Detroit: Become Human UK release date, trailers and news – Everything we know so far
Update: We have now reviewed Detroit: Become Human, and found it to be an “absorbing tale of android revolt”. Check out the full review.
Detroit: Become Human looks like it could tap into a certain cultural zeitgeist. Helmed by David Cage; the director behind Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls, Quantic Dream’s latest tells the story of three androids who start to confront the violence of their society.
It’s coming at a time when there’s a great deal of interest around artificial intelligence. The story of androids becoming self-aware and rebelling against their human oppressors has played out numerous times over the past few decades, but Detroit’s story has particular reverberations in the context of advances of AI, not to mention TV shows and films like HBO’s Westworld and Blade Runner 2049.
Can Quantic Dream bring something new to the table? Or will Detroit end up as a derivative, pseudo-philosophical tale of existential robots? Here’s what we know so far.
Detroit: Become Human: Everything you need to know
Detroit: Become Human in brief
- The newest game from industry auteur David Cage
- Its story revolves around androids running amok in Detroit
- PlayStation exclusive
Detroit: Become Human release date
Detroit: Become Human will be coming out on 25 May 2018 for PS4.
Detroit: Become Human – Domestic violence controversy
A trailer premiered during 2017’s Paris Games Week showed the story of Kara, an android living in a household with an abusive parent who attacks his child. From the clip, it’s made clear you’ll have the opportunity to intervene and stop events from unfolding, depending on what choices you make. This is in-keeping with Quantic Dream’s approach to storytelling; giving the narrative branching paths dependant on player choice, but it raised concerns given the serious subject matter.
Andy Burrows, associate head of child safety online at the NSPCC, condemned the clip: “Any video game that trivialises or normalises child abuse, neglect or domestic violence for entertainment is unacceptable.”
Spaking to Eurogamer, Quantic Dream’s David Cage defended the choice to include scenes of domestic violence in the game:
“Would I be doing my job as a creator if I was making the game you want me to make? I don’t think so – I’m creating something that I find moving and meaningful. And I think people should see the scene, play the game and see it in context to really understand it. The rule I give myself is to never glorify violence, to never do anything gratuitous. It has to have a purpose, have a meaning, and create something that is hopefully meaningful for people.”
While we’ll have to wait for the game’s release to judge whether the scene is justified by its context, the danger of handling the complexity of an issue like domestic violence through a series of fixed systems is that it reduces that violence of a consequence of ‘poor’ decision making. For many people facing the reality of domestic violence, choices about their situation are unlikely to be so clear, and certainly not a game that can be won.
What is Detroit: Become Human all about?
Detroit started life as a tech demo, showing Quantic Dream’s mo-cap and rendering techniques on the PS3 back in 2012. The video, titled Kara, saw the titular android being assembled by robot arms, then becoming self-aware about the fact she is “merchandise”.
Studio head David Cage chose to continue the story of Kara, and she will now be one of three playable characters in Detroit. He allegedly spent two years writing the script for the game, which was passed on to his team of designers and programmers who went about creating a whole new game engine. This is one reason why work on the game has taken a while.
Human performers have always been a big part of Quantic Dream’s process, but Detroit is a different order of magnitude. 220 actors were cast to cover 300 roles, pulled from Los Angeles, Paris and London, each individual scanned in 3D and rendered in the game. The largest glimpse of how all of this will play out has been from the E3 2016 trailer, which saw police android Connor engage in crisis negotiations with a hostage-taking house android.
As the trailer shows, the basic gameplay of Detroit is based on finding clues and making decisions that will affect the story. Anyone who played Heavy Rain or Beyond: Two Souls will be familiar with the formula, which is something of an evolution from 1990s adventure games, but with a decidedly adult focus on complex moral choices.
Previous Quantic Dream titles have had their share of Quick Time Events (QTEs), although Cage has downplayed this element in Detroit. In an interview with VentureBeat, he said he wanted the interface to have a “sense of mimicry.”
“I want you to feel physically close to your character and do things in the same way the character would do them. If he makes an effort, I want to make an effort on the controller. If he makes a move, I want to make that move at the same time with him. I try to establish a physical link, because it’s one part of the identification process. The other part being the emotional identification. Interface and gameplay can play a very important role there.”
Playable characters are able to die if the player makes certain decisions, so don’t get too attached.
Detroit: Become Human – choice and consequence
Detroit: Become Human’s tale of android resistance will have branches. So many, in fact, that the various paths through its story allegedly fill a 2,000-page script. Like Quantic Dream’s Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls, the name of the game is choice and consequence, and the studio’s upcoming game is shaping up to be the most choice-y and consequence-y of them all.
Talking to Official PlayStation Magazine, Quantic Dream head David Cage hinted at the sheer scale of branching paths that will make up Detroit: Become Human. “I tried to put in a choice each time it was possible, and see where it would lead me,” he told the magazine. “It was really scary in the writing process, because you end up with charts and diagrams that end up looking like hell.”
Cage added that he wants these choices to be significant, even though only a fraction of players will be able to experience them on their playthrough: “It was important for me not to use smoke and mirrors, because in this genre it is every easy to do it and say this choice has tremendous consequences but really it doesn’t.
“It had a cost in production to say ‘Okay, we’re going to produce scenes that maybe 20% of the players will see in their first playthrough, but let’s do it, because that 20% will talk about it with someone else. They will compare their stories and realize they are totally different.’”
Many branching paths an intriguing story does not make, but it’s encouraging to see Cage commit to a multiplicity of story-branches that are more than shallow re-skins of each other. Exactly how his studio has struck the balance between number and quality of branches remains to be seen – presumably with sore wrists from all the typing.