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Alan Wake 2 Q&A – Devs Confirm 20 Hours Length, Aren’t Concerned with October’s Competition

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Alan Wake 2

Tucked away from the main show floor of Summer Game Fest's Play Days, in a corridor quietly nestled between Mortal Kombat 1 and EA's Immortals of Aveum, lay a single sign that hinted at a Behind Closed Doors presentation. Stepping into the wide area immediately assaulted the eyes with imagery of Bright Falls and symbols that are soon to be iconic with the reason for my attendance: a first-hand look at Remedy Entertainment's Alan Wake 2.

The thirty-minute hands-off presentation was guided by Thomas Puha, Communications Director at Remedy Entertainment, and the same individual that helped field a group Q&A session shortly thereafter. Alan Wake 2 opens not as the titular main character but with the new character, Saga Anderson from the FBI, whose campaign makes up the other half of the playable duo.

Saga's investigation opens on the heels of Robert Nightingale, a stocky gentleman that just so happens to be very much nude and dead, or so she would be led to believe. She's accompanied by Agent Sam Lake, sorry, Agent Alex Casey to keep her grounded in the investigation before getting lost on his own midway through the brief chapter. In the course of tracking down this supposedly dead murder victim (and his heart that was stolen in such a ritual), Saga's investigative nature is shown in full control. After tracking down crucial clues in the real world, Saga can then retreat into her Mind Place, a separate environment that can be accessed at any time with zero loading times. In this simulated cabin, Saga can sort out and reference the clues she's picked up to gain a new lead. Successfully piecing a common thread together can lead to her getting into the mind of her investigative target and get a feel for their motivations and actions in that particular state of mind. Doing so can reveal clues that would otherwise remain hidden to the player and character alike (the most notable of which was Robert Nightingale's heart stashed inconspicuously away inside a freezer in a nearby shop).

Light is just as integral for Saga Anderson's adventures as they were for Alan Wake himself. Taken enemies can be temporarily subdued by her flashlight, illuminating their weak points and making them susceptible to small-arms fire. Select locales can be transformed into safe places by merely turning the lights on. Doing so summons in a constantly piping hot thermos of coffee, a nod to the numerous collectibles from the first Alan Wake title, and a moment of brevity as Thomas Puha explained that these were not one of Remedy Entertainment's finest days.

As Saga Anderson explores the wooded and swampy environments of Bright Falls, lost manuscript pages are scattered throughout. Collecting them rewards the player with a brief narration by Alan Wake explaining the story that the player is experiencing and a bit of guidance as to the next objective, such as where to put that frozen Nightingale heart to good use.

While ray-tracing was not present in this hands-off demo for Alan Wake 2, volumetric lighting and rays of god both enhanced the time of day and made the woods feel more alive as light flooded through bare tree branches and the like. As the demo descended later into the time of night, the illumination of safe places or streetlights that light up a wide area below them both pierce through the veil of night to contrast against the evils within. These streetlights offer only a brief respite against the foes of darkness, as once Saga steps out back into the shadows, that safe haven is lost and no longer effective against enemy foes.

The Alan Wake 2 presentation ended shortly after, first facing off against The Nightingale and other taken foes in combat, as Saga is brought face to face with the prolific writer himself, seemingly confused by both the setting and time period he's been extracted into. Such a staggering cliffhanger is enough to make the presentation linger in our minds and left wondering about the branching dual narratives to come when Alan Wake 2 launches later this year on October 17th for Xbox Series S|X and PlayStation 5 for $59.99 and PC for $49.99.

Is Saga's partner the same Alex Casey from Alan Wake's fictional stories?

Yeah. It's very meta, with many levels of meta.

Are we going to see any of the Control characters in Alan Wake 2?

No comment. Well, I mean, the game is a big part I went to is a big part of the Remedy Connected Universe, so take that as you will. I do want to say that it's really important that this game is very accessible, even if you haven't played the first game that made Control. But if you have played our previous games, the first and the second expansion of Control (AWE), which kind of spells out how this whole game begins, then yeah, there's a lot of connections there and a lot of stuff to find out.

