The singleplayer and cooperative story campaign planned for Insurgency: Sandstorm, the sequel to 2014's mod-turned-standalone Insurgency, might not actually happen. Developers New World Interactive announced last night that the campaign is "cancelled for release" so they can focus on the multiplayer that the series is known for, then the story "will be considered again at a later date." Which sounds like we probably won't get to play it. I'm sorry to hear that, as Insurgency's serious multiplayer action didn't click with me but I was interested in a road trip with two female Iraqi fighters and two foreign fellas. Though the fact that I didn't dig Insurgency's core multiplayer means I'm not really part of their audience so sure, I get it.
Sandstorm's new lead game designer, Michael Tsarouhas, explained the decision in yesterday's announcement:
"This is due to its high production requirements and our commitment to deliver to our fans in 2018. The story was a very exciting and new opportunity for us as a team, but we felt we had to make a choice. At this moment it's more important to us that we deliver a full multiplayer and coop experience that improves on Insurgency; one that is true to our style and what we feel we do best. We know to some of you this decision may be unexpected, and we’re sad to share this news, but this was a shift our team felt we needed to make."
That is a shame but I understand campaigns are expensive to make and difficult to make will, and require different skills to making good multiplayer. But perhaps Sandstorm will do well enough to pick the idea back up.
The campaign was to be a road trip starring two Iraqi women whose fight against insurgents took a detour on a personal mission. They'd be joined by an American combat veteran and a French greenhorn, going deep in hostile territory without military backup. It sounded a tricky story to do well, dealing with a lot of sensitive issues, but I was curious. Here's the cinematic trailer they showed last year:
In other Sandstorm changes, New World Interactive are reworking the setting a little, stepping back from the real world. Tsarouhas said:
"Though we initially wanted to portray particular contemporary real world conflicts, we actually found this approach restrictive of our design and, admittedly, sensitive. Instead, our conflict is fictionalized, but draws inspiration from various modern real world insurgencies. This is in regards to environment, gameplay, characters, vehicles, equipment, weapons, etc. It's inspiration that is mostly aesthetic and not tied down by any one region. Having this approach allows us to focus our resources on creating a fun and atmospheric hardcore multiplayer experience. It also provides robust options for character customization, post-release level content, community modding, and other aspects."
And Sandstorm's creative director, Andrew Spearin, has left the studio - though I'd be wary of reading too much into that. All change.
Sandstorm is due to launch some time this year.