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Infamous: Second Son wants players to enjoy being evil

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WWDD — what would Delsin do?

Whether you walk the path of the righteous or the sinister, one thing is the same in both of Infamous: Second Son's karmic paths: Sucker Punch wants you, like protagonist Delsin, to really enjoy using your powers.

In a recent hands-on demo, we were only working with Delsin's two currently-revealed powers: smoke and neon. Absorbing smoke lets you harness the power of fire and fumes, while absorbing light from neon signs and street lights lets Delsin whack enemies with light swords and energy shots. Being limited to the two didn't feel like a limitation at all; there are many different variants these powers could take, giving us the tools to do everything from punching out individual enemies to clearing a swath of them cramping our style to running and gunning through areas indiscriminately picking off pedestrians.

A lot of this movement — which felt fluid and natural, between stringing together attacks and sucking energy from nearby sources — stems from the game's use of the DualShock 4 controller. The controller is players' connection to Delsin, their link to walking in his shoes and using his powers. Through the controller, Sucker Punch has worked to create a scheme that makes players, like Delsin, feel powerful.

"We worked really close with Sony when they were developing the controller to see how we could maximize utilizing it," animation director Billy Harper told Polygon. "It's more contextual integration than we've had before and not a gimmicky sort of thing. We wanted to get the player to really enjoy their powers like the characters themselves. They're really enjoying it."

Cole McGrath, protagonist of the original Infamous games, was a little more conflicted about the power he carried. Where McGrath was moody, Delsin is all-systems-go, a whirlwind of crackling energy that very much loves his abilities. Delsin likes to have fun, and while he sometimes calls off as a little freaky, his boundless enthusiasm for his powers makes him more relatable, more connectable.

"Delsin really revels in his powers," he added. "[That] really informed a lot of what we did, and we tried to have this cohesion between everything. That's also why Delsin is the type of character that he is — he really enjoys his powers because we found that marries the player's experience to the character. Our game has always been about enjoying your powers, but now there's more of a reflection of that."

"It's more contextual integration than we've had before."

According to Harper, making good or evil choices will affect the way Infamous: Second Son's story plays out. Corrupting or redeeming people you meet, like scrappy fellow "Conduit" Fetch, will cause a ripple effect down both Deslin's path and the personal narrative of other characters. Through different uses of their abilities, players can carve themselves a happier ending or dash themselves on a less savory one — it all comes down to the choices made throughout the game.

But players may not see all Second Son content if they only play through once. As incentive to bring players back into the game and run Delsin down both good and evil karmic paths, Sucker Punch is tweaking how players build up their ultimate special attacks. Evil Delsin will race against the clock to complete objectives, while good Delsin will earn points based on accuracy of his attacks and lose them for missing targets. These two completely different setups were designed to entice players back into missions to test their skills and view a different side of Delsin.

As for the seven-year gap between the Cole and Delsin's stories, pre-orders of Second Son's Limited or Collector's Editions include special DLC that fills this narrative hole. Harper said the DLC isn't a wait-til-you-beat-the-main-game deal; players can tackle it before, after, or any time during their play through of Second Son.

"You can play whenever," Harper said. "We did that on purpose. We designed [Second Son] that you can jump in without knowing anything about the Infamous universe and just pick it up and play it and enjoy it."