inFAMOUS: Second Son will reinvent the series' trademark Karma system by shifting the consequences of your decisions to the way your superpowers develop, not the powers you unlock.
In a conversation with PSU, Sucker Punch CEO and co-founder Brian Fleming explained how Delsin Rowe's smoke and neon powers will be influenced by your choices throughout the game. Unlike the original inFAMOUS, which locked Cole MacGrath's lightning powers behind binary progression that favored making only good or evil decisions throughout the game, Delsin's smoke and neon powers will grow stronger as the game progresses. And unlike inFAMOUS 2, in which the very nature of Cole's powers (fire versus ice) was dependent on his karmic alignment, players can access all types of powers in Second Son regardless of moral standing.
"You can certainly switch your alignment. That's something that we not only support, but we encourage," Fleming said. "You'll have a different experience narratively, but also in terms of the powers' progression. You'll still have smoke and neon, but how they manifest will be different depending on how you're playing the game."
"You will get smoke and neon regardless of which direction you go in your Karma. The way that those powers develop will change based on your choices."
While specifics on the progression of powers hasn't been revealed, and likely won't be before the game's release on March 21, Fleming's words indicate that powers will develop along progression trees (seen or unseen) with points at which individual powers will transform based on Delsin's karmic alignment and/or important decisions in the narrative.
Fleming also assured that he is "mindful of [the criticism] that there wasn't a valid neutral way to play [inFAMOUS 2]. I understand it. I'm not sure I totally agree. If you decide to optimize, you're making implicitly other tradeoffs that I don't know are good tradeoffs to make." For example, Cole's behavior and image, from a narrative standpoint, might have made less sense if the player had stuck to making only good or evil decisions. With the optimization impetus largely removed from the series, and without inFAMOUS 2's locked paths, it seems Second Son will foster much greater narrative freedom and all the more reason for second and third playthroughs.
For more on inFAMOUS: Second, read our hands-on preview with the latest build and stay tuned for our full review.