Final Fantasy VII Remake Will Be Episodic And Feature A Dynamic ATB Combat System

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During the Sony PSX 2015 event a new trailer for Final Fantasy VII Remake was revealed, creating quite the stir in the process. In this new footage there was quite a bit of information to digest. The members of Avalanche (Barret, Biggs, Wedge and Jesse) and Cloud Strife speak during the  trailer, giving a glimpse into the current state of the voice acting and how these characters will sound. The graphical fidelity of the footage definitely matches what was seen in the announcement trailer for this work in progress title. Some of the video shows the player as Cloud running through the streets and Mako reactor facilities of Midgar. However, the bigger reveal shows some of the battle sequences, which looks feature a real-time combat system accompanied with a small window of options and character status window. This display of action RPG game play has provoked many reactions from fans of the Final Fantasy franchise, with some embracing this new system and others longing for the familiar Active Time Battle system. Despite first perceptions, this trailer technically does feature the ATB system, but it is presented in a more dynamic way and does not telegraph itself particularly well.

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Cloud Strife takes a swing at one of the Shinra troops.

The characters have received a heavy graphical overhaul and some have been heavily redesigned. Barret specifically has seen many revisions in terms of his build and his outfit. It is nice to also see more attention given to Biggs, Wedge and Jesse of Avalanche. The environmental design of the Mako reactor and the streets of Midgar have seen some design changes, but still maintain a similar unsaturated steampunk aesthetic like its original counterpart.

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Cloud and Barret traversing the innards of the Shinra Mako reactor.

There are a few other interesting aspects of the trailer, but the visuals action oriented nature of the overall game play is what caught the most attention during its PSX presentation. After the presentation, Square-Enix issued a press release announcing that Final Fantasy VII Remake will not be presented as one game. It will be released in an episodic format and there were no details explaining how this would affect the game’s release and/or development initially. This revelation has worried critics and fans alike with speculation germinating from this known distribution method.

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Cloud crouches to squeeze through a hole in the wall.

In an interview with Dengeki Online, Square-Enix’s Yoshinori Kitase (Producer) and director Tetsuya Nomura (Director) both addressed the reason for breaking  up the remake into multiple parts. They stated that the scope of the game is ambitious and is more densely packed, which cannot be done with just one release.

The idea that a remake of Final Fantasy VII would not fit into a single release was there from the very beginning. We still can’t share more information about its multiple parts, but please look forward to future announcements…

…As you can see in the trailer, we showed Sector 1 and Sector 8, but in those areas alone, I think you can see a lot of density. When you’re remaking the entirety of the original version in that quality, it’s not possible to fit it all in one release.  ~Yoshinori Kitase (Producer, Square-Enix)

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Cloud looking forward after jumping off of the train at the reactor.

If we dedicated our time to a single release, parts of it would become condensed. We’d have to cut some parts, and additional parts would come in few, so rather than remake the game as a full volume, we decided to do multiple parts.  ~Tetsuya Nomura (Director, Square-Enix)

Even with this explanation, this announcement has been met with a mixed and heavily polarizing reception. It is far too soon to tell how this will affect the final release of Final Fantasy VII Remake. Nonetheless, many are concerned that this design choice may bode ill for this highly anticipated game.

 

For those who have yet to see the latest Final Fantasy VII Remake (PS4) game play trailer, here it is:

 

Thoughts From Rivera:

So far, I think the game looks impressive with the character redesigns offering some familiarity while making aesthetic improvements. It is also really interesting to see Cloud interacting with obstacles in the environment when trying to traverse it. The thing that has me the most intrigued is the combat system because of how fast paced it appears. It is hard to tell how much of it is action and how much of it is strategic – you can only discern so much from a few seconds of combat over which you have absolutely no agency. The whole episodic nature of the game’s eventual distribution is the only aspect of Final Fantasy VII Remake that sounds troubling to me. How is this game going be handled in a physical retail capacity? Will it simply be an digital download only release? There is still a bit of ambiguity surrounding this title and I hope that it becomes more clear in the coming months.

 

 

What do you think of these new FFVII Remake details? Let us know!