Obviously, we saw some similar gameplay mechanics from Alan Wake. How have those mechanics been tweaked or changed? And will there be any new abilities for Alan himself compared to the first game?

Good question. So, obviously we're really only focusing on Saga here, and just saw most of her gameplay where we do the investigations, we do the profiling. And then on the other side, I can say that light does matter quite a lot. So Light is another mechanic that you have to use with Alan in the Dark Place, but we will show that gameplay later. Sorry!

Can you clarify the character switching, is it a set number of missions per character, or can you do certain missions with either character?

No. Good question. So, no, each character has their own set of missions, so they have their own story in any order after the beginning. And then once you get to the end of Alan Wake 2, we're going to kind of force you to play it in a certain way. But it's really important to understand that it's not like you get to play this mission with Alan as well. They both have their own stories.

Does the dodging work the same as in the first Alan Wake, or is it going to feel different?

Hopefully, it'll feel a lot better. But yeah, it does work the same way, though the good thing is that Alan isn't out of breath constantly, so he's in a bit better shape. Of course, being an FBI agent, Saga is pretty handy with combat.

WCCFTECH - With the two intertwined campaigns, can you discuss roughly how long Alan Wake 2 will take to complete?

It depends on your skills, but currently (and the game is not quite done yet because a lot of the content is still going in), we're looking at over 20 hours.

Does the Mind Place change to reflect Saga's psyche, or any changes throughout the game?

Great question. No. The Mind Place is always modeled after the current case. The Mind Palace we saw in the demo is actually her room in the motel in Bright Falls.

Can you explain how the Mind Place is going to work in Alan Wake 2?

I could give you a pretty long answer if we'd have the time. As it works now, it's more about the fact that you got to find the clues because you can't progress if you don't find the clues. And then sometimes you got to be doing the profiling and interrogate or talk to the right people in the mission to gain clues to have the ability to make progress.

Mostly, the way you put the evidence up is pretty linear. Now we can go back in development something like 6 to 12 months ago, when we had a very fancy tech system where you could place all the evidence anywhere you wanted. You could collapse everything; you could put 50 things up there. But if you know that meme where that guy is trying to explain all that stuff... We playtested it a lot and it just did not work.

It's that difficult balance of giving enough agency and enough of that fantasy thing of putting things together, as opposed to players just being completely confused by having 50 things there and not really knowing which way you should be going.

Obviously, Alan Wake 2 draws influence from CAPCOM's Resident Evil 4. Would you like to speak more about that? We saw the inventory system and it is a survival horror game.

Yeah. Though I'll add that while you saw half an hour of the game, it's really important to know that we're not one note at all. When you get to go to Bright Falls during the day, it'll feel slightly odd, but the vibes are going to be way different. You're not in the woods with a shotgun where this was very, very survival horror.

We definitely make sure that there's a lot of variety in tone. When you get to the Dark Place, which is this kind of hellish, nightmarish version of New York, that will be way different from what you're seeing in Bright Falls. Variety is definitely really, really important for us. But yes, there's an inventory system like you can grow the inventory and all that.

Can we expect additional stories besides the base game, just like with Control?

Yeah, we are gonna do two expansions, but we're not really saying anything about that. But if you got to follow what we did on Control, it'll be something similar.

WCCFTECH - Speaking of Control, how is Remedy evolving the already extensive ray tracing in that game's PC version?

Well, there's no ray tracing in this Alan Wake 2 demo, and we're not talking about the tech side of things, but that's more in the PC domain. We are still working on all that stuff.

Does Alan Wake have his own version of a Mind Palace?

There's a lot of duality in this game, so maybe. Not kind of the same thing, but yeah, it's kind of a mirrored experience.

WCCFTECH - Just like a general vibe question. Are you guys concerned about an already packed October with this dropping right in the middle of the month?

Well, there's always competition, right? We really only worry about making the best game we can. That's what's ultimately the most important thing. And then the rest we will see.

Thank you for your time.

Written by Kai Powell

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