Top 5 Sequels Taking Too Damn Long to Develop
I'm a huge fan of Assassin's Creed, but I am not jumping up and down with excitement over the release of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag later this month. It's not because the game looks bad--in fact, it looks awesome--and it's not because the last game let me down in any way (my review is about as glowing as I can get). No, I'm not that excited because it's only been one year. A lot of game designers and publishers have been trying to saturate the market with sequels that come out as quickly as possible--in the case of Ubisoft, once a year--and while that's great for the hard-core fans, it has some significant drawbacks. For one thing, Assassin's Creed III is notorious for its glitches, and I imagine the next one will be even worse, because the designers aren't taking enough time to figure out, much less learn from, their mistakes. Long development times makes for superior quality, and the reverse is clearly true.
|Didn't I just beat Assassin's Creed III?|
More importantly, absence makes the heart grow fonder. If Ubisoft took a year or two off from releasing sequels to Assassin's Creed, it might give fans like myself enough time to get excited again. There was a gap of over five years between Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto V, and the hype surrounding the latter's release was so great that its launch broke almost every sales record on the books.
This is not to say that even longer waits are better. In fact, once you reach a certain point, interest in a franchise will wane and there's little you can do to bring it back. The five sequels listed below are all games that we can be reasonably sure are in development, but the development cycle for each has reached that magic peak (which is a different for each game) and interest in the games can only be going down now. To the developers of these games, I urge you to hurry up, or at least tease some information that will get people excited again.
METROID (for the Wii-U)
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Nintendo is having a tough time generating proper interest in their next-gen system, which is largely a side effect of it not having any of Nintendo's core franchises represented yet. When I first saw demonstrations for how the Wii-U works, the only game I immediately saw potential for was Metroid. Now that I actually own one, my estimation of the Wii-U's potential for Samus Aran has only grown. And let's face it: despite my ardent defense of the game, Metroid: Other M is a bit of a disappointment, and the franchise needs something to bolster its reputation. There was an eight year gap between Super Metroid and Metroid Prime, but that gap didn't kill the franchise because it started on such a high note; Super Metroid is arguably the greatest platformer of its time, and maybe one of the greatest video games ever made. I doubt there are many people, if any, who put Metroid: Other M on the same pedestal, so the Big N better hurry up and put it behind them.
WHAT WE KNOW: Unfortunately, not much. Nintendo rarely abandons a franchise, but they also rarely announce a big game before its nearly complete. All we know is that a few of Nintendo's big name designers have expressed interest in putting the series on the Wii-U, most notably Shigeru Miyamoto, who argued that it's the franchise he most wants to see on the new system. There have been rumors going around concerning a game called Metroid Dread for almost a decade now, but I wouldn't put much stock in those these days.
BEYOND GOOD & EVIL 2
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Beyond Good & Evil is what you'd call a cult hit. It has stellar reviews and a rabid fanbase (myself included), but its initial sales were embarassingly poor. It's a quirky game involving talking animals, photography, and an alien conspiracy, and it was designed to be the opening of a new franchise. The potential is certainly there, and in an era where video games are getting less and less idiosyncratic, any franchise with a unique voice should take precedence.
WHAT WE KNOW: The same team behind Beyond Good & Evil have been working on-and-off on a sequel for ten years now. The game, tentatively titled Beyond Good & Evil 2, was first unveiled back in 2008, but has been plagued by uncertainty and confusion ever since. In 2010, Michel Ancel, the lead designer of both games, stated that he was keeping the development team small, so it would take a little extra time to complete. A year later, it was revealed that the team had stopped working on the game in order to help out with Rayman Origins. The last announcement was in May of 2012, where Ancel confirmed that the game was again in "active" development with the intent to be released for the next-gen consoles (Wii-U, Xbox One, and PS4).
MIRROR'S EDGE 2
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Mirror's Edge is one of the only truly original IPs to come out of the current console generation, especially in the first-person shooter category (where originality is about as scarce as ice in the Sahara). It's really only a "shooter" because you have the option to use weapons, but the game actively discourages it. The true gameplay focus is on free-running your way over, around, and through your obstacles. No other game is quite like it, even now, over six years after the game's release. Still, it's plagued by questionable design choices, graphics that make the game feel like a tech demo mixed with an old Esurance ad, and a structure that is far more linear than it logically should be. In the final estimation, Mirror's Edge is remarkable not because it's a great game, but because it has such great potential.
WHAT WE KNOW: According to reliable sources, a sequel has been in the works since at least mid-2009. There was a widespread rumor that the game was cancelled following a rejected early demo of the game in 2011, but EA was quick to announce that Mirror's Edge was an "important franchise" that they weren't going to abandon. It wasn't until earlier this year, however, that EA officially announced Mirror's Edge 2, which seems to be a prequel to the original that has an open-world focus (I guess they were reading my blog).
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: The Fallout series is no stranger to extended breaks in their development. The gap between Fallout 2 and Fallout 3 is a staggering ten years. Still, the first two games, though great, aren't what the series is known for today. Most people's first introduction was in 2008's Fallout 3, a landmark game by Bethesda that won multiple Game of the Year awards. 2010 did see the release of Fallout: New Vegas, but the game was so similar to Fallout 3 and came out so quickly following it that it never got the attention it deserves. Now, though, I think it's been just long enough. If a Fallout 4 were announced today, I imagine the fan response would be epic.
WHAT WE KNOW: When Bethesda Softworks borrowed the license for the series from Interplay, the contract allowed them to develop and publish three games, Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, and Fallout 4. We know Bethesda has been working on a big project for a few years now, and since the wrapping of Skyrim, they've announced that they've put most of their resources into this other, unnamed project. The wise money is on Fallout 4. (In case you're wondering, The Evil Within is being developed at a different studio.)
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: If you don't know, I'm not going to bother explaining it to you.
WHAT WE KNOW: Nothing. Zip. Zero. Nada. Absolutely zilch. Oh sure, there are rumors up your wazoo, and if you spend any amount of time online Googling "Half-Life 3" (I don't recommend this), you're sure to come across people who claim they heard from an insider that it's been totally scrapped right alongside other people who insist they have an uncle working on it who claims it's going to be announced at 3:00 p.m. tomorrow afternoon. The biggest and most recent "news" on the Half-Life 3 front is that a trademark for the title appeared on the European Union's Office of Harmonization for the Internal Market database (is that really a thing?) last week, but then promptly disappeared two days ago, replaced by a trademark for Portal 3. It all smells a bit hoaxy to me, as I'm starting to believe that the people over at Valve don't actually know how to count to three.
-e. magill 10/8/2013