Game cancellations are always a difficult pill to swallow for developers and fans alike, but there are some that just seem to stick around in the minds of gamers years after they were consigned to dust. Concept art from a cancelled Final Fantasy 12 spin-off circulated nearly a decade after the original game was released and still managed to strike a chord with viewers, and some cancelled games, like the one Obsidian was reportedly developing as an exclusive for Xbox One in 2011, become mythologized by their absence.
Now, however, Obsidian has finally shed some light on its cancelled project, which was tentatively called Stormlands. In an in-depth look at the game and the process that went into it being shut down, Eurogamer details the ways in which Obsidian – then fresh off the release of the incredibly successful Fallout: New Vegas – originally pitched the title to Microsoft. Obsidian co-owner and CEO Feargus Urquhart explains:
“We were given a proposal, the million-man raid. Conceptually what came from Microsoft was this idea: imagine you’re playing The Witcher, maybe with a friend. What happens if at points in time a giant creature pops up that you can see in the distance but it’s not just popping up while you’re playing, it’s popping up for everybody who’s playing. You all rush this creature and there’s this haze around it, and as you’re all rushing through the haze the game is matchmaking you into 40-man raids who are going to fight the creature.”
Urquhart also stated that the game would have processed people’s individual fight footage into personalized recaps of their contribution to the fight, not unlike a much more in-depth version of the Overwatch play of the game system. Stormlands sounds ambitious even now in 2017 – in 2011, it would have been unlike anything gamers had ever seen before.
Unfortunately, however, the price of the ambition surrounding Stormlands was simply too high. With Microsoft pushing harder and harder for more unrealistic features and Obsidian tasked with attempting to realize them while knowing it wasn’t possible, a disconnect emerged between the two companies that eventually led to Microsoft cancelling the project in 2012.
Those who wish they’d been able to try Stormlands can actually take solace in the fact that, if they play Obsidian’s library, they probably already have. Obsidian salvaged Stormlands into a game called Fallen, then transformed Fallen into Tyranny, which would release in 2016. While it sounds like a tragedy that Stormlands was never completed, at the very least, it produced a memorable development story alongside one of the more interesting RPG titles of the past few years in Tyranny.