Thief Preview – The E3 Primer

A History of Non-Violence

Like the original games, much—if not all—of Thief is being designed so players can sneak through the game without killing anyone, or so the developers have said. Players will be able to avoid fights and sneak past guards by using the environment to their advantage. Should they be forced into a fight, they’ll be able to slip away using quick reflexes or by using gadgets to enable their escape.

The game’s developer Adam Badke says that Garrett is a thief, and with many tools in his employ, it won’t be necessary for him to murder anyone throughout the course of the game.

“Garrett moves through the city using shadows and darkness, he will encounter various scenarios with multiple challenges, steal priceless items and escape undetected. Players will have multiple ways to approach their objectives and each objective can be reached using Garrett’s various tools, by exploring and by playing with your environment,” he wrote.

“Each path comes with a set of challenges, encounters and looting opportunities. Difficulty options allow the experience to be scaled for hardcore fans of the original series, but to also let newcomers have a lot of fun. And yes, you can complete the game without killing anybody – Garrett is a Master Thief, not a killing machine!”

The City and The City

The setting in which Thief takes place has been one of the most important aspects of the previous games. Set within “The City,” a hub of commerce in a medieval world, The City is undergoing a technological renaissance. It’s a place that exists outside of human history but draws heavily from the real world—the London of 1666, replete with rat-borne plagues and streets of narrow angles.

Based on what we know of The City, each map within the game is set to provide the player with a wide array of options on how they choose to approach their targets and accomplish their missions. While not strictly non-linear, there are several different points of entry and methods of approach to cater to various playstyles for an objective. To enter a building, you might choose to scale a wall from the outside or enter from the basements, slinking from shadow to shadow and eluding guards as you go.


As a master thief, Garrett packs a host of lockpicks, a multi-purpose bow with elemental arrowheads fit for every foreseeable situation, and a blackjack to neutralize anyone who might detect his presence. Elemental arrowheads allow Garrett to extinguish flames with water, for example. New to Garrett’s arsenal is a grappling hook called “The Claw.” Thrown from the hip, the Claw allows Garrett to traverse the environment and get to hard-to-reach places like open windows and gantries.

Garrett now has the ability to Focus, which allows him perform actions like pockpicking and pickpocketing speedier and more effectively. While lockpicking a door, the ability allows Garrett to open it faster and get in before he’s detected. Likewise, the ability also highlights important objects, so you know what to pick up while scanning a room. When used in combat, Focus will allow Garrett to target weak spots on his opponents so he can dispatch them quickly and escape. It’s not unlimited, so you’ll have to use it sparingly—or not at all.

Just as in the previous games, Garrett can throw objects to distract guards, and use water-based elemental arrow tips to extinguish flames. Garrett can also spy through peepholes and eavesdrop on conversations in his vicinity. In other words, he’s the Garrett we know and love with a little something extra.

Character Progression and Loot

Garrett may be a master at what he does, but he still has the potential to improve. Players can buy upgrades by selling off loot accumulated throughout the game. Players will also be able to improve his skills, although the developers are hesitant to reveal to what extent such role-playing elements will come into play and how they may affect Garrett’s abilities as a whole.

All is Not Well at Eidos Montreal

Despite previews earlier this year, we’ve since come to learn (via Polygon) that the game’s development has been anything but smooth sailing for its makers at Eidos Montreal. The game has been supposedly plagued by a myriad of internal issues, ranging from high-profile hires and subsequent departures, all of which have served only to lengthen the game’s now five-year development time and take up an equal amount of resources, as content was created and scrapped with each new design lead.

The drama is hardly a thing of the past, as the studio only recently saw the departure of the game’s lead game designer Dominic Fleury. Nicolas Cantin is currently serving as the game’s Lead Director.

Regardless of the rumors and speculation about the game’s development history, what we know for a fact is that the game remains on schedule for a 2014 release on the next-generation platforms, including the PlayStation 4 and PC. We’ll be following up with its development come E3 2013, when the game is expected to make a huge showing, care of Square Enix.

Read more of Ian Miles Cheong’s work here, and follow him and Game Front on Twitter:@stillgray and @gamefrontcom.

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