The coronavirus is going to be with us for a long time. That’s something a lot of us have come to terms with, especially those that have been tracking the ups and downs of the games industry. It doesn’t matter if you’re a massive studio or a tiny indie team, delays are to be expected. Fans of The Long Dark have received a bit of news today regarding Episode Four. Despite Hinterland Studio’s best efforts, it won’t be able to make its December 2020 release window.
Episode Four of The Long Dark delayed
In a developer diary posted on August 20, 2020, Game Director Raphael van Lierop gave The Long Dark players an update on Episode Four. In this post, Raphael outlined the difficulties of developing a game remotely, as well as the team’s decision behind delaying the release of Episode Four.
Pretty recently we came to the conclusion that we don’t feel good about releasing Episode Four this year. We had originally hoped to have it ready for launch in December, but with everything that’s been going on, it’s just been tough to work very optimally.
Raphael goes on to state that, much like the rest of us, working during a pandemic has been challenging for the team. Though we all have lofty goals of getting even more done, working from home for months on end poses its own unique challenges. Of course, a big part of game design is being able to look over someone’s shoulder and discuss something on a screen, or meet together and brainstorm. Zoom is good, but it’s not that good.
What’s important to note here is Raphael’s dedication to the health and wellbeing of the team at Hinterland. While it sounds like it would be possible to release the update this year, it would compromise a fundamental creed of the company, which Raphael explains:
Everyone is still focused on the game, and we’re making progress every day, but I just don’t feel good about keeping the team locked to a December release because we don’t crunch at Hinterland and the only way to hit December is if we compromise on quality or scope.
To that end, Episode Four won’t be out this year. However, Raphael does note that there will be more updates in the coming months, with info on planned activities for the rest of this year, and the next.
For now, though, there’s plenty to enjoy in The Long Dark, including a fully functioning survival mode with more than 10 maps. Plus, the Fearless Navigator update still has plenty of new features and mechanics for players to enjoy.
Sam Chandler posted a new article, The Long Dark dev diary gives an update on Episode Four
Update: it's still super dark.