A Visceral End? Thoughts On The Studio’s Closure

Irony’s a cruel mistress and make no mistake. Just last week, we thought indie platformer Cuphead’s near-unprecedented smash success might signal a welcome change in the air for the gaming industry, particularly during a year abundant with studio closures.

But if the latest development in publisher EA’s fraught era at the helm of licensed Star Wars IPs reminds us of anything, it’s that some trends aren’t so easily bucked as one might hope.

Yes, Visceral Games, the studio behind the hit sci-fi-turned-horror FPS saga Dead Space as well as divisive but diverting spin-off Battlefield Hardline, has officially closed its doors on the orders of its EA overlords.

Before this troubling turn of events, the team was hard at work on a new action-adventure set in the universe of Jedi, Sith and Gungans, first teased as a “story-driven” IP upon EA announcing the project in 2016.

Work on said untitled licensed effort will still continue beyond Visceral’s shutdown, however, albeit in the hands of EA Vancouver and with an apparently revised modus operandi: expect less of a “story-based, linear adventure game” and more of a “broader experience that allows for more variety and player agency”.

That’s according to EA’s executive VP, Patrick Söderlund, and while we’ve no idea precisely what he means either, apparently a core focus of the refreshed project will be providing an experience that encourages players to return “for a long time to come”, presumably with extra content atop its “stunning visuals” and “authenticity”.

Shifts in the ‘marketplace’?

Given Söderlund’s emphasis on how much of the rationale behind EA’s tweaked approach has come thanks to the publisher “closely tracking fundamental shifts in the marketplace”, that the move has already prompted more than a few grumbles should come as no surprise.

Relying on focus groups and market trends has its benefits, of course, as anyone on the marketing team for 2015’s controversial Battlefront reboot will surely attest today, but allowing that to hamper creative vision carries equal risks, not least if it means we lose the opportunity for a Last of Us-rivalling tour de force of Star Wars storytelling as a result. And guess what? We like single-player games.

With all that said, it’s worth remembering that we only ever saw brief glimpses of Visceral’s IP in EA’s E3 showreels, so we’ll never know for sure whether the developer’s approach to the project would’ve born fruition or proven misguided in hindsight.

For now, then, let’s keep our thoughts with the enviably creative minds at the fallen studio who’ll now need to seek gainful employment elsewhere. No doubt they’ve bright futures ahead at EA or elsewhere, and we wish them the very best of luck en route.

EA shuts down Visceral Games

In a move that will only surprise people that haven’t heard of Electronic Arts before, EA has shuttered yet another studio. What is surprising is that the studio in question is Visceral Games. Visceral were hard at work on an eagerly awaited Star Wars game, with Amy Hennig spearheading development.

This was exciting because it was believed to be the re-birth of Star Wars 1313, which looked amazing but was binned once LucasArts ceased to be an actual developer and simply turned into a licensing operation. It was also exciting because Amy Hennig was one the major leaders of the Uncharted series. It was meant to be so perfect. Alas, it was simply not meant to be at all.


  • Visceral Games were most well known for the Dead Space series.
  • This is the latest developer that EA has closed down. EA is infamous for doing this and have a section of their Wikipedia page dedicated to studios they’ve shuttered.
  • Amy Hennig was brought onboard to direct Visceral’s ‘Uncharted-like’ Star Wars game. Her future with EA remains up in the air.
  • This looks like EA is moving away from single-player story-driven games in a big way. The game itself is not ‘dead’ but instead, development will ‘pivot’ to be multiplayer focused.
  • We have no idea who’s making this Star Wars game now. Good luck to them though.

The game itself hasn’t been cancelled but has instead seen the design take a ‘pivot’. An EA spokesperson said:

“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.”

So there it is. EA close down another studio, the ‘marketplace’ has decided that single-player games don’t make enough money and this Star Wars game, which started off as the hotly anticipated Star Wars 1313, now looks like a poisoned chalice.

All the best to those at Visceral affected. Dead Space was dope.

Source: Polygon

E3 2017: ‘A Way Out’ Reveal Trailer, from the makers of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

At the E3 press conference for Electronic Arts, known as EA PLAY, they unveiled new DLC’s, sequels and a couple of new IP’s, one of which is looking to bring back the beloved split-screen experience. Rising from the success of the hit 2013 title, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, A Way Out focuses on delivering a true co-op game, making it a must to continue through the story with a friend.

