Once upon a time, Arkane Studio had plans for an asymmetrical multiplayer game called The Crossing. It was canceled. However, when Arkane was deciding what to do after Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, elements of The Crossing would find their way to what was supposed to be a side project: A little to pass the time called Deathloop. Recently, Arkane co-founder and former lead Raphaël Colantonio spoke to what happened with The Crossing, how the team rose from a bad situation to make Dishonored, and how elements of The Crossing would eventually inspire the success of Deathloop.
Colantonio shared details of this story in a recent interview with Rock Paper Shotgun. The Crossing was a project that started out in a time before Arkane had really made its name with Dishonored. The team was building a multiverse version of Paris where multiple universes saw players interrupt each other’s campaigns to do battle. It was an ambitious project, but it was slogged down by a bad publishing deal.
“They tortured us for nearly six months, into a deal that got worse and worse and worse,” Colantonio said of The Crossing’s publisher. “There were so many constraints. The most enjoyable part of all this process was to tell them, ‘No.’ They really thought they had us. They were kind of evil, frankly, as businessmen… It was my pet project. I wanted it so much, and not having it when it didn’t work was one of my first big failures.”
Years later, Arkane would eventually get acquired by Bethesda and find success in the Dishonored series, as well as getting folded into Microsoft’s Xbox Game Studios when Bethesda was, itself, acquired by the tech giant. However, when the team was thinking about what to do after Death of the Outsider, Bethesda broached the subject of The Crossing.
“We talked about it with Bethesda,” he says. “For me that’s like an ex-girlfriend at this point, I’ve moved on. Coming back to it came with too many memories, too much pain… One could say that, even though in the moment The Crossing felt like a painful failure, in the long run it was just a step towards a big breakthrough for Arkane.”
One such breakthrough that came out of it was Deathloop, Shacknews Game of the Year of 2021. It was there that Dinga Bakaba and the team at Arkane began to re-explore the idea of an invaded campaign. It was originally meant to tide Arkane over until it could come up with its next “Dishonored-sized” project, but support for the game quickly became so big that it got Bethesda’s full backing.
Colantonio eventually moved on from Arkane Studios and founded WolfEye Studios alongside former Arkane producer Julien Roby, and they launched the quirky and interesting Weird West in turn. Nonetheless, Colantonio appreciates the success of Deathloop and hopes it could eventually allow The Crossing to be dug up in some way.
“It was not ready for market,” Colantonio said. “But someone would figure it out. I still hope that Arkane will convince Microsoft to do it, because it was a fun game, it was not vaporware.”