Remedy Entertainment, the studio behind October’s critically acclaimed survival horror game Alan Wake 2, revealed that it is reworking what was previously a free-to-play multiplayer game into a premium cooperative title.
While Remedy made a name for itself with trippy, narrative-focused single-player franchises like Max Payne, Alan Wake, and Control, a multiplayer project code-named Vanguard has been in the works at the Finnish studio since at least 2018. In 2021, Remedy announced that it partnered with Tencent to make and distribute the game, which was described as “a free-to-play, co-operative PvE shooter that combines Remedy’s narrative expertise and action gameplay into an immersive multiplayer experience.” As recently as a financial report last month, Remedy said that Vanguard was still in the “proof-of-concept stage” and that it was working with Tencent on “defining the next stages of the project.”
Well, that next stage appears to be pivoting the game from a free-to-play title into a premium release, rebooting the project and changing the code name from Vanguard to Kestrel in the process. “Due to uncertainties in creating a successful game to the rapidly changing free-to-play market and associated risks, the parties have discussed a new direction for the game project, which will be given the new code name, ‘Kestrel.'” Remedy explained in a press release. “The reboot comes as the project has reached the end of its proof-of-concept phase, and after Remedy and Tencent had time to evaluate the project’s status and its next steps.”
As a result of this decision, Remedy says that Kestrel is returning to the concept phase of development with a main goal now being to create “a premium game with a strong cooperative multiplayer component.” Remedy says this new direction for Kestrel will still use some of the work already done on Vanguard and will “lean more into Remedy’s core strengths.” That last point hits home as we’ve seen several lauded single-player developers struggle to make a compelling multiplayer experience in recent years.
Titles like BioWare’s Anthem and Arkane Studios’ Redfall come to mind, while a The Last of Us multiplayer game is reportedly having a tough development cycle at Naughty Dog. It appears that Alan Wake 2 has emboldened Remedy to lean into its strengths with this experimental multiplayer game more than it was before, and we can only hope that’s for the better.
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