The news arrived via EA Executive Vice President Patrick Söderlund on the status of Visceral's upcoming Star Wars game, which has now been shifted to a new EA team.
Visceral's acclaimed Dead Space 1 and 2 helped revitalize classic survival horror during an era when Resident Evil began chasing more action-styled gameplay. Dead Space itself succumbed to the trend, sadly, with the franchise's poorly received third-instalment, which also contained early experiments in gameplay-modifying microtransactions in "AAA" premium games. Visceral also produced the tragically underrated slash 'em up Dante's Inferno, which featured some of the medium's most grotesquely awesome depictions of Hell.
Visceral lost many of its core staff over the years, with ex-GM Steve Papoutsis leaving back in 2015 after the Battlefield Hardline spin-off shooter failed to meet expectations.
Visceral's Star Wars project, touted as a linear action adventure game was originally slated for fiscal year 2019. It will now arrive at a later date, headed up by EA Vancouver and other EA teams. Söderlund says that EA will find placements for "as many as possible" Visceral staff within other teams.
Our industry is evolving faster and more dramatically than ever before. The games we want to play and spend time with, the experiences we want to have in those games, and the way we play…all those things are continually changing. So is the way games are made. In this fast-moving space, we are always focused on creating experiences that our players want to play…and today, that means we're making a significant change with one of our upcoming titles.
Our Visceral studio has been developing an action-adventure title set in the Star Wars universe. In its current form, it was shaping up to be a story-based, linear adventure game. Throughout the development process, we have been testing the game concept with players, listening to the feedback about what and how they want to play, and closely tracking fundamental shifts in the marketplace. It has become clear that to deliver an experience that players will want to come back to and enjoy for a long time to come, we needed to pivot the design. We will maintain the stunning visuals, authenticity in the Star Wars universe, and focus on bringing a Star Wars story to life. Importantly, we are shifting the game to be a broader experience that allows for more variety and player agency, leaning into the capabilities of our Frostbite engine and reimagining central elements of the game to give players a Star Wars adventure of greater depth and breadth to explore.
It sounds as though Visceral's Star Wars game might have struggled in today's gaming landscape, which seems increasingly driven by service-based titles and more open-world style adventure games rather than the "linear" action described above.
It might seem to signal a deathblow for Dead Space, which many fans (myself included) hoped might be revived after Visceral was done with EA's Star Wars ambitious. There's a chance EA might revive Dead Space under another studio one day, but from the above commentary, it sounds unlikely EA would be interested in producing something that can't cater to a broader audience. Who knows.
Either way, I think I'll be dusting off Dead Space this weekend in honor of Visceral. You can grab it on Xbox One backwards compatibility and on Steam PC for around $20,
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