Although the new Army of TWO game is set in Mexico, Electronic Arts used Germany to debut the sequel from Visceral Games, Army of TWO: The Devil’s Cartel. The third game in the franchise takes the shooting action to the violent streets of Mexico, and introduces a pair of new operatives, Alpha and Bravo. Players once again work for Tactical Worldwide Operations (T.W.O.), a private military outfit that arms its soldiers with the latest weapons and technology. Julian Beek, executive producer of Army of TWO: The Devil’s Cartel, explains what’s in store for shooter fans in this exclusive interview from Gamescom 2012.

What role has fan feedback played with the development of this third installment?

With the last two games, fans really loved weapon customization, and that the co-op experiences in the game felt meaningful. They loved customizing their masks. This sort of feedback meant there were already great features in the game that we wouldn’t have wanted to change, but we want to make sure that we deliver on those, for sure. Other feedback was sometimes around the tone of the game, and that was across a whole spectrum. What we were really trying to do with this game is make a really broadly appealing experience for the players.

What role have advances in technology since the last game played in allowing your team to open up things creatively?

Being able to use the Frostbite 2 engine to make Army of TWO: The Devil’s Cartel allowed us to concentrate on the creative, frankly. The technology is so strong, we can do just about anything that we can imagine. In this game, we went everywhere we wanted to go, and the Frostbite engine let us go there.

Can you talk about some of the specific places gamers will explore?

The literal setting, from a creative perspective, is Mexico. You end up in the heart of the Mexican drug wars. The engine itself allows us, when we go there and get into some pretty big fire fights, to blow a lot of stuff up. Whether it’s the smallest things, like blowing up cover, to the biggest things, like taking down buildings; that’s where we’re going.

Who are the new characters that people are going to be playing?

The previous two Army of TWO games had Salem and Rios, and they’re both in this game. But you play as Alpha and Bravo, the call signs for two new private military contractors that work with Salem and Rios. They head down to Mexico on a mission that I won’t say too much more about, but you’ll be playing as Alpha and Bravo.

How have you improved the co-op gameplay?

In this go-around of Army of TWO, we wanted to make sure that co-op was essential to success, not just an option. I think in a lot of co-op games, or games that add co-op, it’s just the ability for you to play on the same team. In Army of TWO, the previous games, there were key moments where you would interact together.

We’re keeping all of those moments, but we’re adding new ones where you might have split objectives; one might be in a vehicle, the other might be on ground. It’s absolutely essential that you help your partner out, or you won’t succeed in the mission.

What are your favorite weapons in this new game?

When I’m just running through the game, I love assault rifles. I think the combination of power and accuracy is great. Sometimes you get into fire fights and the guys are right on top of you. I love switching to the shotgun; it is very devastating. There are other weapons that you’ll equip at different points in the game. In particular, getting in a helicopter and getting on a mini gun is good times.

Can you talk about how players can make this experience their own?

When players get together and want to go through as a team and have specialties, the game is absolutely going to let you not only deck out your weapon with your money, but let you become a specialist. You could maybe pick long range if you’ve got a sniper rifle, and then really short range, you have a shotgun. I might be the guy who wants to be using the assault rifle most of the time and really trick that out and spend all my money on that. In different missions, you’re going to feel like you’re the key specialist that needs to go do this part of the mission, and your partner is going to feel like he’s really better decked out to go do the other part.

What are you most excited about having fans experience when this game comes out?

The key thing in this game is that it’s an action blockbuster. We want you to feel like when you sit down on the couch, the action comes right to you, and you can have fun right away. It’s not a stealth game; it’s a go get ‘em game. We want to bring that all the time. We want the game to be rewarding from the smallest thing you’ve got to do, all the way up to the biggest things that you have to do in terms of the destruction and the action.

Were there movies that influenced this action experience?

Sure; any summer blockbuster you can imagine. There are lots of movies that inspire us in different ways. Some for pacing, in terms of how quickly you go from one piece of action to the next, while others for tone. Certainly there are lots of movies that took place in Mexico, and some of their tone and authenticity we really liked. But as far as the game goes, the narrative is really its own. It’s not really influenced by any specific movie.