During the Game Awards 2020, one of the biggest reveals of the night was the long-rumored Perfect Dark from The Initiative. It's still early in development but based on what we've seen so far, players can expect a blockbuster reinvention of this classic IP.
A new team brings new ideas and while some things will stay the same, there's bound to be plenty of surprises in store. Here's everything you need to know about Perfect Dark.
What is Perfect Dark?
Perfect Dark is a first-person, blockbuster spy thriller being developed as the first project by The Initiative, a relatively new part of Xbox Game Studios that was first founded in 2018 with Darrell Gallagher, formerly head of Crystal Dynamics, as studio head. There's a small army of industry veterans from Crystal Dynamics, Naughty Dog, Sony Santa Monica, and many other places who have been hired to work on this new project.
The original Perfect Dark was developed by Rare and released in 2000 for the Nintendo 64 as a spiritual successor to GoldenEye 007, which was also developed by Rare. Perfect Dark Zero was also developed by Rare and released in 2005 for the Xbox 360. A Perfect Dark remaster was released in 2010 for the Xbox 360. Both titles are playable on the latest Xbox consoles through Xbox backward compatibility.
Perfect Dark trailer
The first cinematic trailer for Perfect Dark was revealed during the Game Awards 2020. In the words of studio head Gallagher, it's designed to help set the tone for this world. You can watch it below.
Perfect Dark story, gameplay and features
The new Perfect Dark is a "secret agent thriller set in a near-future world." In an interview (opens in new tab) (which you can watch above), Darrell Gallagher, studio head of The Initiative, explained that the team really liked the idea of secret agents, especially one like Joanna Dark, a "female secret agent in a world of corporate crime." Game Director Dan Neuberger added that, "There really isn't a game out there that's hitting that sort of blockbuster secret agent vision."
Blockbuster is the key word here, as Gallagher also added that he wants this game to stand out "among our peers in TV and movies."
Perfect Dark is something of a cult classic game and there's a lot the team is drawing on in order to build up on, and not replace, the original, even as the team is trying to walk the balance of not staying too devoted to the past. "The gadgets stand out, still. Some of the wild guns stand out, still," design director Drew Murray noted.
"One of the things we thought about is how to differentiate what we call spy-fighting versus what you'd see in a traditional first-person shooter," Murray added. "Sliding under things, jumping over things, we really wanted to play up the physicality and being in the world. Getting some of that camera movement that we see watching body cameras, GoPros and trying to get that excitement of moving in places and in ways that you and I don't."
Lead writer Christine Thompson says that the story is set in the near-future, where an ecological disaster has taken place, or "eco sci-fi." This is a world where corporations are helping people and saving the world on the surface but there are sinister things that need to be exposed. DataDyne isn't mentioned by name but given how prominent its logo appears in the cinematic trailer, it's almost certainly one of the corporations involved.
You can take a look at some of the official concept art below.
In Sep. 2021, The Initiative revealed that Square Enix-owned developer Crystal Dynamics is assisting on the project. Crystal Dynamics is primarily known as the team behind the Tomb Raider franchise but also worked on Marvel's Avengers. Interestingly, Initiative head Gallagher is the former studio head of Crystal Dynamics. At the time of this announcement, The Initiative noted that the game was still in "early development."
Crystal Dynamics is a large studio, operating two satellite teams in the form of Crystal Northwest and Crystal Southwest, in addition to the main hub of developers.
What platforms is Perfect Dark coming to?
Based on how other Xbox Game Studios titles are released, we can infer that Perfect Dark is coming to Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and PC. Due to how far out the game is, we shouldn't expect to see an Xbox One version released, as most future Xbox first-party games are coming only to the newest generation of consoles, as well as PC.
Like other big Xbox first-party games such as Starfield, Perfect Dark will likely be playable on Xbox One, mobile devices and more platforms through Xbox Cloud Gaming. This allows the developers to focus their efforts on current-generation hardware, while streaming the game to platforms that don't have the processing power to natively run the game.
When is Perfect Dark's release date?
Perfect Dark does not have a release date and since it's still in early development as of Sep. 2021, we wouldn't expect to see it until 2023 at the earliest. When it does release, it could end up being one of the best Xbox shooters available. Like all Xbox Game Studios titles, it'll also be available in Xbox Game Pass.
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