Hello Neighbor 2 brings some major changes to the original stealth formula, including a wider open-world sandbox, multiple creepy characters, and neural networks that make enemy characters more dangerous than ever.

IGN sits with TinyBuild CEO Alex Nichiporchik, game franchise director Mike Rafiienko, assistant producer Nadya Zhuk, and lead designer Alex Kravchenko, a little deeper than fans expect from the game’s sequel. I got the opportunity to dig deeper.

Hello Neighbor 2 aims to significantly extend the multimedia stories TinyBuild is trying to create for its franchise, as well as many of the factors that contributed to the commercial success of its predecessor. The game’s exclusive hands-off look has taken a closer look at the game’s new open-world sandbox settings, quirky characters, and intuitive AI.

Expand your neighborhood

As mentioned in our First preview One of the biggest changes in Hello Neighbor 2 in the game is the new open world sandbox style. The game is a remarkable leap compared to its predecessor, and it looks great with a complete graphics overhaul.

“Raven Brooks is not a particularly big city,” says Kravchenko. “But it’s pretty crowded with all the other bright characters that are colorful and funny. I think it’s gorgeous and I think our artist did a great job.”

With the release of Hello Neighbor 2, players will be able to explore the city of Raven Brooks as they please. Stepping into the shoes of the game’s new protagonist, investigative journalist Quentin, the game’s sandbox style is happening in town to fans, making each player’s research feel personal to them. It provides tools to dig deeper into the event.

Hello Neighbor 2-Open World Image

With its newly discovered freedom, one particular feature that is likely to be useful in Hello Neighbor 2 arrives in the form of a progress pinboard. In contrast to a system that allows players to track current missions through goals on the menu screen, Hello Neighbor 2’s pinboards reflect that findings look more like clues than storybeats.

Pinboards come into play when you come across game clues that may help you investigate the story. At this point, the indicator flashes on Quentin’s watch, indicating that he has found something new and noteworthy before the evidence is automatically added to the office pinboard as a photo of what he found.

Its ability to track discoveries more easily may come as a welcome addition compared to the first Hello Neighbor received. Launch criticism of the difficulty of negotiating puzzles..

Hello neighbor

Hello Neighbor 2’s open-world sandbox setting is impressive, but without the cast of charismatic and eerie characters, it’s far from perfect. “In Hello Neighbor 2, we tried to focus on creating multiple different characters, each of which is very unique in its own way and requires a special approach from the player,” explains Kravchenko.

“”[The story includes] All characters and it are interconnected. It’s not enough to go to your neighbor’s house and understand the whole story. You need to travel through the village to understand what is happening and how all those characters are connected. “

In the conversation, the team elaborated on the two characters from Hello Neighbor 2. In the first game, adversary Peterson acted hostile to the player throughout the game’s story, but Hello Neighbor 2’s character has a range. Of behavior that depends on when and where you encounter them.

Baker Gerda shows off her signature cherry pie.

Baker Gerda shows off her signature cherry pie.

This is the case with Baker Gerda, who I met during the in-game bakery business hours. When we first met Gerda, she was taking care of the cashier and watching over the baked goods inventory. “This is a bakery,” says Krafchenko. “And because this is a public zone, she’s kind to us because we can walk around and she’s not offensive to us. […] ”

“”[A number of characters] There are different daily routines depending on the part of the day. For example, in the middle of the night she may go upstairs to sleep in bed or do something suspicious or suspicious that she doesn’t want others to know.This is where our research is [takes place] And they may come across things about characters that we don’t want to know about. “

Hello Neighbor 2-Character image

While the various NPC characters in Hello Neighbor 2 have their own daily routines that players can discover to assist in their investigation, the game also allows them to interact with them. By doing so, Hello Neighbor 2 players are forced to trick the game’s NPCs into creating items that provide the necessary tools to bypass other NPCs that may be causing the problem. can do.

