Well, this is a disappointment. One year after bringing Defiant Studios onto the project, publisher CI Games have booted them from working on the title.
Initially, the problems started with the announcement in June 2017 that CI Games wouldn’t try to compete at a “AAA” level, as the push to do so had negatively impacted the quality of Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 which was poorly received. Instead, they would aim to reduce their scope and goals, which didn’t sound all that bad. But then came the news in July 2017 that Tomasz Gop, the main driving force behind Lords of the Fallen, had been let go. Mr Gop claimed that he “ was let go because of a reduction in the team, in scope, in the budget, and in business approach“. Technically Mr Gop was let go from CI Games back in 2015 and he was still technically considered an employee, though he was encouraged to look for opportunities elsewhere. Additionally, original contributing developer Deck13 Interactive was not brought back for the sequel’s development due to confidential reasons between both companies.
At this point, things started looking up for the project. Lords of the Fallen 2 was assigned a new developer in 2018, a relatively unknown studio called Defiant Studios. Formed by former Avalanche New York staff and best known for co-development work on games such as Just Cause 3 and L.A. Noire, they took the chance to have a crack at the now thriving “souls-like” genre ruled by FromSoftware. But then it was announced that the team would be scrapping any and all design work created by Tomasz Gop, and would be starting from scratch. The work needed to produce the game was great, though Defiant were confident they could deliver a quality title for the publisher.
And so here we are now in 2019, with CI Games announcing on the 15th May that Defiant Studios were being let go from the project. The justification for this is that the “vertical slice” provided by Defiant Studios was not to the quality expected by CI Games. A “vertical slice” is a proof of concept for stakeholders, often to show that there should be enough confidence to fund the rest of a project. For their part, Defiant Studios reject the statement released by CI Games, claiming that their work was of a high standard and was more than quality enough. They refused to go into more detail about their release from the project due to wanting to honour their confidentiality obligations. CI Games have pledged to continue work on the game internally, and to complete the game with outsourced help. That could be an issue though since they fired their internal development team after the poor performance of Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3. That said, a new internal team was created as production began for Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts so it is likely that team will be saddled with both projects. Can CI Games handle both games and produce them to their seemingly high standard? Only time will tell.
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