Latest News From Nintendo Direct [Nov. 2015]

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Nintendo has uploaded a new installment of their news series Ninendo Direct earlier today; the first time the program has aired since the tragic passing of Satoru Iwata. During the program, there were quite a few announcements concerning releases on both the Wii U and 3DS and upcoming DLC updates.

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On the Wii U side of things, Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy Tactics will be a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Wii U (he will also be made playable in the 3DS version). The next installment in the storied The Legend of Zelda series will be coming out at some point in 2016 (this has been a known quantity for some time). A high definition remastering of LoZ: Twilight Princess has also been announced and is being prepared for release on March 4, 2016.

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Star Fox Zero’s release date has been pushed back yet again. In this past September, Shigeru Miyamoto made the decision to postpone SF Zero’s release until Q1 of 2016. Fortunately, Nintendo has given the specific date of April 22, 2016. It is alleged by Platinum Games, co-developers of SF Zero, that some time was needed to make sure that the game had “that Platinum feel.”

Mother 3 release date

Mother 3, also known as Earthbound 2 by North American fans of the series, will be seeing an official release on the Virtual Console. According to the announcement banner shown above, it will launch on December 17, 2015. Unfortunately, this release is a Japan exclusive. No plans to officially localize Mother 3 for North America or Europe have been announced.

Mother-3-Cart

Pictured here is a photo of a reproduction cartridge containing the unofficial fan translation of Mother 3 for the Game Boy Advance. So far, this has been the only way for game players in North America and Europe. Many of these ROM hack repro carts have been floating around the internet in online auctions and other unofficial game vendors for a couple of years now.

Many hold on to hope that Mother 3 will eventually get a chance to shine in the west because of the eventual release of Earthbound: Beginnings. EB: Beginnings is essentially the North American localization of the first Mother game that was finished in its software and physical prototyping stages for release, but was cancelled before it could be officially mass produced for consumption. Taking this work that had already been completed years before and making it work with an emulator wrapper is more feasible that what is required to give Mother 3 the same official treatment for the Virtual Console in the west.

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An old photograph of one Earthbound NES prototype cartridges. Roughly five of these are known to exit in the entire world.

As mentioned before, Mother 3 still has no official English translation or localization as far as the gaming world knows. With that, the game will still require the time, money and manpower necessary to translate and localize an extremely text heavy role playing game that cannot be sold at the same price point as AAA high profile titles.

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New free content will be available for the critically acclaimed third person shooter Splatoon. There are two new stages in the form of Muse D’d Alfonsino and Mahi Mahi Resort. Muse D’d Alfonsino features environmental hazards in the form of rotating objects and Mahi Mahi Resort, taking place in a pool resort, will reveal more surface area to cover in ink when a time sensitive switch forces the pools to drain. As of today, 40 new pieces of gear and equipment were made available via an update. Nintendo has state that the company will continue to support Splatoon with new DLC at least until January 2016.

Wii U BF Bundle

Nintendo Announced a special Wii U bundle for Black Friday, which includes the 32GB Deluxe model of the console. The system comes with digital copies of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Splatoon pre-installed. Though no price point has been formally announced, one of Walmart’s Black Friday ads show this bundle retailing at $250. The company is also working on a website companion to Super Mario Maker that will allow players to find custom levels of their liking more easily.

Linkle Concept Art Collage

Here is a composite image showing some of the concept art of the female version of Link dubbed Linkle or Linkelle.

On the 3DS side of the Nintendo Direct program, a few new characters will be making their debut on Hyrule Warriors: Legends. One of these new playable characters, contrary to clamber among many in the gaming community, is a female iteration of Link named Linkle. Concept art of this mystery lady was first seen in an art book for Hyrule Warriors under the section of early concepts that were rejected for the final retail release of the game. Some of these pieces depict Linkle as a Hylian warrior who wields a sword or a crossbow. However, her weapon will be the crossbow and a spinning kick attack will replace the sword spin attack.

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Pokemon Picross!

