The developers at Visceral Montreal have an interesting challenge in creating Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel: They want to create a game that plays on the strengths of the franchise's tactical co-op, but leaves behind the frat-boy "dudebro" humor that some identify the previous titles with.
Producer Zach Mumbach is hesitant to call The Devil's Cartel a complete reboot of the series that launched in 2008, but it seems to be very close to one.
"We're trying to keep the strengths of the Army of Two games: the tactical co-op, using cover, draining aggro, flanking, using tactics, and doing things that would benefit your teammate," he said. "Then we have a new engine, Frostbite 2, which allows you to destroy a bunch of stuff."
And then the team is laying that over a grittier, perhaps slightly more serious tone, one that allows for a bit of levity, but removes the notoriously out-of-context dialog and celebrations by mercenary buddies Salem and Rios.
"We're going to get away from that situational stuff," he said. "The slapping each other on the butt and giving each other high fives in the middle of a firefight. We're not going to have that.
"The criticism I often hear is that those games had frat-boy or dudebro humor. We're not getting away from that 100 percent but it will be more serious and more gritty."
In The Devil's Cartel, mercenaries Alpha and Bravo are hired by the mayor of La Puerta, a fictional town in Mexico, to help take out the drug cartels that have overrun the place.
"It's what he's running his campaign on," Mumbach said. "The job starts out as business (for Alpha and Bravo) but they get caught up in some things and it becomes very personal to them."
The decision to bring in two new characters, rather than bring back Salem and Rios (who both make an appearance in the game), was driven in a large part by the reworking of the game's tone, Mumbach said.
"We knew we were going to go more serious, less dudebro," he said. "If we made those changes and (Salem and Rios) started relating to each other the way these characters will be, it might have seemed strange."
Mumbach describes Alpha as a bit of a straight-laced former military guy.
"Even though he's working for a private military company he has that structured edge to him," he said.
Bravo, he said, is less buttoned up.
"Alpha probably wouldn't like the way Salem and Rios behave, where Bravo might hang out with them at a bar and share drinks."
While the game is set in Mexico and deals with a topic currently making headlines, Mumback said the studio is being careful to steer clear of any direct references.
"We wanted some sort of real-world basis, even though the story is obvious fiction," he said. "If I say Mexican cartel right now most people will know what I'm talking about because of the news."