Monday, December 4, 2023

The Wolf Among Us 2 Delayed Out of 2023 to Avoid Crunch and Burnout, Telltale Confirms

The Wolf Among Us 2 has been delayed out of 2023, developer Telltale confirmed in a tweet. In a related interview with IGN, CEO Jamie Ottilie attributed the delay to an effort in avoiding burnout and crunch. Furthermore, the studio wants to avoid releasing an unfinished game as it shifts development from Unreal Engine 4 to Unreal Engine 5. The sequel to the beloved episodic narrative based on Vertigo’s Fables series of graphic novels was announced back at The Game Awards 2019. However, the COVID-19 pandemic raised a bunch of challenges for the newly formed company.

For the uninitiated, the original Telltale Games filed for bankruptcy in 2018, leading to massive layoffs and cancellation of any planned releases — one of them being The Wolf Among Us 2. However, in 2019, LCG Entertainment acquired Telltale’s assets and re-launched the company, functioning under some industry veterans and previous developers who worked on acclaimed titles such as The Walking Dead and Batman: The Telltale Series. But even as the studio announced its highly-anticipated project, the development team was in its infancy, needing roughly two years for it to be fully staffed. In the interview, Ottilie admitted that announcing the title in 2019 seemed like the right choice, as it would help them secure funding and support. For the record, that brief teaser was made entirely from scratch. But looking back at the decision, he regrets it, as the pandemic slowed down development and hiring.

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Moreover, Telltale recently made the decision to switch over to Unreal Engine 5. Ottilie stated that the developers and artists, who had been working on Unreal Engine 4 for years, felt that the newer features “are worth the effort.” Of course, this means reworking a good chunk of the game, leaving the team with two options — either release an unfinished game or force crunch onto its staff. Ottilie opted for neither, and instead, pushed the game out of the 2023 release window.

“I’ve done [crunch], and I don’t want to do it again, and it’s not fair to ask it,” Ottilie said in the interview. “You can’t plan a business around it. So yeah, part of it is about maintaining a healthy work culture. We don’t want to burn out our good people. It has been incredibly difficult to recruit the last two years between COVID and the labour markets and the growth in the games industry.” The Wolf Among Us 2 is being developed with assistance from AdHoc Studio, which consists of former Telltale Games’ employees.

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As a prequel to the Fables graphic novels, The Wolf Among Us 2 is set six months after the events of the first game, with protagonist Bigby Wolf now leading an investigation into a new mystery — presumably involving Tin-Man and Scarecrow from ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ The new chapter is set in a wintry New York cast in snow, with a new administration in motion, spearheaded by Snow White. Last year, the developers released a trailer, confirming that The Wolf Among Us 2 will intertwine the world and events of the Mundies (humans) and Fables (fairy tale characters).

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Similar to past Telltale Games entries, this game will be released in an episodic format (5 episodes), but will only begin rolling out once they’re all ready. This prevents issues seen with the older Telltale regime, where players had to wait for months — until the development finished — to gain access to each new episode. Through this new development format, however, all episodes should drop at a steady pace. With all that said, the studio still has The Expanse: A Telltale Series slated for release this year — created in collaboration with Nine Deck Games.

The Wolf Among Us 2 will now release sometime in 2024.

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