The 3DS will getting a large RPG injection with quite a few releases hitting the portable. Both Dragon Quest VII & VIII remakes will see release in North America at some point in 2016, with Dragon Quest VII coming during next summer. Remakes of the Pokemon red, blue and red versions will be available on the 3DS eShop on February 27, 2016. Other news for the franchise includes a “free-to-start” Pokemon Picross game launching sometime this December. Fire Emblem Fates will launch February 19 next year and will have three retail versions including a special edition. Lastly, The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes is seeing DLC in the form of The Den of Trials. Unlike most of the other dungeons seen in the game thus far that have only four stages, this new labyrinth has 30. This new DLC launches on December 2, 2016.

From this installment of Nintendo Direct, it looks like the company has a solid game plan for this next year and a steady transition from this slow time to the next year. Hopefully, nothing else gets pushed back and the Wii U can some more solid software and current game with great online communities like Splatoon will be given continued support in the months to come.

Fallout 4 Has Finished Brewing Up. In More Ways Than One

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Carlsburg UK Corporate Affairs has revealed a new, and somewhat obvious, way to help promote their pairing with Bethesda Softworks for the upcoming release of Fallout 4. Since the first title came out in 1998 those fans have had time to grow just a little older with the later releases in 2008 and 2010, this has led the famed developer to work with Carlsburg brewers to make a batch for them just ahead of release next month(November 2015).

The beer is described as:

“A refreshing zesty hoppy taste and a floral aroma,”

Carlsburg Corporate Affairs Director Bruce Ray has said of this pairing:

“This is something of a world-first. Adult participation in videogaming is a truly social activity, on a par with cinema and music. We’re proud to work with Bethesda to produce a beer Fallout fans can enjoy.”

Being sold in 330 ml bottles in packs of 12 featuring a new label that would make Vault-Tec Proud.

Though fans will almost assuredly like the idea, it is for relatively few of them. Only being sold in the UK and at an increased price over the pilsner Carlsburg is most famous for. At just shy of 30 Pounds Sterling(don’t have a button for the proper symbol on my US keyboard), it is substantially more.

At least this comes out the same day as some other really good news. The production has finally wrapped up on one of the most heavily anticipated titles of 2015. Which has recently seen a clip of Deathclaws dodging back and forth worryingly quickly to dodge some shells from a Gatling like cannon.

New Star Wars BattleFront Off To Strong Start With 9 Million Players

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EA clearly has quite a hit on their hands. After a short stint for open and free beta version of the upcoming game Star Wars BattleFront which has a date set for release on November 17th has already demonstrated it will almost assuredly be a big hit for Electronic Arts. EA has released the numbers of players that took part in the limited play allowed to the public for the brief time allowed; they are indeed impressive. Over 9 million people played across all the major platforms right now including the Xbox 1, PS4, and PC.

The numbers for each platform weren’t released, but this maybe even larger than CoD: Black Ops III for the PS4’s largest beta of it’s 2 years after release.

Reviews seem to be generally positive. Though EA only allowed very limited play for a smaller single player mode and a limited multiplayer players were allowed to get in some vehicles ranging from anti-infantry guns and anti vehicle weapons, to AT-ST and the behemoth AT-AT.

Star Citizen Sees A Little More Drama

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With all the drama that has surrounded the largest crowd-funded game of all time we now have even more fuel on the fire that had started several months prior. At noon on Sept 1, 2015 The Escapist published a long article detailing issues in the production and development of Star Citizen. In this quickly unfolding drama Chris Roberts allegedly didn’t respond directly to the writer, only including the Editor of the site on the responding email. In the comments section of the article Chris addressed each of the core allegations from the former employees, as well as other major concerns, which have since since been added to the article in the appropriate areas.

At the forefront of these concerns is money management and Chris Roberts personal ability to lead, or potential lack thereof. An anonymous source has claimed that of the more than $90,000,000 raised by crowdfunding Cloud Imperium Games, the developers of quite possibly the most ambitious game ever attempted, has only $8,000,000 left. To counter this point Chris stated,

“The company uses additional sources of funding such as tax incentives, marketing, and product partnerships, but we do not discuss these issues in public for obvious reasons. We always keep a healthy cash reserve and operate our business prudently based on the incoming revenue.”

