With the critical acclaim of Dragon Age Inquisition, it seems that developer BioWare has returned to the top of the RPG heap. But as fans now wait to see if the company can deliver a second hit with whatever's next from Mass Effect, there's one other property that may have slipped out of the minds of gamers altogether: Shadow Realms.
Revealed less than a year ago via cryptic, chilling teasers, the next game from BioWare's Austin offices has been out of the spotlight ever since. While that's to be expected from a game as inherently mysterious as Realms seems to be(blurring the lines between modern. medieval, and mystical), a new report claims that the project has run into several speed bumps behind the scenes.
The most recent details come courtesy of Kotaku, whose sources claim that the game is in the process of being largely redesigned, and "may have been totally rebooted." When we last heard, the 4 vs. 1 action/role-playing game was being designed as an online-only - potentially free to play - episodic experience. Now, while some sources state that the project has been cancelled, a reliable insider has a different story.
Specifically, claiming that in October the process of "overhauling" Shadow Realms began, with plans for a full campaign now in place. It's unclear if that means that the game has been completely re-imagined as a standalone campaign instead of an episodic online series, or the success of online games like Destiny have illustrated the need for single player content alongside cooperative.
Whatever the case, the game's planned Alpha has been postponed and its online servers shut down. With a presumed release date of 2017, it's possible that the changes planned have even led to the game's codename ('Avalon') being entirely changed to 'Trafalgar.'
According to the same source, the decision to re-imagine the project has been made alongside the move to more fundamentally incorporate EA's Origin systems and marketplace. Although EA's studios are entitled to a higher budget if they choose to integrate, the source doesn't state that the expanded budget is explicitly a reason for the studio's changes - but it certainly won't hurt.
Considering that other EA titles not relying on established brands or business models met untimely ends - namely Dawngate and Command & Conquer - the writing is clearly on the wall. The decision to take an original free-to-play game and give it a bigger, more conventional budget is typically the opposite of how games on the bubble proceed, so Shadow Realms just got a lot more interesting.
Read below for the game's official synopsis - though how accurate it may now prove is anyone's guess:
Join an ongoing adventure with new episodes released frequently. Experience the thrill of making your own choices as to the path you take through the story, uncovering new mysteries and revealing hidden twists unexpectedly as you progress. Fight as a modern-day Hero who suddenly awakens with magical powers and is pulled into a dark realm and centuries old battle. Team up with three other Heroes in adventures facing off against a fantastic array of demonic bosses and supernatural creatures in a raging war against the Shadow Legions to save all of humanity. Summon all your powers as you prepare to battle a player-controlled Shadowlord, who possesses the ultimate weapon – the human mind.
The power is yours. You’ve been chosen.
We'll keep you updated on more Shadow Realms news as it's released. For now, what do you make of the update? Does the possible reasoning behind the re-design seem cause for concern, or does the addition of a traditional campaign and a bit longer development time seem like a benefit? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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