Nintendo’s E3 2012 presentation takes place June 5, 2012, at 9:00 AM PDT. At that time, eager fans will finally get a good look at the final Wii U hardware and features, along with a number of games. Some details, naturally, have already leaked. The Wii U tablet controllers, for instance, have gotten a slight redesign. Additionally, despite rumors to the contrary, new reports insist that “Wii U” will remain the system’s name.
In advance of next week’s presentation, two new bits of discouraging information have surfaced. First, and most dramatically, the Wii U apparently does not support Epic’s Unreal Engine 4. Second, the previously announced Wii U port of Metro: Last Light is no longer in development. In sunnier news, Gearbox Software continues to tout the Wii U version of the recently delayed Aliens: Colonial Marines as the best of the bunch, thanks to the system’s “more modern tech.”
Epic unveiled the first pics of Unreal 4-powered visuals just a few weeks ago, and at that time we questioned whether Wii U would be capable of running the engine. Nintendo has been characteristically cagey about how powerful the Wii U actually is, but estimates from developers working with the hardware tend to be modest — Vigil Games says the unit is “on par” with Xbox 360 and PS3, while other (unnamed) developers claim Wii U isn’t even that powerful. Given that the “Samaritan” video designed to showcase Unreal 4′s features allegedly requires ten times the power of the Xbox 360 in order to run, where does that leave Wii U?
@DavidKalpakis No, at GDC Mike Capps said Wii-U will be Unreal Engine 3.
— Geoff Keighley (@geoffkeighley) May 29, 2012
After that Twitter exchange took place, Epic Games responded to an inquiry from CVG, noting simply that it, “has not confirmed platforms for Unreal Engine 4 beyond PC,” while indicating that Unreal Engine 3 will be supported by Wii U.
Needless to say, the inability to run Unreal Engine 4 could turn out to be a disaster for Wii U. Unreal Engine 3 has been ubiquitous this generation, and there is every reason to expect that Unreal Engine 4 will be just as successful once the next-gen consoles debut. Simply put, if the system can’t run Unreal Engine 4, then Wii U’s third-party support will likely be just as problematic (read: poor) as Wii’s. Look for more news on this topic as it develops.
Moving on to games, Metro: Last Light was featured during Wii U’s reveal at E3 2011, alongside such titles as Darksiders 2 and Ninja Gaiden 3. Sadly, the game is no longer coming to Wii U, and publisher THQ isn’t saying why. Speaking to Digital Spy, global brand manager Mark Madsen confirms that Metro: Last Light is “not in development,” without completely ruling out the possibility of a port at some point in the future.
“If it does happen, it won’t sim-ship with the other SKUs, but if the opportunity arises we’ll take a look at it.”
Perhaps Madsen’s followup statement, “The verdict is out on what we can do to maximise the code for the Wii U,” contains a hint as to why development was abandoned.
While it’s a shame that Wii U owners won’t get a chance to play Metro: Last Light, one shooter that is absolutely, positively, unquestionably in route to Nintendo’s next console is Aliens: Colonial Marines. Randy Pitchford and his studio, Gearbox Software, have been unerring supporters of Wii U in the press — a position they take once again in a new interview with Eurogamer. Pitchford has previously opined that Aliens has “more to offer” on Wii U, and that Gearbox is “very pleased with the hardware.” Now, Producer Brian Burleson has added his voice to the chorus, and he, too, sings the system’s praises.
“The Wii U is a powerful, powerful machine and it can do a lot of cool new things. And so the game itself, moving it over to work on the Wii U was not much of a chore.”
“Now the interesting thing is finding out all the cool ways you can use the controller to do new stuff with it. You can imagine all the cool things we can do, with this franchise and having a thing with you, right?”
Burleson goes on to promise that Aliens: Colonial Marines will “be better” on Wii U, due to the system’s “more modern tech.”
With Wii U’s official reveal scheduled to take place just one week from today, expect reams of rumors to pop up in the interim. For now, though, what are your thoughts on the Unreal Engine 4 situation — just how bad will it be for Nintendo if Wii U can’t support Epic’s next engine? Would it stop you from buying a Wii U? For that matter, are you disappointed that Metro: Last Light won’t be seeing daybreak on Nintendo’s new console? Let us know in the comments below.
The Nintendo Wii U will release this holiday season.
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