Of course the money is donated with hopes of being used as a guarantee to receive Roberts’ dream to the masses who are so excited for a game of this nature and scale. However, on this front Roberts states he has made deliveries. Community content and the dogfighting module being specifically mentioned, as well as Squadron 42 being noted as in progress. While continuing on to say the first person boarding and multiple star systems were just were stretch goals.

Continuing on the ever present subject of money…

“$90 million for what he’s pitching, even with a competent leadership, you couldn’t do,” CS1 wrote. “The thing you have to remember about Chris Roberts is that, before this, he hadn’t made a game in 12 years. He has no concept of what can and can’t be done today with that amount of money, or for a game like this. Chris Roberts hadn’t made a game in 12 years, and he was actively ignoring the input of people who have been in and a part of the industry that entire time.”

Chris Roberts has quite a response to this point. However he does show a bit of emotion and perhaps a momentary lapse of professionalism. Considering this may be what Chris perceives as his lifes’ work, it is hard to fault him for showing some emotion after already doing so much work. However in such an incredibly fast paced industry 12 years is quite a hiatus.

Now we move on to other claims made by supposed-ex-employees saying that a project of this scale can’t be done with $90 Million. Just as with each point of the article Chris has a heavy response:

“How do you or they know this? Which employees said this and what makes them qualified to make that judgement? I know it’s what Derek Smart loves to say but he couldn’t make a good game with $200m so I don’t think his opinion matters. Outside of that, no employee beyond me and a few other key people who are leading Star Citizen would have the appropriate information and overview to make any judgement about the cost of the total project. Secondly, the company uses additional sources of funding such as tax incentives, marketing and product partnerships, but we do not discuss these issues in public for obvious reasons. We always keep a healthy cash reserve and operate our business prudently based on the incoming revenue. It should tell you something that we are actually increasing our global headcount not decreasing it.”

This also plays into the point that was brought up over his ambitiousness that the game is striving for. On a previously unimagined scale. Going from on-foot exploring or socializing to multiple player-characters boarding a ship, travelling for thousands even millions of kilometers(1km=~0.62 miles), to do an EVA mission to explore or even to assault an enemy held area; then head back for home and enjoy a few drinks with friends back at home and tell tales of heroism and loss.

“I realized it was affecting my health, my home life. I needed to get out. So I left. I had no job lined up. I just had to get out. I looked at my situation, I had enough in savings, so I left. I couldn’t take it. It was by far the most toxic environment I have ever worked in. No one had clear direction about how to do their jobs well. No one was empowered to do their jobs well. Everything was second guessed, and the default reaction to everything was blame and yelling and emails with all capital letters and curse words.”

This is were there are axes to really grind, it seems. With multiple ex-employees coming forward in anonymity making these claims, it does hold a bit more water than just one or just writing about the issue without an insider perspective.

In a segment immediately following this there’s is more heavy profanity that is claimed to have been used by one party or another. More finger pointing. He said, she said and so on. With the article be so large and so high profile now, we recommend reading for yourself.

Since the publishing of this article even more drama has unfolded. Chris Roberts has demanded a published apology for his wife. Roberts is also claiming that The Escapist is working with competitors, such as Derek Roberts who has attempted something similar in the past and did not succeed; even saying he will file a lawsuit at the end of the day today (Oct. 5, 2015) if he doesn’t receive an acceptable apology and The Escapist doesn’t comply to his demands.

 

 

Thoughts From VanDyke:

From some personalities I personally follow who have contributed to the campaign and do some publicity for the game, I think this may be a death blow win or lose for Chris Roberts. The financial impact on a company even with this kind of backing and support, which was already waning to some extent, this can be truly devastating. A modern business tactic that has been used to remove competitors and those who have lawsuits against them (tobacco companies waiting for very ill customers that seek compensation for damages to pass away, for instance) to simply fold under the high legal costs that accumulate over time and simply go away.

