Game development can a fickle and unpredictable business. Delays and even cancellations are things that all of us are quite used to even at the best of times- but this past year has been more rough than anyone could have guessed. The COVID pandemic has thrown the world for a loop, and that, of course, includes the games industry as well. With developers having to work from home and various development pipelines having to operate in entirely new ways, production schedules of games are, of course, getting affected, which, in turn, is leading to delays.
Already, there have been more than a few delays for upcoming releases, and while some have only been for a few weeks and months at a time, others have been much more severe in nature. And really, it’d be naive to expect that that will be stopping anytime soon- the upcoming months are likely going to be marked by several more delays, whether that’s on an internal level for games that were intended to launch sometime soon but hadn’t yet been given release dates, or for games whose launch dates were set in stone and will be receiving public delays.
In this feature, we’re going to take a look not only at five major games that were due out in 2021 that have already been delayed to 2022, but also at five more big upcoming releases that could possibly be hit with delays as well. These are purely speculative, and we’re not saying that these will definitely get delayed- but there’s definitely a chance that that happens. Also keep in mind that we’ll only be talking about games that have (or had) officially been given 2021 launch windows by their developers or publishers.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: GOLLUM
Deadalic Entertainment announced The Lord of the Rings: Gollum back in 2019, and at the time, the game was given a 2021 launch window. As a stealth-action game that will put you in the shoes of Smeagol a.k.a. Gollum (not that he wears shoes), this is a game that we’ve been curious about for some time now. In January, however, Deadalic confirmed that the game was being delayed, pushed back into 2022, with no specific timeframe given for when we can expect it next year. The developer didn’t give a particular reason for the delay- perhaps it was because of COVID, perhaps it was simply because the game needed more time to meet the level of quality that the developers are aiming for, or perhaps it was both. Either way, we’re going to have to wait a while longer to get our hands on this one.
GRAN TURISMO 7
In spite of a disappointing launch, Polyphony Digital managed to turn things around for Gran Turismo Sport, and in its current state, it is a legitimately great racing sim. Even so, the wait for a traditional, numbered Gran Turismo sequel has been a long one. GT7 was announced last year, promising an experience that would take cues from the classic GT titles, and was due out in 2021. Recently, however, it was confirmed that the game had been delayed into 2022, with Sony explicitly confirming that the delay had been caused by “COVID-related production challenges.” “With the ongoing pandemic, it’s a dynamic and changing situation and some critical aspects of game production have been slowed over the past several months,” the publisher explained.
Announced last year after several years of leaks, Hogwarts Legacy was scheduled for a 2021 launch, and given how long it had seemingly been in development, it seemed a pretty safe bet that the game would hit its intended launch date. Barely a few days into 2021 however, publisher Warner Bros’ publishing label Portkey Games announced that the game was being pushed back into 2022. Based on the delay announcement, the developer is simply taking additional time for development rather than coping from any production hurdles or development issues, with the publisher stating at the time, “Creating the best possible experience for all of the Wizarding World and gaming fans is paramount to us so we are giving the game the time it needs.”
DESTINY 2: WITCH QUEEN
Bungie have made it abundantly clear over the last couple of years that they have no immediate plans to release a third Destiny game, and that Destiny 2 is going to stick around for several more years. With four expansions so far in Curse of Osiris, Warmind, Forsaken, and Beyond Light, the game’s already received plenty of post-launch content, but plenty more’s still to come. Previously, Bungie had planned on releasing the next expansion, Witch Queen, in 2021, to be followed by Lightfall later on. Recently, however, Bungie announced that Witch Queen would now be releasing in early 2022, with Lightfall coming in 2023. And the reason for the delay? Well, COVID has, of course, impacted the speed of development, but Bungie is also working on several other in-game features (including the likes of transmog and cross-play and refining PvP), while their plans have also expanded to add another major expansion following Lightfall. Put together, all of this means the developer is going to need additional time to put out the looter shooter’s next major content drop.
VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE – BLOODLINES 2
It’s fair to say that even if we weren’t in the midst of a pandemic, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 still very likely would have been hit with delays. The RPG’s gone through a torturous development cycle. Originally due out in Q1 2020, publisher Paradox Interactive and then-developer Hardsuit Labs announced in late 2019 that the game’s launch had been pushed back to late 2020. Then in August of 2020, the game was delayed a second time, this time into 2021, with the developer saying it needed more time to realize its ambitions for the awaited RPG. Shortly afterward, Bloodlines 2’s turbulent development hit another snag, with with the project’s lead narrative designer and creative director departing from Hardsuit Labs. In late 2020, things started looking even more dire, with Paradox confirming that the game wouldn’t launch until at least the second half of 2021. Finally, a couple of weeks ago, it was confirmed that Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 had been delayed indefinitely, with Hardsuit Labs being taken off the project and Paradox beginning the search for a new developer for the RPG. No new release date has yet been announced, but it’s pretty clear at this stage that it’s going to be a while before we hear about this game again.
