While the gaming community is currently buzzing about Evolve, Turtle Rock Studios' new asymmetric multiplayer shooter, things aren't looking quite as rosy for the other four-vs-one title in production. Shadow Realms, from BioWare's Austin studio, premiered at last year's Gamescom following a series of mysterious live-action promos, and promised gamers a unique spin on the traditional dungeon crawler. An early version of Shadow Realms was playable at both Gamescom and PAX, and many critics praised its unique gameplay and modern-fantasy aesthetic. It was a different kind of game for BioWare, but one that had a lot of potential.
Note the past tense. Earlier today, Game Informer broke the news that Shadow Realms has been cancelled. BioWare quickly confirmed the news on its official blog, thanking both the development team and fans for their hard work and enthusiasm, and explaining that the team was simply needed on other, higher profile projects.
Specifically, BioWare Austin needs all the help they can get on Star Wars: The Old Republic, the studio's sci-fi MMORPG. As BioWare says, with the release of J.J. Abrams' new Star Wars film next December, 2015 is shaping up to be "a massive year in the Star Wars universe," and it's all hands on deck to make sure that the studio's licensed tie-in is as good as it can be. BioWare claims that they have "great plans for expanding this epic game this year," and promises that more information is coming in the next few weeks. BioWare is also working on more content for Dragon Age: Inquisition, the next Mass Effect title, and at least one new, unnamed IP.
Shadow Realms' cancellation doesn't come as a complete surprise. Roughly a month ago, the game's alpha test was postponed, with rumors circulating that the whole project was being "rebooted."
Still, it's a shame. The world of Shadow Realms, which mixed traditional fantasy with modern aesthetics, looked like a nice change of pace from the Tolkien-esque medieval fantasy that dominates the gaming space, and it sounded like BioWare Austin had some interesting ideas about multiplayer storytelling. Supposedly, Shadow Realms was going to be episodic, with new content hitting every week. These new episodes would both offer new gameplay opportunities, as well as progress the game's plot; stories would last about a year, with multiple "seasons" planned.
The gameplay looked interesting, too, pitting one player (the "Shadow Lord") against four others. While most players would take traditional roles, like wizards and clerics, the Shadow Lord controlled the dungeon itself, dispatching traps and monsters to make the other players' journey increasingly difficult.
Star Wars: The Old Republic didn't exactly set the world on fire, and it's too bad that a promising new title was snuffed out to support a game that many players find fairly disappointing. Still, when a new IP goes up against a popular license, the latter will win almost every time. Let's just hope that BioWare Austin makes good on their word, and that the extra resources mean that The Old Republic will finally live up to its infinite potential.
Source: Game Informer