Archives August 2023

Veteran Red Dead Redemption writer leaves Rockstar after 16 years

Veteran Red Dead Redemption writer leaves Rockstar after 16 years

It’s not unusual for employees to leave a company, especially one as large as Rockstar Games. The developer behind the popular Grand Theft Auto series has had quite a few high-profile departures in recent years, with Lazlow Jones and Dan Houser waving goodbye to the studio earlier this year. And now it looks like another long-time member of the team is packing his bags. Earlier this week, it was announced that Michael Unsworth, the vice president of writing for Rockstar, has left the company after more than a decade of service. Unsworth’s lengthy resume includes writing credits on all of the major GTA titles, as well as Red Dead Redemption and Red Dead Redemption 2. He also wrote for other notable Rockstar games, including Grand Theft Auto 4, L.A. Noire, and Max Payne 3.

Originally spotted by GTAForums user Rucke and reposted by the official Rockstar news Twitter account SWEGTA, Unsworth’s LinkedIn profile has been updated to reflect his departure from the company. He did not elaborate on his decision to leave or give any details about what’s next for him. But the move is notable given that he was a key writer for the studio’s last big release, 2018’s Red Dead Redemption 2, along with co-founder Dan Houser and another credited writer, Sam Houser.

Unsworth’s departure comes just days after Rockstar revealed that work has begun on the upcoming Grand Theft Auto VI. While the studio hasn’t confirmed any specific details about what’s in store for the franchise, it is expected to be set in Vice City. The game is currently in development, with a 2022 release date targeted by the company.

While it’s not unusual for employees to leave prestigious companies, the departure of Unsworth is a sign that Rockstar may be struggling to keep the team together as it continues to work on future titles. It’s been a rough few years for the studio, with prominent members like Rockstar North president Leslie Benzies and former GTA creative lead Lazlow Jones leaving in 2020. But Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick remained confident in the studio’s future in the wake of Houser’s exit, saying things couldn’t be better.

While it’s not clear exactly why Unsworth has left the company, it’s easy to see why he would want to do so. His massive writing resume includes the works of some of the biggest names in gaming, and he has proven himself as a valuable asset to the studio over the past decade or so. Hopefully, the rest of the team can pick up the slack in his absence and continue to deliver top-notch entertainment. Then again, with a few more years in the pipeline before GTA 6 arrives, that might be a tall order to fill. Regardless, we look forward to the studio’s next release, which is likely just around the corner.

Granblue Fantasy: Relink secures February 2024 launch date

After a lengthy wait, Granblue Fantasy: Relink has secured a February 1, 2024 launch date. During Gamescom Opening Night Live 2023, Cygames unveiled a new release trailer for the action RPG that showcased large-scale battles and a look at the game’s combo-driven gameplay.

Fans of the long-running series have been waiting for an action RPG since its initial announcement in 2016. The title suffered multiple delays and even saw development shifted from PlatinumGames to Cygames Osaka before being finally released this year. The publisher has also outlined several special editions for the title that will include a Proto Bahamut figure and a hefty artbook.

The new release trailer showcases several narrative story beats as well as a strong emphasis on the massive Primal Beasts that players will encounter throughout the game. The team at Cygames has also released a handful of new screenshots and a gallery for the game to give fans a better look at some of these massive creatures as well as the game’s colorful world.

The slick hack and slash style battle system is one of the main draws for the game, as the player can switch between a wide variety of characters that are all unique in their own way. From a quick and nimble gunner to a heavy damage-dealer, the character selection is extensive and allows players to mix and match their party for obscenely over-the-top attacks. Those flashy combos can be linked together for ‘Link Bursts’ which see the entire party perform a showy attack that can deal massive damage to all enemies onscreen.

Aside from the large-scale battles, the game will also feature a number of in-game activities that encourage players to explore and interact with various areas of the Sky Realm. Some of these include the ability to take on a series of challenges that offer rewards such as new equipment or a chance to fight a Primal Beast.

In addition to this, the game will be supported by a full suite of social features including online multiplayer, voice chat, and social media integration. The game will be available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC via Steam.

Gematsu sat down with Granblue Fantasy: Relink general director Tetsuya Fukuhara as well as the game’s creative director Yasuyuki Kaji to discuss the title and what to expect when it releases next year.

Fukuhara spoke about the long wait that fans have endured for the title and how the team at Cygames wanted the game to feel like a spectacle in every aspect. He also talked about what it was like directing the game after taking over from PlatinumGames and how that influenced the way the team approached the project.

For those interested in securing a copy of the title for their console or PC, the publisher has announced that preorders are now open. Fans can find all the details on the special editions and pricing for the game on the official website.

Meta is bringing Threads to the web – is this the final nail in the coffin for X

Earlier this year, Meta launched Threads to be its latest Twitter-like social media platform. The app hit the app store with a bang and grabbed 10 million users within hours of its release, but since then, signups have slowed and user engagement has dropped. Meta hopes to revive the app’s popularity by bringing Threads to the web.

The company will reportedly launch a browser-based version of the app early this week, allowing people to use it on their computers instead of mobile devices. The move comes as part of a series of changes that are aimed at making Threads feel more complete.

In the weeks since the app’s launch, Meta has introduced a number of features including reposts, a new way to filter notifications in the Activity tab and the ability to follow other users (although you still can’t see their posts in a chronological feed). The most recent update brought post translations, which allow you to see a translated version of a message that would otherwise be unavailable.

All of these changes are a response to feedback that the app isn’t as functional as it could be. While they’re a good start, Meta needs to do much more in order to keep the app relevant. At an internal town hall meeting, Reuters reports that Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted that more than half of the 100 million users who signed up for Threads did not stick around. He noted that it’s normal for a new app to lose some initial users as it establishes itself in the market, but he also promised more retention-driving hooks would be added.

A web-based Threads may help the app retain some of its existing users, but it won’t make it more appealing to those who didn’t get in on the ground floor and already have established habits with other platforms. And a lack of any sort of reach metric means that it will be difficult for marketers and influencers to gauge how well the app is performing.

Meta is a little late to the party with this move, but it’s an important one for its long-term success. It’s a good indicator that the company hasn’t given up on the app, which is a big gamble for a firm that has invested tens of millions of dollars in its virtual reality project, the Metaverse.

Shares of Meta closed up about 3% on Wednesday, outpacing gains for the tech sector as a whole. The gains came despite the fact that the company had warned of lower than expected earnings due to the slowdown in its core Instagram business. But a strong web-based release of Threads might give the company a needed boost as it continues to struggle to turn around its fortunes.