The Alpha and the Omega: Tau Volantis is the Answer to All Things in Dead Space 3
When we were first introduced to Isaac Clarke in Dead Space, we didn’t know what was going on. CEC? What kind of organization is that? Planet cracking? Markers? Praising Altman? What the hell is all this stuff? All we knew, going in, was that the main character’s girlfriend Nicole was aboard a derelict vessel called the USG Ishimura, some sort of gigantic planet-cracking ship. It had been drifting around in space aimlessly. Sort of. Kind of.
That is, until you and your team arrived.
It’s dark, eerie, and spine-tingling. Upon boarding the vessel, you could already tell that something was amiss. However it was when the first glimpse of the Necromorphs showed up that we knew we’d be in for one hell of a nasty ride.
Fast forwards a few years later, and we’re treated to Dead Space 2, Clarke’s next adventure. By now we know that the Markers are some sort of reverse engineered abomination, and they’re somehow the source of Necromorphs. We also know that, by the end of the game, Clarke plays an integral part in the creation (and destruction) of Markers.
Perhaps the biggest question is, why? Why does the original Marker exist in the first place? How does it create Necromorphs? Loaded questions yes, but in an interview with Game Informer, creative director to Dead Space 3 Ben Wanat took a moment to discuss the horrors we will be privy to in the next icy adventure.
So what are we going to see in Dead Space 3? Yes, we already know that we’ll have drop-in and drop-out co-op moments with newcomer John Carver. Yes, we know that it will be set on an icy planet named Tau Volantis. According to Wanat, all of our burning questions will also be answered.
“We kind of wrote a backstory for the whole franchise, in a way,” he said. “It’s not a completely detailed story for everything to begin with, but as we started fleshing it out, we started figuring out what the entire arc of this whole thing would be. And what we really thought was important for the third game was to start answering some questions.
“So, we did get some feedback on the second game where people were like, “you know that was a great game, but what is the marker and why does it do what it does? What is its ultimate purpose?” We thought that for the third one it would be really important to really give people some concrete answers and really start to get into a lot of that lore that we’ve usually been kind of hazy with in the past.”
Coupled with that, the team at Visceral Games might also give us a taste of a what’s in store for the future of the Dead Space series. Right now though, everybody is focused on the new…well, almost everything. The most mysterious of all is Tau Volantis, a brand new setting that marks (haha) a definite departure from previous iterations of the Dead Space universe. It’s not a space vessel, it’s not a giant space station, and there aren’t any dark corridors (that we can see yet). So what’s the the shift to an open planet, and a frigid one at that?
Short of spoiling everything for us, Wanat cryptically explained that Tau Volantis may be the end of all things, or maybe the beginning, depending on how you see it. “I can’t tell you what the history [of Tau Volantis] is because that is a large part of the plot of the game, but the planet is very important to the Dead Space universe,” he continued. “Everyone is drawn there very specifically because they were looking for a way to stop the markers, this epidemic that has gotten out. What they end up finding there is going to be extremely important and very revelatory for this series. This is where they get all of their answers, so as you can imagine it’s a very important place in the entire mythology. They’re going to find some stuff on the planet that is going to lead to some really interesting reveals.”
Towards the end of the second story we know that the Marker on The Sprawl was destroyed thanks to the mind game that Clarke had to take part in. And the first was sort of sent on its merry way. However, now that EarthGov has the necessary materials to build numerous Markers and potentially cause more Necromorph issues, we’re left wondering if they did (or did not) in Dead Space 3.
“Well, what we know from the end of two is that there have been quite a few of the out there that the government has been building,” said Wanat. “We don’t know how many are out there, but this overseer in the radio broadcast at the end of the last game, he explicitly talks about the other marker sites. That becomes an important element in the story of Dead Space 3. It is an extension of that that ultimately causes the situation that we end up in in three.
“But there is also a past to the markers which I thought was really important to tie into. If you remember the marker from Dead Space One that they found on Aegis VII was a man-made marker and it had been buried. The government had been searching for it and they sent Kendra over to go get it. Well she ended up dying and the marker got lost and then in the animated movie, Aftermath, Nolan Stross and his team went there and they found a shard.
“They didn’t bring back the shard, but they managed to bring back the blueprints on how to build markers encoded in Stross’ head. They also found the same blueprint in Isaac’s head. Isaac was used along with Stross to build a marker on the Sprawl, and now the government suddenly has the technology to build markers on their own. So by the end of that story you find out that they have built markers extensively, or at least they have plans to build them extensively at sites all over the galaxy.”
One must ask then: how did the original Marker, found on Aegis VII, find its way there? If Clarke and Stross both had the code to build Markers in their head all along, then maybe somebody, like Unitology founder Altman, had a way to build that very first Marker. Again, Wanat was reluctant to give out the goods prematurely, but he again pointed out that this would all come full circle, and more, in Dead Space 3.
“…you can look through the logs and you can read through and make your own conclusions, but somebody built that [marker on Aegis VII] and it got buried and it got put on a planet that was blacklisted, nobody is allowed to go there, nobody is allowed to mine there. So you’ll have to draw some conclusions as to why it was there, who put it there, and why did they make the planet off-limits. All of that history comes full-circle and becomes important in Dead Space 3.”
We hope that the new setting and story elements will still retain the moments of horror in DS3. However, the new elements to the game don’t stop there. With EarthGov soldier John Carver as a brand new co-op partner, players have been voicing their speculation and doubts about how this will all work out. However, Wanat assures us that Carver’s part to play is just as important as Clarke’s.
“He’s actually a pretty interesting character,” said Wanat when asked about the role of Carver and his personal story. “On the surface he’s just a soldier guy, he’s more of a grunt, he’s a sergeant in EarthGov Special Ops. But underneath all that he’s a family man who is just not good at it at all. He’s a horrible father; he’s a horrible husband. A lot of that has to do with his experiences in the war.
“He’s kind of torn up inside, but he’s not the kind of guy that’s going to wear his emotions on his sleeve. He keeps it all inside, much like Isaac finds it very difficult to express himself, Carver has his own past buried inside. As you play through the game you’re going to start dredging up some of what it is that makes Carver who he is and kind of what his place is and what his role is in the story.”
With all of these loose strands of story ready to be tied in Dead Space 3, now we’re wondering if there will be more in the Dead Space universe. Will the unitologists find a way to create Markers themselves? What if the events on Tau Volantis don’t end up being the closure we want? Well, how awkward it would be to have another Mass Effect 3 ending debacle, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Dead Space 3 is slated to be released sometime in 2013, and we’re looking forwards to the thrills and chills Visceral is ready to send our way.
To see what else Ben Wanat had to say about Carver, the new Necromorphs that we’ll see on Tau Volantis, and the Unitologists, read up on the full interview here.