Mario responds to our Rugby Challenge
The nature of how the licensing situation evolved for Rugby Challenge meant that the game naturally leaned towards the Southern Hemisphere, and while we were able to include an amount of Northern Hemisphere content, it came into the mix much later in the development cycle which meant that the care and attention we gave it was necessarily less than the content we had been massaging for a while.
With Rugby Challenge 2, that has been less of an issue and, combined with our desire to present a much more globally balanced game, much more love has gone into the Northern Hemisphere teams, leagues, and stadia than last time.
New announced Northern Hemisphere licenses include the French Pro D2, the British and Irish Lions, and Barbarians FC. The inclusion of the British and Irish Lions Tour in particular is great because it not only helps bring in more Northern Hemisphere players and teams, but helps bring the Northern and Southern content together given the nature of their tour. The result for everybody is a much more balanced game content wise with a stronger global flavour.
How many licensed teams are available in total?
We can’t be explicit about all licenses and content just yet, but there are over 20 new licensed teams in the game.
What about stadiums - what new ones have been added, and were any removed? How many are in the game?
There are more than double the number of stadia in Rugby Challenge 2 versus the first game. The majority of additions have been Northern Hemisphere focused.
How up to date are the various real-world squads? Will there be any way to update these sorts of details over Xbox Live or PlayStation Network?
It’s always very challenging, with seasons constantly starting and ending somewhere in the world, and with the volume of player movements, to stay on top of the data. In addition to that, content needs to be locked down several months before the game actually ships, so at some level there will always be some aspect of the game that is out of date at launch. We’ve worked very hard though to keep things open for as long as possible, and allow for changes to happen right down to the wire which means we are as up to date as we can be.
As to how to accommodate changes down the track, we’ve continued our policy of allowing as much consumer customisation and editing of content as possible to provide the flexibility for gamers to make changes themselves as they happen.
Online roster updates have been discussed, but at this stage there is no formal plan for that.
What sorts of improvements can fans expect in the franchise mode?
The franchise mode has seen significant change. In Rugby Challenge, this was really an area where we were thinner on the ground than we wanted to be. It was there, but it would be difficult to describe it as genuinely compelling.
We’ve been able to do a lot of work around this to add more depth, breadth, and longevity to the mode to make it more engaging for the player. There is certainly more we can add in here over time given the complexity franchise modes reach in some games, but as it stands there is much more meat here than the implementation in Rugby Challenge.
Aside from the new features, what can players expect to have changed in the core gameplay?
In comparison to Rugby Challenge, I think I could characterise the core gameplay of Rugby Challenge 2 as “more rugby” and “more like rugby”. We’ve fleshed out the gameplay with the “missing” components like quick lineouts, quick taps, and forming mauls from lineouts, etc.
We’ve given the gamer more options by allowing players to be removed from the ruck, team strategies on both attack and defence, etc. We’ve improved the way advantage works. We’ve made the AI able to be smarter and more strategically savvy, making the game less reliant on “superior stats” to increase difficulty. Player positioning, defensive play and support play is much improved. Passing and offloads work better. Just a lot of stuff across the board.
Overall, it fundamentally just plays more like you’d want it and expect it to. More rugby. More like rugby.
Who will be commentating the game this time around?
Grant Nisbett and Justin Marshall return to commentate. We’ve managed to get to a place where the commentary is more timely and free flowing, so we have lifted the quality there.
Rugby Challenge 2 also includes French commentary from Eric Bayle and Thomas Lombard. They put in really good commentary capture performances, and the game actually sounds quite natural and good to listen to in French, even if I can’t understand what they are saying myself.
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