Remedy Entertainment still has a trick up its sleeve.
The Quantum Break developer has been intentionally vague about its plans as of late, teasing two new projects and a new approach to developing games. It's pushing for faster development cycles and juggling multiple teams for its growing studio. It's pursuing new opportunities with unexpected partners; its work on the upcoming Crossfire 2 — a sequel to one of Asia's most popular shooters — is proof of that.
Crossfire 2's reveal may have been a shock to fans, but that's exactly the kind of reaction head of communications Thomas Puha anticipated. During a recent interview with Polygon, Puha said that the opportunity with Korea-based Smilegate "presented itself. It was something that fit into our schedules." Puha declined to say how long the project has been in progress, but Remedy's jump into a two-team format has been years in the making.
"It's been a longtime strategy to make sure that we can work on a couple of separate things," he said.
Not just separate, but different. Part of the challenge of taking on a project like Crossfire 2 is finding out if Remedy is up to the challenge of making a first-person shooter; the studio is working on the game's story mode. The game is still "aways down the line," but Puha said it carries the studio's trademark quirky stories with deep characters.
"it's not a run-of-the-mill grunt or anything like that."
"That's what Smilegate wanted from us, and that's what we're going to deliver so it will have that Remedy feel," he said.
"That's what Remedy is: a storytelling studio. If I look at the first-person shooter genre now, especially in AAA space, we do think that there is definitely room to innovate and tell interesting stories. I mean, FPS is a very popular genre. You have Firewatch and Vanishing of Ethan Carter, which basically is an FPS but very, very different from like a military shooter, but that's the challenge: to be able to tell a really good story with interesting characters in that kind of an action setting."
When asked if the game will follow a military storyline, as so many shooters tend to do, Puha declined to answer directly.
"A lot of time is spent coming up with something interesting so it's not a run-of-the-mill grunt or anything like that," he said.
More news on Crossfire 2 is still awhile off; Puha estimates sometime next year at the soonest. The same secrecy is applied to the developer's yet-to-be-announced project — the trick up its sleeve — as well. Remedy is working on a prototype for this original new IP and shopping it around to publishers. When asked if Remedy plans to do more work with Microsoft on this title, Puha said it's still "way, way too early."
"It's a very, very good prototype, I'll put it that way," he said. "It has to sell the idea of the game very well. But Remedy has a very unique way of doing that. I'm not going to go into our sales process or how we sort of pitch, but we're taking our time with it and going to make sure it's right."
"there's not really a lot of space for big budget, linear story-driven games."
Part of that means leaning into the shorter dev cycle Remedy has been keen to talk about as of late; part of it means paying more attention to how people are playing video games these days. That includes games that are more "service-based," Puha said. Whether that means DLC or free updates is still to be decided.
"The days of making a game that you sort of complete and put it on the shelf are pretty limited," he said.
"If you look at the market now there's not really a lot of space for big budget, linear story-driven games. You have to build something that can last a little bit longer and have people keep coming back to it, and we need to change as well ... We respect everybody that is able to ship a game every couple years of a really, really high quality."
There is one question that Puha can answer, and with PlayStation 4 Neo and Project Scorpio still on the way, it's one that comes up frequently: virtual reality. This year's E3 was full of VR announcements, from Batman and Star Wars to Final Fantasy and Resident Evil. This is one trend that Remedy won't be hopping on anytime soon.
"We're not doing anything with VR, but we have all the latest like Oculus and Vive stuff in the office and there are a lot of VR fans at Remedy for sure," Puha said. "There are quite a lot of people that are keen, but we just don't have the bandwidth to do anything and the reality I think is that there's just no business there right now. It would be fun to be there, especially from a storytelling point of view. VR is very interesting, but you also need a healthy market to exist and it's just not there."
That doesn't mean Remedy hasn't been approached to work on VR, however.
"It's quite easy to get a lot of money for a VR project, but it's not something that's in the cards for us right now," Puha said. "There's been approach, of course, and we've done some research, but we just don't have the resources right now ... we'll take a look and see how things go, but it's definitely cool tech for sure."