COULD BE DELAYED:
WB Games Montreal teased the hell out of their Court of Owls Batman game, and finally, after long and torturous years of anticipation, they announced it last year- only, it’s not even a Batman game. Even so Gotham Knights looks promising, and if things go according to plan, it’ll be out some time this year. Here’s the thing though- following its announcement, WB Games Montreal and Warner Bros have both been oddly silent about the game. They do tease out new details every now and then, and it’s not like they’ve forgotten that it exists, but it’s been months since we even saw a new trailer or any new footage whatsoever. That’s not damning evidence, sure, and we’re still only in early 2021 yet- but if Warner Bros doesn’t share a proper new update on the game in the coming few months, it’ll be hard to see how the game could possibly hit its intended launch window.
DYING LIGHT 2
Oh man. What an absolute mess this one has been. First announced at E3 2018, Techland announced a year later that Dying Light 2 would launch in Spring 2020. After several months of silence, they announced in January of 2020 that the game had been delayed indefinitely– and things have only gone from bad to worse since then. Where do we even begin? A couple of months ago, the game’s writer and art director left Techland after years at the studio. Multiple reports over the last year have also shed light on the shockingly bad management and troubled development Dying Light 2 has been going through at Techland. All the way back in May last year, Techland said the game was in the final stretch of development. In December, they said details on the game would be shared soon, while in January, they doubled down on that statement. But their silence on the game hasn’t been broken, even as reports about its troubled development have continued to flood in. It’s possible that Dying Light 2 does somehow end up releasing before the year is out, but at this stage, it’s looking very unlikely.
SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI 5
It’s been well over three years since Shin Megami Tensei 5 was first announced, and in all that time, all we’ve seen of the game is two very brief trailers. One came when the game was announced, and then, after a prolonged period of complete radio silence, the second one came when Atlus announced halfway through 2020 that Shin Megami Tensei 5 would finally be launching for the Nintendo Switch in 2021. So why exactly do we believe that the game might get delayed again? Well, for the pure and simple fact that even though it’s supposedly due out this year, we’ve seen or heard nothing about it from Atlus since they last spoke about it in July. It’s quite likely (or at least we hope it is) that SMT 5 is being planned as a late 2020 game, but given Atlus’ propensity to delay its games, and Shin Megami Tensei 5’s own drawn-out development cycle, we can’t say with complete surety that the RPG won’t be delayed yet again.
We’ve known about GhostWire: Tokyo’s existence for almost two years at this point, and yet we’ve hardly seen anything from the game. A cryptic yet ambiguous cinematic reveal trailer at E3 2019, followed by our first proper look at gameplay last year at Sony’s PS5 reveal event. And after that? Nothing. Shinji Mikami has said that this is the longest development cycle he has ever been involved in throughout his long career, and it’s hard to shake the feeling that it’s probably going to stretch on a little longer. Currently, Bethesda has given a vague 2021 launch window for Tango Gameworks’ action-adventure title, but given how little we’ve seen of the game and how little its developer and publisher have even talked about it, we can’t help but feel like that that target might be little more than a pipe dream. There’s still a long way to go in 2021, and it’s entirely possible that Bethesda confirms a firm release date for GhostWire: Tokyo at E3 in June. We sure hope that’s the case, but we wouldn’t be surprised if the game gets pushed back to next year.
GOD OF WAR: RAGNAROK
Honestly, this was never going to launch in 2021. Even when Sony first announced God of War: Ragnarok for the PS5 with a 2021 launch window back in June of last year, there was little doubt in our minds that the game almost definitely wouldn’t hit its supposed launch window. You don’t announce a game with a simple logo reveal, without even officially confirming its official name, then say that it’s going to launch within eighteen months, and then expect people to believe it. The previous game launched in April 2018, and even if we assume that SIE Santa Monica Studio immediately got to work on its sequel in full force, a 2021 launch – even a late 2021 launch – would have been pretty unrealistic even under the best circumstances- and thanks to COVID, no studio is operating under anything close to the best circumstances).
On top of all of that, recently, PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan spoke about the PS5’s first party output for this year. He talked about the upcoming Returnal and Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, he suggested that Horizon Forbidden West was on track to release this year, he confirmed that Gran Turismo 7 had been delayed… and yet he made no mention of God of War: Ragnarok. If the game truly was on the docket for this year, there was no way Sony would be this quiet about it. In fact, just recently, when asked about when it would launch, even director Cory Barlog simply fired off the good old “it’ll launch when it’s ready” response. And there’s almost no way that it’ll be ready anytime this year.
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