The Revolution’s producer on guerrilla warfare (Wired UK)

Homefront: The Revolution
Homefront: The Revolution



Crytek UK has staged a military coup, having picked up the
Homefront IP following the dissolution of original
publishers THQ. The result of this digital occupation is
Homefront: The Revolution. Set in the near-future of 2029
where a suddenly powerful North Korea has dominated the United
States, players must mount a counter-offensive to restore freedom,
apple pie, and a Starbucks on every corner — but do it without any
of the resources, training, or macho grunting of so many other
shooters. Using guerrilla tactics and improvised weapons, gamers
build a resistance effort while freeing Philadelphia — the home of
US independence — from Korean occupation. 

David Stenton, the game’s producer, speaks with on
changing the language of shooting games, hardware demands, and Che
Guevara. How long have you been shepherding

David Stenton: We’ve been working on it for quite some time, about
three years. We started working on it under THQ and when THQ went
down, Crytek acquired the rights to the Homefront IP. That was in
2012. So we’ve been working on it with us owning the IP for a
couple of years now. 

Are you carrying on any of the continuity from the
previous game or is it a clean slate?

Part of what appealed to us about the IP was the premise — a
near-future, dystopian, occupied USA. That’s why we picked it up.
Homefront: The Revolution is set four years after the
events of the original game, but it’s not a direct story sequel to
the original. We’re not carrying on characters or plot elements
from the original.

What’s the backstory to your take on

You’re playing a guy called Ethan Brady — an everyday citizen
living in a brutal regime and scavenging for everyday items.
Without giving away spoilers, the story is about exploring Ethan
Brady’s story joining the resistance and where that takes him. The
singleplayer takes place in a kind of sandbox Philadelphia,
exploring and getting people to tackle objectives. 

The idea of asymmetric warfare is something the media
typically portrays as something the bad guys do. How are you
approaching turning that into something good guys

That was part of the appeal, taking that established narrative and
turning it on its head. We really want to put the players in that
position, to ask them the question: “What would you do in an
occupied country, with an oppressive regime? How would you strike
out against that if you’re an everyday guy without military-grade
equipment and training?” This is very much the position we want to
put players in. That’s why we think the premise has a lot of
international appeal, even though it’s set in the United States.
It’s a key foundation point to the IP. It’s applicable to all
countries because it gets people thinking of what they’d do in that

The crafting, weapons and upgrade systems also reflect
the characters’ lack of training and resources, yes?

Yes, you need to do everything you can to give yourself an edge
against the KPA. You need to scavenge to build up your toolkit.
You’re scavenging for things like containers, chemicals and
components. You’re looking for things like explosives and other
things you can combine to make weapons. You can use maybe a remote
control car to scope out an enemy position. You can use improvised
explosive devices to sabotage convoys. You can customise your
weapon on the fly. As part of this free roam sandbox environment,
we’re definitely pushing different ways for the players to solve
their problems — do you alter your weapon so that it’s longer
ranged? Then you’ve got more homebrew and exotic weapons from the
guerrilla toolbox. It all ties into those RPG-lite elements,
bringing in the new language into a first person shooter

Is there a certain kind of language shooter players
expect then?

It does change the language because we’re introducing RPG-lite
elements, like scavenging and crafting, character progression,
different ways to tackle objectives and how to think about when to
do what, doing side missions to upgrade your character and grind up
things. It introduces a new language to the established
first-person genre. 

How much freedom do you have with creation? Can you
experiment or do you need to find a specific

It’s a mixture. It depends on what type of thing you’re building.
We’ve got quite a few different ingredient types. They can all
build different elements and you can combine those elements, like
the RC car. Because it’s a sandbox game, you can attach the IED to
a passing vehicle or an audio lure as a distraction option. There
are lots of different combos and I think one of the cool things for
players is to experiment. We don’t want to say you have to play a
certain way.