Oculus Rift. Higher Price, Even Higher Expectations

In an article today on GameSpot Palmer Luckey, the creator of what is to be the first mass market VR Gaming Headset on the market, stated that the price point of the Oculus Rift will be north of $350. He makes a clear point to insist this is having to do with quality for the consumers who will drop the cash needed for the device, as well as making sure the first VR will deliver on what gamers are going to be expecting. The 22 year old creator has said multiple times he wants the headset “to be the best it can possibly be – even if this means it comes at a premium price tag.”

“We’re roughly in that ballpark, but it’s going to cost more than that, and the reason for that is that we’ve added a lot of technology to this thing beyond what existed in the DK1 and DK2 days.”

oculus rift vr headset

This relatively small device with it’s clean lines and minimalist outward design really is making huge and vibrant splashes all over the world. Of course it will have plenty of competition, Steam Vive being just one of them.

Another big contribution factor is of course the small sized market for such a device. As with any new technology like this, the cost of production of the very niche parts and hardware are factors for the higher price. Even with these facts taken into consideration Luckey is still very confident and optimistic about the future of VR gaming. Saying:

“I would say I think people are going to be happy with what they get for the price because I really do think it’s going to be that best VR headset you can buy,”

Oculus Rift is slated for launch before April of 2016 with PlayStation VR set for July the same year. HTC and Valve’s offering was set to be released Holiday 2015, but for mainstream consumers this may really be Q1 of 2016.

Star Fox Zero Delayed Until Early 2016

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Shigeru Miyamoto, now Creative Fellow of Nintendo, regretfully announced that the next installment installment in the Star Fox franchise will no longer be launching during holiday season of this year [2015]. He made a statement via the official Facebook page of Nintendo that further details the reasons for this delay, which allegedly have to do with polishing the core game play mechanics and the dual-screen control agency among other aspects.

I made a big decision last week.

We have been developing Star Fox Zero for Wii U with the aim of releasing it this year. Although we felt that the development had been progressing well, we now believe that we will need a little more time to work on areas such as the unprecedented discovery that we want players to experience in the game by using two screens, and further polishing the level designs and perfecting the tone of the cut scenes. While we have already reached the stage where it would be technically possible to release the title in time for the year-end holiday season, we want to polish the game a bit more so that players will be able to more smoothly grasp the new style of play that we are proposing.

To the people looking forward to the launch of the game this holiday season, I am very sorry.

Star Fox Zero is going to bring new game play and experiences that take it far beyond the framework established by Star Fox 64. All the members of the development team are doing our best so that the final product will not betray your expectations. And the game will not be delayed for a very long time – we’re aiming to launch the game in Q1 2016. Please stay tuned for further announcements.  ~Shigeru Miyamoto (Creative Fellow, Nintendo of Japan)

Star Fox Zero was originally set to launch on November 20 in time for the holiday season. This was further solidified during the Nintendo Digital Event during this past Electronic Entertainment Expo [E3 2015]. Fox McCloud’s upcoming outing is now planned to release during the first fiscal quarter [Q1] of next year.

Id Software Assisted With Fallout 4’s Shooting Mechanics

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It is alleged that Id Software, developers of the Doom and Quake series of games, has lent its assistance to Bethesda Game Studios in an effort to improve the ranged combat game play of Fallout 4. This is not so surprising seeing that Id and Bethesda both fall under the parent company umbrella of Zenimax Media. Director Todd Howard had commented earlier in the year, during E3 2015, on how the first-person shooter combat in the Fallout franchise post Fallout 2 have come a long way.

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Todd Howard, the Game Director of Bethesda Game Studios.

“If you were to pick it up and play [Fallout 4], it does feel like a modern shooter,” he said. “I won’t say anything bad about Fallout 3, but we wanted to not make any excuses for how the action felt in a role-playing game. We feel we can layer all of the role-playing and stat systems on top of that…

…So the guns feel great. We have aim down sights, you can play in first and third-person, and then we have the V.A.T.S system…

…Since id Software is part of our company, the first thing we did was call them. [We said] ‘alright, we’re going to do this from scratch, give us some tips…’  ~Todd Howard (Game Director, Bethesda Game Studios)

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This still shows the main protagonist using the V.A.T.S. targeting system that will be present alongside the retooled gun based game play mechanics. (credit to Gamespot.com)

Fallout 4 is still slated for release on November 10 of this year for the PC, Playstation 4 and Xbox One. This will proceed extra content that will roll out in the following year in via a $30 DLC pass. Aside from the added content, Fallout 4 will have regular updates on top of supporting mods across all platforms.

