The cover story of the latest issue of Edge Magazine is a hands-on preview of The Last Guardian, revealing new gameplay details and reconfirming a 2016 release date.
In the magazine, game director Fumito Ueda says, “Since this is the year we will see the game’s release, I do have some worries, but I’m also very excited.”
The preview introduces a new gameplay mechanic in which the human boy character wields a mirrored shield. Edge writes, “Holding circle ‘illuminates’ the device, shining what is ostensibly an ornate crosshair onto any surface it’s aimed at… [Trico] can fire a devastating beam of red lightning from its tail, and will direct this power wherever we point the mirrored shield.”
In the demo Edge was shown, which is from an early portion of the game, this attack was used for environmental puzzles—“one involving the destruction of a rock face, the other the disintegration of a wooden wall.”
Of course, the star of The Last Guardian is Trico, the animal that accompanies the boy. He is described in the magazine as a “free-spirited creature that flagrantly disregards your attempts to tame it,” which prompted Ueda to question whether this may or may not annoy players.
“It would be a lie to stay that I have no worries,” Ueda said in the magazine, “but another game where you can completely control a creature wouldn’t be enjoyable for me because there are a lot out there where you can do that. I think I’ve had enough of them.”
As the game progresses, the relationship between Trico and the boy will strengthen, and Trico will become more responsive to his requests.
Trico is described as powerful, but timid and nervous in its nature. The magazine reads, “One area a little later in the demo sees us emerge high up from the wall of a huge cave that holds an underground lake. We immediately take the opportunity to leap into the clear water below, diving underneath the surface and exploring the muffled underwater world for a time. On resurfacing, we find Trico timidly pawing at the edge of the drop, refusing to jump. It is, after all, part cat.”
Here’s Ueda’s take on Trico: “This creature isn’t like the cute pets that exist in other games, or an ally that’s really useful. The role of the creature is ambiguous; that’s something we wanted to express in the game, and it doesn’t always do what you ask it to do. That’s one of the themes of The Last Guardian. It’s something that’s difficult, and completely different. I want to create the next thing – an experience that people have never had before.
“The amount of code is very large compared to AI in conventional games. We’ve given this creature its own desires, so depending on what action it wants to take, that affects everything, including its animation. It’s not like a normal humanoid character.”
The Last Guardian is, again, planned for release on PlayStation 4 in 2016. It’s been a long time coming since its initial reveal for PlayStation 3 in 2009. We’ll likely hear more, and hopefully a final release date, at E3 in Los Angeles next month.
Update 7:30 p.m.: Another preview has made its way online via IGN, including a batch of new screenshots. More through the link.