Starting off in prison, you’ll follow Vincent and Leo, two inmates drawn to each other and adhered a bond formed by one goal, to escape prison. Footage taking you through the escape itself and the epic journey afterward, high-tense moments are sure to ensue in this duo’s adventure.

Showcasing the use of split-screen by viewing a cinematic on one side, and controlling gameplay on the other, moving through the story seamlessly works beautifully. The reveal trailer gives gamers plenty of footage of how well this works and a grasp on the entertaining protagonist couple. With street-style brawls, gun shoot-outs with cops and a broad range of settings, A Way Out looks to fill every reason we still need co-op story gameplay.

Check out the official E3 trailer below and check back for more updates upon the release of A Way Out, coming early 2018.

Review: Mass Effect: Andromeda (PS4)

Exploring the depths of space, fighting off alien races before the brink of extinction takes its final bow, creating an alliance of super-soldiers of diverse species from across the galaxy. When Mass Effect first released there had been no game like it and it still remains comfortably prominent today. Taking advantage of the endless wonder of space while sprinkling in RPG elements and basic “cover ‘n’ shoot” gameplay, the Bioware series took off and kept dedicated fans eager to complete the Commander Shepard trilogy. Whether you’re a fan of how it all ended or one of the many who threw major upheaval during the final moments of the decisive ending, Mass Effect took players on a long, thrilling space expedition that sits radiantly amongst other popular trilogies.

In Mass Effect: Andromeda, Bioware’s next installation in the galactic adventure series, you leave the familiar faces of the Shepard crew and the Milky Way behind to embark on an excursion to Andromeda, a recently discovered galaxy 2.5 million light years away, over 600 years after the events of the original trilogy. Chasing supposedly habitable planets to create living environments for generations to come, you take control of one of the Ryder twins (male or female), awaking from a long, multi-century cryo-stasis nap. It doesn’t take long for things to heat up and the pressure to build upon landing in the Heleus cluster.

Unknown alien tech litters Habitat 7, the designated “new earth”, and patrolling foreign species known as Kett stay armed and ready for possible intruders. The gameplay is fluid, the easy navigating cover system works well and the combat feels more polished than any game in the series. Equipped to your armor is the new “jump-jet”, giving you a little more umph to your leap allowing extensive exploration through the rocky terrain. After meeting a couple of new crew members, Cora and Liam, and wiping off a few dozen Kett, events transpire leaving the plot in place, now guiding you along your mission as the Pathfinder.

Weapons you find early in the game are familiar as well as the biotic and tech powers used throughout the series. With a heap of skills to upgrade in three specific categories, combat, biotics and tech, you’re able to equip up to three powers at once. Interchanging the powers is a useful tactic, providing you a sense of profile freedom the more you progress through the game, switching between biotics expert to tech engineers to combat specialists. However you feel like playing the game is up to you at almost any moment, giving the game a fresh feeling after hours into the journey.

The armor that you equip is now broken up into four different pieces making full sets: helmet, chest, arms and legs. Pieces are dropped by enemies or bought from merchants and vendor kiosks. Mods can also be attached to your rig adding stat bonuses and weapon enhancements, giving you an edge in combat. All in all there’s plenty of customization, skills and weapons/armor to be found and equipped in the wide open galaxy of Andromeda.

A few hiccups in animation and an occasional glitch make for a harmless appearance; Andromeda looks to be up-to-par with current gen standards. While some facial expressions seem a little strange or obscure, more often they’re spot on giving off personal qualities that bring the game to life. Beautiful space settings and gorgeous planets look as brilliant as any game to date leaving much to discover with a number of different maps and locations, including the Nexus. Playing a role similar to the Citadel from the previous games (only still under construction), the Nexus is where you’ll find shops, clinics and plenty of friendlies looking for someone to send on various quests and missions throughout Andromeda.

With the sudden rise to Pathfinder status, Ryder is given the ship, Tempest, along with its own crew awaiting the arrival of their new leader. With a mission prioritized and an ambitious group of soldiers, scientists and new planets on the horizon, the journey has promising potential. Aside from minor struggling performance issues, which hopefully will receive a patch sooner than later, Mass Effect: Andromeda delivers an amicable experience filled with loads of new upgrades. Take the reins as Ryder and mold the legacy that awaits you in Andromeda.