“To solve a small quest, we need to plan positively,” explains Kravchenko. “For example, to enter the mayor’s house, you must first stop at the bakery to get a dog treat. [you can use these to] Distract the dog before entering. Alternatively, if you want to make friends with a police officer, you can give them a donut to reduce their aggression and allow you to investigate yourself. There are all sorts of possibilities and we tried to interconnect all the characters and what they do. “

The first preview of the game briefly touched on this by explaining that certain objects in the game create temporary status effects that briefly interfere with the game’s AI. However, in a recent chat, Kravchenko digs deeper into this idea and explains that in-game items can affect your character differently depending on who you use. For some characters, applying a cherry pie to the face can be distracting for a short time in the shower, but for other characters, the same trick helped as the character wiped the mud and continued. To chase you that may disappear.

Mr. Otto who takes care of the model duck.

Mr. Otto who takes care of the model duck.

The team was eager not only to show off the town’s bakery, but also to share more about the game’s resident taxider mist, Mr. Otto. “Mr. Otto lives outside the village and doesn’t like intruders,” says Krafchenko. Among the various areas of the town that were unveiled during the gameplay preview, Mr. Otto’s house certainly felt like one of the more ominous. Upon discovering the character, he stood in his yard and prepared a loaded rifle.

“One of the things we really focus on is that we need to understand what this character is, the differences between them, and what approach we need to take with the character. “Kravchenko continues. “for example, [Mr. Otto] Shoot you in great danger, you may have to be very stealth with him. […] Other characters may be distracted by the sound or scared and demanded to die.Yes [overall], There are many things we can work with. “

Watch around

But just because there are more ways to fight AI characters doesn’t mean they won’t fight back. Hello Neighbor 2 is equipped with a self-learning AI so that enemy characters constantly threaten players. It develops player actions from across the community and learns how to surprise them.

“Each player knows that it will have some impact on AI,” explains Kravchenko. [for] Depending on the play style you choose, AI [this] Over time, you’ll feel like you’re part of something bigger than a play session or survey. It feels very personal because I did the research in my own way, but at the same time it can affect the entire community, so I’m serious about doing that with AI machine learning. “

Hello Neighbor 2-new screenshot

As AI is set to grow and learn, I wanted to know more about the long-term goals that developers had for the neural networks they were building. The team explained that one of its comprehensive goals is to be able to teach AI improvisation.

In this way, the AI ​​uses community knowledge to predict what the player’s next move will be at the moment both the player and the character are trying to betray each other. This creates a series of enemies within Hello Neighbor 2 that not only makes you feel more human, but also creates a challenging and unique environment for the franchise community to overcome.

According to Kravchenko, the problem is to get the balance right in terms of the difficulty of the game. “One of the biggest design challenges is not just to create a terminator that is always better and over-optimized than you, because it’s no longer interesting,” he says. “Therefore, AI is a valuable enemy to you and you need to adapt to your playing style and how skilled you are.”

Since different AI characters are set to launch in the game, seeing how different Hello Neighbor 2 characters react to their environment is especially important when learning about player behavior. It’s certainly interesting. The team briefly discussed plans to add new characters to the mix after launch to grow the game, but at this point we couldn’t share any further details.

At the end of the time we spent together, CEO Alex Nichiporchik summarized his thoughts on the next game and emphasized how far the team has progressed since the original title of the franchise was released. “I’m really surprised that the original is working with seven people,” Nichiporchik concludes. “Currently there are 100 really talented people working in very different time zones. With all that happened with the pandemic, we found our product here where many people are really excited. And talking is really exciting [it].. “

As announced at The Game Awards last night, Hello Neighbor 2 will be available for pre-order from April 7, 2022. The release date of the game itself hasn’t been announced yet, but anyone who pre-orders Hello Neighbor 2 can get it. Access to the beta version of the title.

Be sure to check out the details of Hello Neighbor 2. Our first preview Of the game.

Jared Moore is a freelance writer for IGN.You can follow him twitter..