were given more freedom as the story progressed. How will Berserk work?
HK: Basically, since the main character of Berserk is Guts, you play the game mostly as him. As you meet the other characters and they become part of the story, then you’ll be able to start selecting them, but in terms of the main battles, it will be Guts.
G: I didn’t hear anything about multiplayer features for the game. In Attack on Titan co-op was added post launch. Is there any plan to do anything similar with Berserk?
HK: Since the core story is really about Guts, we don’t have any plans for multiplayer.
G: Koei Tecmo games normally have a solid support after release, with DLC and additional content. Do you plan to do the same with Berserk?
HK: For this title there probably won’t be too many DLC. There will be some additional content, but not that much. Possibly it will be costumes, outfits, maybe additional stages, and possibly horses, but we’re not thinking about too many.
G: Have we seen everything there is to see about the game by now, or there are more surprises to come in terms of features?
HK: In terms of the information released, there is a little bit of lag between Japan and the west, but in terms of what has been announced in Japan, at TGS we have the playable version of Berserk for the first time, but we have pretty much covered all the information about the game.
G: The game has been delayed in Japan by a couple of months. What did this additional time allow you to accomplish?
HK: Most of the time was used in improving the overall quality of the game, and we also touched on the rating issues, as we had to do some adjustments to meet the rating standards for Japan.
G: You mentioned that the game runs at 30 frames per second. Is that stable, or we should expect frame rate dips here and there?
HK: It is pretty much stable. Maybe when you’re doing the most flashy super moves there might be a slight lag, but overall it’s pretty stable, so players should be able to play without issues.