In Ubisoft's South Park: The Fractured but Whole, choosing your character's skin color and gender identity affects the game's difficulty. Originally announced in early 2014, Ubisoft's South Park: The Fractured but Whole is finally approaching its release in October.
While the tactical RPG takes a lot of influence from its predecessor, South Park: The Stick of Truth, there are several differences in the long-awaited sequel, like how the children dress up as superheroes instead of fantasy characters. Additionally, there's a difference in how the characters built by players affect the game's difficulty.
Eurogamer revealed that Ubisoft has expanded its basic character creation tool to feature a wide range of new options, including expanded skin color choices and the ability to choose gender. Just adding some new boxes to fill is not all that Ubisoft changed here, however. For the first time in the series, players can choose to be female or "other" and if they identify as cisgender or transgender. This slightly affects the lore of the direct prequel Stick of Truth since the protagonist was forced to be a cis boy, but depending on the choice of skin color, the game changes difficulty.
The Fractured but Whole's difficulty scale is determined by the skin color of the created character, meaning that if the protagonist is white, the game will be as easy as possible. The darker the skin tones go, the harder the game gets. According to a line by South Park mainstay Eric Cartman in the game, "This doesn't affect combat. Just every other aspect of your whole life." Eurogamer notes that while battles will not be harder, this determines "the amount of money you receive and the way other characters speak to you throughout the course of the game." The South Park series is known for tackling social commentary head-on and more of that is seen here while also being tied to a video game mechanic.
The Stick of Truth was faithful to the animated series, including over-the-top crude adult humor in just about every way imaginable. This caused some international releases of the game to have censored content, meaning that some players in Europe and Australia could not access all of the content originally planned. This time, however, Kimberly Weigend, Associate Producer for The Fractured but Whole, confirmed in an interview with Daily Star that the international ratings board has cleared the series' latest entry and "there are no content issues across all countries. Everyone around the world will play the exact same content in The Fractured But Whole."
The expanded character creation gives players that played Stick of Truth the ability to not feel bogged down by sticking with their previous "New Kid," while also giving those new to the series a wide variety of options to create the ideal protagonist. It is unclear whether the difficulty change is well-implemented because South Park: The Fractured but Whole is still in development, so fans will have to wait and see when it releases next month.
South Park: The Fractured but Whole will be available for PS4, Xbox One, and PC on October 17.