Eidos Montreal have offered up some details on one of the new features of their upcoming Thief revival. Focus is an ability Garrett can access to speed up his reactions, giving him more time to perform combat or lockpicking. Game director Nick Cantin explains the ability in a community blog post . And, almost like he's anticipating a response from the series' most hardcore fans, he repeatedly assures that the ability is optional.
"From a game design perspective, Focus is a layer that empowers the player and empowers Garrett," Cantin says. "But, it's not something that you're forced to use. It's something that you manage, something that is one of the tools at Garrett's disposal that he can use to tackle the various situations he is confronted with."
Cantin explains that Focus is a limited ability that Garrett accumulates through play. "The player will have to choose when the best time is to take advantage of Garrett's Focus, as he has many different ways and abilities that Focus can be used. It's completely up to the player to decide and manage how Focus is used in the game."
Those abilities cover a range of time-sensitive actions that take place in the game. "Things like combat, marksmanship, lock picking and pickpocketing have the ability to be enhanced by Garrett's focus - if you choose." Okay, Cantin! We get it! Focus is an entirely optional ability that fans of classic stealth gaming can disregard at will. Understood.
So Cantin, is Focus an entirely optional ability that fans of classic stealth gaming can disregard at will? "Presently, it's the completely the players choice to use Focus or not. If players want to challenge themselves to stick to Garrett's basic abilities, they can."
It's good to see the developers being so mindful of the wishes of fans, and hopefully a sign that the levels are being built to support non-Focus play. One of my problems with Hitman: Absolution (although, by no means my only one) was that the Instinct Mode was such an integral part of the game, that disabling it caused levels to be unplayable frustrating.
Focus mode's other use is to accentuate object highlighting, which in its default state works much like in precious Thief games. When asked whether object highlighting could be disabled completely, Cantin offered a more general design goal: "All I can say now is that Thief purists will have options - those types of players will definitely be pleased."