Metal Gear Solid: V The Phantom Game?

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Among this years’ hot releases is Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, but already this latest iteration has caused some upheaval for some gamers. For those whose chosen steed in the PC they received a nasty surprise once they got home with the title.

From Reddit to Twitter to numerous other news publications come reports that the game itself is not on the physical disc. After inserting the disc, buyers noticed this issue quite quickly. Only seeing a Steam installer, with it large gaming retailer that supplies the PC market and is all digital, taking up the space of a small photo gallery, around 8.78 MB has had infuriating effects. For those who have slow connection speed or just want a physical copy will still need to download the whole game from the Steam Store. With a 30GB game and a slow internet connection some players and long time fans may have to instill themselves with yet more patience as they are forced to wait.

While games sales are about 3 million on the 6th of this month (September 2016), Konami still has yet to announce sales numbers officially which doesn’t seem to be boding well for Hideo’s newest development venture. A large bulk of sales for games being right there after release and then dwindle until the next release. These signs aren’t what so many fans want to see. Konami has released the $80 million budget in the Nikkei Report, (original in Japanese), With the cherry on top being an enormous marketing budget that can exceed the cost of development for some games. This is mean that just for Hideo and Konami to break even they may need to sell as many as 5-6 million copies total.

Even the widely positive reviews and large marketing campaign can only do so much. So many games like MGS:V now have taken a very risk-averse approach to game making. With such large budgets and other games failing and forcing the closing of studios it’s no real wonder why those at the top of this business are becoming so weary and dropping their less successful titles.

Destiny Original Narrative Heavily Altered Before Release

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Recently, various news sources have reported that the lawsuit filed by Marty O’Donnell (previously the composer of Bungie) against Bungie Inc. and Harold Ryan of the same company was ruled in O’Donnell’s favor. The result is a settlement that pertains to profit-sharing with him for his work done on the Destiny franchise thus far. This legal battle began sometime during April, 2014. The lawsuit was filed by the ex-composer in retaliation for being fired “without cause.”

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Marty O’Donnell, previously the composer for Bungie, had worked on many on the studio’s titles such as the Marathon, Myth and Halo series of games.

While this court ruling is big news in the world of gaming, newly released court documents pertaining to this case has shed more light on O’Donnell’s now soured relationship with Bungie and Destiny’s sordid development. According to him, the events leading up to his untimely exodus was a product of him trying to prevent Destiny publisher Activision from encroaching on the Bungie team creatively. This has been theorized by many members of the video game community and press, but these documents go further to state the reasons as to why Destiny was not released during September of 2013 as originally intended by all parties involved.

bingie court doc

The following is a snippet from the court document finalizing the settlement for Marty O’Donnell. This snippet is of subsection 10 of section 2.

The tenth subsection of the second section clearly states that the original plan for the development of Destiny was to release it during Q4 of 2013, but significant changes made to the title’s narrative rendered this launch date unfeasible to meet. The release date was internally changed to March of 2014. The date was once again pushed back to September of 2014. Though O’Donnell allegedly went on holiday during autumn, this was not a factor in the two date changes.

This evidence raises many questions concerning the final implementation of the game’s story and how much of it was originally slated to be in the final incarnation of Destiny. With its eventual release, many have criticized the first-person shooter for not having a well wrought or conveyed story, which is an area of game development that Bungie has achieved with high  aptitude in titles past. The game was heavily promoted with the promise of delivery a deep, epic narrative that would rival the likes of Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and other such storied sagas. In the final game the lore was restricted to text based conveyance through the Grimoire Cards that are only available on a website for the game. Hopefully, these issues will be rectified for the new chapter in Destiny called The Taken King for the sake of gamers who have already invest time in money into the game.

 

 

What do you think of this new revelation? Let us know!