PS4’s inFAMOUS: Second Son – The morality system returns

It has been a little while since we heard anything about one of the most anticipated upcoming titles for the PlayStation 4, inFAMOUS: Second Son. Thankfully, gamers can whet their whistles with the latest news about the game from its creative director from Sucker Punch Productions, Nate Fox:

The morality system is back again for the new face of the franchise, Delsin Rowe.

In both previous iterations of inFAMOUS, the morality system was key to the game. Cole McGrath, the main protagonist (or semi-antagonist) in the games, could become a ‘Hero’ or ‘Infamous’ depending on his actions throughout the stories. There were numerous ‘Karma Choices’ throughout the first game, big, turning-point choices that would boost Cole’s morality in one direction or the other. The second game had many more opportunities to affect morality, such as chances to stop robberies in progress, allow curiously dumb police officers to get blown up by the time bombs they were staring at, and permanently silence obnoxious street performers.

The morality system affected everything around Cole; people cheered for him and paused to take pictures of him with their camera phones if he was a hero, and they jeered and threw stones or ran away in fear if he was infamous. The city around him became sunny and cheerful if he was good, or dark and crumbly if he was evil. Cole’s powers would be different based on his morality. Even Cole’s appearance would change, his skin becoming natural and tanned one way, or pale and pasty the other.

“Delsin is an all new character, part of an all new story, and the player gets in at ground zero,” Fox told PlayStation Magazine U.K. “Second Son is Delsin’s origin story and because our game lets you choose if you want to be good or evil, you get to decide how he grows as a person and how the people around him are changed by his choices.”

This isn’t the same morality system that gamers are used to seeing from inFAMOUS, however. Big Karma Choices will not be the major influence on Delsin’s status as a hero or villain, and neither will murdering or ignoring annoying musicians on the sidewalk. Instead, Fox stated that the new morality system focuses on small choices. Instead of making the player deliberate between whether or not to destroy a machine that pumps poisonous tar into the city’s water supply or leave it to avoid getting splashed with the tar, Second Son will focus more on the Delsin’s actions themselves and how he sees his choices through. In a way, it sounds like an evolution of the morality system in inFAMOUS 2.

“…people always think about the overarching macro but they rarely think about the second-to-second experience of what it’s like to be Batman,” said Fox. “…Somebody might try to surrender to you in the middle of a fight and put their arms up. You could violently execute them or take them down alive.”

This would be concerning if it were executed poorly. Those who have played inFAMOUS as a hero before can probably attest to how easy it is to accidentally injure or kill random civilians. If there is more weight behind those events in Second Son, achieving the highest hero or infamous rank could prove difficult. It does sound like Sucker Punch has considered this, however, with the character giving the player a visual cue by holding his arms up in surrender. Fox also acknowledged the difficulty behind the new system.

“Do you know how hard it is to take down everyone alive?” Fox asked. “And when you do it, you feel like a superhero because you actually did the work… Choosing to be a good guy or a bad guy, that’s the simple choice. The harder thing to do is, are you capable of walking the walk? And that’s where the game comes alive in terms of karma in my mind.”

Considering the dramatic, thought-provoking presentation Nate Fox gave of Second Son back in February at the PS4 reveal, a challenge such as this from him is both unsurprising and exciting. Are you as excited for the next inFAMOUS as we are? Will you be going Hero or Infamous? Tell us your plans just below.

inFAMOUS: Second Son will be released on March 21, 2014. Check out the PS4 bundle.