Army of Two centered on the exploits of two mercenaries blasting their way through missions in Somalia, Afghanistan, Kiev and other locales who become caught up in a deadly, home-grown conspiracy. The game was generally well-received but many reviewers took issue with the frat-boy mentalities of the game’s heroes, a complaint perhaps most succinctly expressed by Penny Arcade.
“What didn’t work was really the tone,” Schneider, executive producer on Army of Two, said in an interview with Gamasutra. “If you think about it on a scale, that’s a good problem to have – tone is more easily fixable than having people say, ‘You know what? I don’t even like the core fantasy or the core gameplay that you’re doing’.”
Creative Director Alex Hutchinson, who didn’t work on the original release, said he thought the reaction to the first game was “fascinating for a couple reasons.”
“One is that people seemed to feel that the game was celebrating bad behavior. Actually, if you play it, I think it’s amoral. It has no opinion,” he said. “That’s really interesting to me from a development perspective, because what it means is the press wants you to punish the bad guys. They don’t want you to have no opinion about the bad guys. They want to say, ‘No, but they’re evil! They need to lose!’ And I think that’s kind of sad.”
“Isn’t it more interesting to say to the player, ‘What should you do? What do you do? And what is your reaction?’ I actually thought that was a little disappointing, even though I agree that the tone that we’re going for in the new one is more appropriate and will hit a wider audience,” he added.
Despite the tonal shift, gamers shouldn’t expect non-stop doom-and-gloom in the sequel. “Humor is kind of a hallmark of the franchise,” Schneider continued. “We want to make sure that we bring back humor in the game. It can’t be just 100 percent straight and serious all the time. They have to be able to make a sarcastic remark, as long as it’s dark.”