Are there variant ways to accomplish certain

Yes. A good example we saw on the demo — breaking the prisoners
out of the police station — there are different ways you could do
that. You could do a frontal assault, sneak into the police
station, bring in resistance support if that’s available, use your
guerrilla toolkit… Within a specific objective, there are lots of
different ways to tackle the objectives.


How does the reputation-based Uprising system used to
build the revolution work?

It’s very much about what all the different options are available
to you to ignite the revolution. You generate Uprising points
through acts of rebellion like smashing CCTV cameras or propaganda
speakers, sabotaging convoys or assassinating KPA officers. There
are bigger things that evolve as the game goes on. Early on in the
game, you’re very much under the boot of the KPA. Your options are
limited. The civilian population is fully suppressed. Then later in
the game, in those same streets you’ll see other members of the
resistance fighting with the KPA. You’ll really see an evolution of
the game world and Uprising points are tied into that.

So will players see spontaneous battles between
revolution members and the KPA as they progress?

Yeah. We’re very big on emergent gameplay. We’ve not talked too
much about it but the district in the trailer is called the Yellow
District. These areas are like ghettos that the civilians are
rounded up into because the KPA can’t police the whole US with
their manpower. Outside of those, we’ve got the Red Zones, which
are blasted suburbs and wastelands — more of an unknown frontier.
Within those, you’re very much looking at emergent and ambient
skirmishes, encountering patrols and nothing quite being

Sandboxes are interesting territory for a first person
shooter. The genre seems to have gone very linear in the last few
years. Are you trying to break away from that

Absolutely. We’re trying to bring first person shooters to
free-roam sandboxes. I think it might be the first time a
well-known, dedicated studio like Crytek has opened its horizons
like this, trying to take it free-roam and take things further. We
want to introduce non-linear missions and accept multiple missions,
so we’re broadening our horizons. We’re getting back to our Crytek
DNA while also changing how we do things.

Crytek is notorious for traditionally releasing
very technologically demanding games. Do you feel that the tech of
the current console generations have caught up with the envelope
Crytek’s been pushing?

We’re still pushing it! We’re really pushing CryEngine. Crytek’s
really known for pushing PC hardware to its limits and visual
fidelity. We’re definitely doing that with Homefront,
pushing visuals and other systems. It’s good to be on Xbox One and
PlayStation 4. We’re not a launch title — we’re a second or third
wave title, which means we’ve got time to spend on the consoles and
we can do stuff we couldn’t if we were a launch title.

Do you think there are limitations developing for a
console’s limited hardware compared to a PC, where if you’ve got
the tech you can run it at an insane level? 

When you look back at Crysis 2 and 3 they were
console releases too. I think we’re in a nicer position now. I
wouldn’t say we feel limited. We’re always going to be pushing the
hardware. Nothing jumps out at us that we’ll say is limiting us and
we’re in a better position than we were in the previous

Have you been researching into real-world military tech
advancements? For a game set in 2029 it looks a little

Obviously it’s a fictional universe, where the worst-case scenario
has happened — America has fallen and North Korea has used its
economic might (in this fiction) to take over neighbouring
countries and build up a superior army. It’s not a game where we
focus heavily on sci-fi tech, especially from a player perspective.
But I think it’s important to show disparity between the civilians
who are still using today’s tech — solar panels to power their
stoves and wind power, just to get by — and then the KPA who have
far superior tech, including seeker drones that scan the population
for suspicious activity, or wolverines, those tank-like drones on
the streets. I don’t think we’re going too far down the sci-fi
realm. We’re keeping things grounded in the realism of a dystopian
sci-fi universe.

You use a Che Guevara quote in talking about the game at
E3, “The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You
have to make it fall.” Guevara is still a very contentious figure
in the US. How do you think that will be

The Che Guevara aspect is just to establish that everyday
revolutionary aspect — you’re a teacher, a taxi driver, a bank
clerk. That’s the foundation point. You’re not a Special Forces
soldier. Obviously Che Guevara himself is a controversial figure
and we’re not exploring him as part of the game, but we want people
thinking about that kind of thing.



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12 June 2014 | 12:52 pm – Source:

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