Dead Space: Rebuilding the Iconic Plasma Cutter – IGN First

It’s rare for a gun to be the star of a video game, but that’s exactly what happened in dead space. The 2008 survival horror classic made the Plasma Cutter, a handgun-like tool that fires vertical or horizontal projectiles, the most essential tool for dismembering your necromorph enemies. When it came to remaking Dead Space, developer EA Motive knew it had to do the right thing with this iconic weapon. And so it’s exactly as you remember it.

“Who wants to change the Plasma Cutter? It’s perfect as is,” says Roman Campos-Oriola, Creative Director of Dead Space at EA Motive. “Just kidding, but that’s exactly how we approached this weapon during development.

“Anybody [who] played any dead space before remembers this weapon, remembers the distinct click-click when it spins, remembers sounds, the impact of it on all creatures, and how it felt to play with this weapon,” he said. “So for us it was really important to keep that memory, to kind of fill that memory of the player.”

But while the form and function of the Plasma Cutter is exactly as you remember it, EA Motive has made some small changes and improvements. At first, these may seem invisible, but take a close look at the updated high-definition model of the weapon and you’ll see dozens of new little details. As the rotating mouth transitions from vertical to horizontal format, you can see the interlocking components of the mechanism twist into its housing.

“We really had to go back to the drawing board,” says Campos-Oriola. “With the visual fidelity, both in terms of graphics but also in some of the [the] animations we have today, we had to go into a lot more detail […] on how this thing actually works. What is each piece? What do these little things really do? Whether or not we later use it in the game, we really had to figure out how this thing would move and behave if it was a real tool.

It is with this more detailed approach that the differences between the original Plasma Cutter and its remake successor begin. And the closer you look, the more differences you will find. “The plasma cutter is not the same as in the original Dead Space,” Campos-Oriola openly admits. “But you feel like it’s the same, you think it’s the same as you remember. But obviously the model isn’t the same, the textures aren’t the same, the sounds are not the same. We have completely rebuilt how it works because it is a brand new engine. We don’t use any code, assets, anything from the original. But our goal with this weapon was to be as faithful as possible to the original experience.

Our goal with the Plasma Cutter was to be as faithful to the original experience as possible.

One element that’s more than just a visual update is the new upgrades system, which improves the lethal abilities of Dead Space’s weapons in a variety of ways. “Every weapon has an upgraded part,” says game director Eric Baptizat. “You can find a new section for the weapon that you can plug in and physically attach to the gun.”

“It was really important to create components that look believable,” he added, “that really fit the weapons, that are noticeable once you see them in your environment, and that make sense for their function. So it was really a job to create these new elements that fit naturally into the original design.

If this sounds familiar, it might be because you remember weapon upgrades from Dead Space 2. In fact, the Plasma Cutter even features the damage over time upgrade from that sequel. beloved.

“One thing that we brought from Dead Space 2 and developed a bit is the concept of special upgrades,” says Campos-Oriola. “So these upgrade nodes that actually have a wider impact on the weapon. So one of these upgrades [came] directly from DS2. It’s the fact that when you shoot the Plasma Cutter, if you have this upgrade, the limb of the enemy you shoot at will catch fire. And so it’ll burn the flesh and do a little more damage. So we made some tweaks or improvements like that.

Despite its exciting new upgrades, you can be sure that the Plasma Cutter is more or less exactly the weapon you love and remember. That can’t be said for the rest of Dead Space’s arsenal, which has been significantly revamped.

“When we approached the weapon design for the remake, we wanted to rebalance them a bit to make sure each weapon was powerful in its own way,” says Campos-Oriola. “So, for example, what we did with the pulse rifle is we took an element of Dead Space 2 – in Dead Space 2 [the rifle’s alternate fire] was a grenade launcher – and we adjusted it slightly, because now it’s the proximity mine.

“We keep, for most weapons, the primary fire [exactly the same] because they are iconic and perform different functions in terms of how to fight enemies,” explains Baptizat. “But we [found] the low [was] something we could push even further to give the player more tools to control crowds with enemies. And we wanted to give a unique value to each weapon.

The idea was to create new tools to be able to play with enemies and create new strategies.

Ideas for new alternate fire modes were built on the foundation of fictional credibility. “One of our philosophies, for example with the Force Gun’s alt-fire, was that we wanted it to be useful in the sense of how space miners would use it,” says Campos-Oriola.

The Force Gun, once a weapon that simply pushed enemies backwards, now has the ability to create a gravity well that pulls enemies in, much like Zarya’s ultimate in Overwatch. It doesn’t deal any damage, but by grouping enemies together, the Gravity Well can be effectively combined with something like the Line Gun, which can fire wide beams through crowds or place laser traps.

“What is super interesting is that we can combine [the gravity well] with all the other weapons,” says Baptizat. “So with the main shot of the Force Gun itself, or with the trap of the Line Gun. Then you can have fun [placing] your trap, luring the enemy to that spot [with the gravity well] and pairing them with the Pulse Rifle’s proximity mine. Basically, the idea was to create new tools to be able to play with enemies and create new strategies.

The peeling system, which “peels” an enemy’s flesh, layer by layer, combines elegantly (and horribly) with these new weapons. This bloody addition creates a fun punch with the Force Gun and Plasma Cutter.

“The Force Gun in the original, it would shoot an enemy, a slasher, it would drop on his ass, get up,” Campos-Oriola recalled. “You’re like, ‘How much damage did I do to this guy?’ You’re not really sure. He’s almost dead, but you don’t know that.

“Now when you fire the Force Gun, the same slasher falls on his ass, gets up, and now he’s really skinny because all the skin, all the fat, all the muscle is gone,” he continues. “There’s almost only this guy’s skeleton left, and you’re like, ‘Yeah, pretty sure he’s about to die. Where it has become even more useful is that it is a great weapon to combine with another because now with a single blow of plasma you will be able to cut off that limb because the bones are [revealed].”

This revamp of Dead Space weapons means that all of your favorites are still there and work almost exactly as you remember them, but have been tweaked to be more useful and creative. That seems to be the general idea behind all the changes in the remake, which we’ll be looking at in more detail this month as part of IGN First. To find out more, see opening the game in 4Kas well as a comparison between the remake and the original game.

Matt Purslow is IGN’s UK News and Features Editor.

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