What We Know: We've known that F.E.A.R. 3 was coming for awhile, but in Germany we went deeper behind the scenes to learn about the nitty and the gritty (and there's a lot of gritty) in this horror / mech-driving / gun-blasting shooter.
What We're Seeing Now: F.E.A.R. has a long history, with F.E.A.R., (First Encounter Assault Recon), F.E.A.R. Extraction Point, F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate, F.E.A.R. Files (the Xbox version of the two expansion packs), and F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, and F.E.A.R. 2: Reborn. If you're keeping track, that's a heck of a lot of F.E.A.R. F.E.A.R. 3 brings together Point Man, who players will be very familiar with from previous titles, and reunites him with his brother Paxton Fettel ... a man who he killed. Whoops. Brotherly love must have some powerful bonds.
Senior producer on the project Dan Hay said that they really sat down and tried to decide how to evolve the game. How do you make it scary? They decided to go back to the brothers' roots by having Fettel return as a ghost, while Point Man is back in the familiar role of a run and gunner. They loathe each other, but that have to work together because Alma, the supernatural psychic, is massively pregnant (the game is set nine months after F.E.A.R. 2, do the math), and her metaphysical contractions are tearing apart the world around them.
You'll have two completely different gameplay experiences, whether you play as Fettel or Point Man, and while the game really is meant to be played co-op, there's no buddy A.I. playing along with you if you play solo. Meaning you'll have even more different experiences if you go that route. Currently, you can only play in single player as Point Man, but the developers stressed "currently," which means we hope there will be a Fettel single player mode. But having said that, there's an impressive tandem that Fettel and Point Man get into, with their wildly different gameplay styles, and that's honestly the biggest hook about this game.
Point Man is a gunner. He carries modern-day weapons that any FPS player will be familiar with, and he seeks cover, aims, and pops guys with bullets. He can perform a 180 degree mantle cover switch when behind a wall if he needs to suddenly seek cover from something behind him. Which is nice because often you'll start getting shot in the back by who knows what, and flipping over your cover is a quick way to hunker down and face the opposite direction. He can also activate a bullet-time slowdown that Fettel doesn't have access to, and he's a fairly tough guy.
Fettel, on the other hand, is a ghost in every sense of the word. Remember Heretic and Hexen, which were basically Doom with magic? That's what Fettel's side of things feels like. You'll see his hand onscreen where you'd normally see a gun, and he can "tether" to people and possess them. You'll zap a bolt of power across a room, seize a guy, and you can keep him in that grasp, doing light damage to him, or you can put yourself right into his body, taking over complete control of him.
Fettel is fairly vulnerable in ghost form (yes, he can actually be killed as well, but Point Man can resurrect him), but when he's in control of a body, he's a juggernaut. He can also destroy the body that he's in as well. Although there's a flipside to playing Fettel, because there are certain things he needs to have a body to do in the game, like pilot some of the massive mech suits that are scattered around, but if there are no bodies ... then he's out of luck.
This also affects playing co-op as well. Let's say you aren't working with your partner, and you're just running off doing whatever you want. You'll quickly find that if you're Fettel, your Point Man co-player might get fed up and just gib everyone around, destroying their bodies completely so you don't have anything to inhabit. But that has a reverse as well. Fettel, being a ghost, can see things that Point Man can't, like hidden doors and other secrets. So if that player is mad at Point Man, he doesn't have to say anything.
The key is really to play co-op, and to play together. Fettel can suspend enemies in mid air while Point Man blows them away, and Point Man can call out locations and tell Fettel who might be particularly handy to possess. When the brothers both jumped into mech suits and started blowing everything away (with Fettel in a possessed body, of course), I decided that I need to jump onboard a check out more F.E.A.R. 3.