Before spending hands on time with South Park: The Fractured but Whole, I was sure that South Park could no longer do anything to shock me. That notion went out the window within five minutes. There’s no doubt this will be a talking point for years to come.
Its writers find the line that shouldn’t be crossed, cross it, throw the line as far as possible into the distance and immediately begin marching towards it again. Anything that can be said for the television show applies to The Fractured But Whole; the core teams of both are working hand-in-hand to ensure this experience is more like playing an episode than ever before.
The New Kid from The Stick of Truth makes a return as the playable character, but will have to work even harder to make it back to the top of the kids’ hierarchy.
“You were King Douchebag in the last game and Cartman — well, you get the sense he got a little bit tired of you being the best one,” Game Director Jason Schroeder told Stevivor. “He changes games on you and now you’re playing superheroes and he’s looking to keep [his alias] the Coon on top.
“[Cartman’s] like, ‘Maybe I’ll let you play.’ Maybe you can be a junior member to The Coon and friends,” Schroeder continued. “You work your way up through that pedigree and hope to even maybe eventually get your own superhero name.”
In this hands-on demo, The New Kid starts out as a lowly sidekick, joined with Malkinson’s alter ego, Captain Diabetes.
“His only claim to fame is that he’s the kid in town with diabetes,” Schroeder confirmed with a laugh.
“It’s been a few days [since The Stick of Truth],” he continued. “There’s a mystery that’s going on in town. Our fans will see a little bit in this demo; going out at night, the adults are acting funny. ‘What could possibly be going on?’, the kids are asking. The adults don’t seem to act the same as they do during the day.
“For other adults, we know that that’s considered getting drunk; they’re just hanging out. For kids, it’s like, ‘Oh, there must be some sort of major conspiracy going on.’ And that always turns out to be true, ’cause that’s South Park.”
The New Kid and Captain Diabetes have a simple mission in the demo: infiltrate the local strip club, the Peppermint Hippo.
From the moment I entered the club — by sneaking through the bathroom of course — its quality was obvious. I almost didn’t spot the used condom stuck to the ceiling because my focus was on an inebriated guest aggressively slurring at me while endlessly urinating. Once I saw the decoration up there I (obviously) had to throw a firecracker to see if I could knock it down and collect it. It worked… but in the end, I decided not to loot the resulting puddle.
Quite literally, that was just my first thirty seconds within South Park and I was already squirming. After entering the main room in the club, my mission expanded. We had to find a dancer with a rather specific tattoo that goes by the name Classi. You know, Classi “with an I, and a little dick hanging off the C that bends around and fucks the L out of the A, S, S.” By that point, I was wishing I could have just misspelled it.
Anyway, to track her down we needed information; the best way to do it was to talk to some guests. Since it was loud in the club, a private room seemed the the best place for a civil conversation. It isn’t long before the kids decide to give lap dances to two absolutely wasted businessmen. Yep. Once again, I start to squirm in real life as The New Kid gyrates, bumping and grinding away while farting to the rhythm of the music for some reason. After this disturbing mini-game, the dance enthusiasts become hostile and decide to attack — the VIP room then enters battle mode.
Battles have changed quite a bit since The Stick of Truth, feeling more like a tactical-style RPG. It’s nice, right of the bat, because it feels much more deliberate and offers more control. It also feels far more flexible, with depth that’s not just limited to positioning on the battlefield itself. If you’re playing for the story and not the combat, you’re able to change the difficulty and glide right through, back to used condoms and classy, erm, Classi.
“The combat challenge, it can go from casual to a mastermind level of difficult,” Schroeder said. “On the casual setting, you’re going to hopefully find the battles engaging, but you’re probably not going to need to worry to much about managing your consumables and your healing and stuff like that. You don’t need to spec The New Kid as a support, healing class character. You can just everybody go in and run and gun and destroy everything in a fun way.”
“At that more mastermind level difficulty, you better be crafting. You better be keeping up your inventory of items,” Schroeder continued. “You probably got to take a hard look at the type of enemies that you’re encountering and who you’re bringing into your party,” he continued. “What powers you have equipped. Because before any fight, you can jump into the menu, change your powers, change your buddies that you’re bringing along and just really prepare. You can even craft before you start your fight.”
After getting just a little taste of The Fractured but Whole — yeah, I just heard that — I can’t wait to dive back into it when it launches on 17 October. Yeah, I just heard that one too. Let’s all cross our fingers and hope we won’t have to play a censored version in Australia this time around.
Stevivor was flown to E3 2017 as a guest of Ubisoft to cover the entire event. This relationship does not prevent Stevivor from covering other publishers’ titles, nor does it impact the opinions of any other of our authors covering E3 2017.