Visceral Games, the studio behind Dead Space, Dante’s Inferno, and Battlefield Hardline and which was most recently working on a still-unannounced Star Wars game, has been closed down. Electronic Arts vice president Patrick Söderlund confirmed the closure in a statement, in which he also said that the design direction of Visceral’s Star Wars project will undergo a “significant change.”
“Our Visceral studio has been developing an action-adventure title set in the Star Wars universe,” Söderlund writes. “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.”
An internal email obtained by Kotaku also indicates that creative director Amy Hennig – of Uncharted and Last of Us fame – is off the project. Hennig left Naughty Dog in March 2014 and shortly therafter announced she was working with Visceral.
“A development team from across Worldwide Studios will take over development of Ragtag, led by the EA Vancouver team that has already been working on the project,” the email says. “Steve Anthony will lead this team, and we will use much of the work that has been done to date by Visceral—the assets of Ragtag that have already been built will be the foundation of this new game.”
You have to wonder what Söderlund means by “greater depth and breadth.” Will this Star Wars game become an open-world game, or a longer lifespan of paid content and updates? It’s interesting that Söderlund mentions Frostbite specifically—this is also the engine that BioWare’s Destiny-like sci-fi cooperative game Anthem will run on. You’d have to think EA would avoid publishing two similar sci-fi games in a short period.
The change also means a delay, from late in EA’s 2019 fiscal year to “a new time-frame that we will announce in the future.”
Söderlund didn’t say what role Hennig will play, if any, in the future of the project, but given its move away from a “story-based, linear adventure,” it’s a possibility that she won’t be involved further. As for what’s in, that remains to be seen—but a game that people “will want to come back to to” for a long time to come suggests that whatever it is, it won’t be the ‘Star Wars Uncharted’ we were expecting.