Every year, developers from around the world gather in June to showcase their most secret and anticipated projects. In the months leading up to E3, gamers witness the spectacle of influencers and industry veterans discussing the rumors of what might be, further fueling their desired announcements come to life. In the spirit of fun and excitement, E3 allows for the passion of gaming to be broadcast on a world stage and recognized for its influence on the entertainment industry.
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The reaction to the final season of Game of Thrones was polarising. Fans of the show had followed the narrative for over eight years—fans of the books, George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, for almost 23 years—and to see the conclusion rushed in such a way was disappointing to audiences, despite the talented and acclaimed work of the cast and crew. A video game might be just what the fans need.
Recent rumours have circulated claiming that Martin has been working with FromSoftware, the Japanese development studio known for games such as Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. According to one such rumour, Martin is creating the game’s world, writing the story to flesh out the setting. Hidetaka Miyazaki, director of some of the studio’s most acclaimed works, is reportedly involved in the project.
According to the rumour, the player will travel the open world on horseback, visiting various kingdoms in whichever order they please. They are tasked with killing the leader of each kingdom, after which they obtain their ability and add it to their own arsenal.
Little is known about the game, known internally as “GR” (rumoured to be “Great Rune”), besides some general gameplay information, so let’s consider some options that Martin and Miyazaki may take.
Game of Thrones
Six video games based on Game of Thrones have been released—four are strategy games (mostly on mobile), one is an action RPG, and one is an adventure game. If the rumours are true, a Game of Thrones project could prove very different to the attempts of the past.
In line with the rumours, the player could begin within the land of Westeros and decide which of the kingdoms that they would like to visit. In doing so, they could meet some of the citizens of each kingdom, discovering some backstory of the nations and possibly running some side quests for the people. They would eventually make their way toward the leadership of the kingdom, finding a way to kill the leader (or a different leadership figure, such as the military commander) and obtain their abilities or weapons to add to their own arsenal.
The continent of Westeros is not the only location to explore. East of Westeros is the land of Essos, with cities such as Braavos, Pentos, and Volantis. To expand their abilities even more, the player could travel across the sea to explore these cities and kill their leaders. In the east of the land is the Dothraki Sea, populated by the hordes of house-mounted Dothraki warriors—a challenging opponent to defeat, even for experienced players.
An even more interesting location would be the Lands of Always Winter—those that lie northernmost in Westeros, beyond the Wall. Should the game be set before the novels and show, exploring the land of White Walkers presents some interesting opportunities for both narrative and gameplay. If the game is set after the show, [spoiler]witnessing the aftermath of the Night King’s death and the impact his absence might have on the lands north of the Wall would be intriguing. The future of the Children of the Forest is left unclear in the show, so the death of the Night King presents some interesting consequences that a game could explore[/spoiler].
Setting the game in the hundreds of years following the events of the show also allows for some interesting narrative opportunities. [spoiler]In King’s Landing, players could discover the impact of King Bran the Broken’s reign—whether the city prospered during and following his monarchy, or whether it returned to turmoil once his reign was over. In Essos, the assassination of Daenerys Targaryen was likely to have an effect; whether or not the cities continued to prosper without slavery could significantly impact the game’s narrative and gameplay[/spoiler].
An open world Game of Thrones video game is long overdue, and FromSoftware might be the perfect developer to explore such a concept.
Martin’s other work
But what if the project is not related to Game of Thrones at all? While Martin is most well known for his A Song of Ice and Fire series, he has also written several other works throughout his life, some of which could lead the way to successful open world titles.
Martin’s first two novels are both science fiction. His first, Dying of the Light, follows the story of inhabitants of a rogue planet slowly moving toward a cold death in the depths of space. His second novel, Windhaven, is set on a near-uninhabitable that humans are forced upon following the crash of a colony ship. While the concept of kingdoms is unclear in the first novel, it is evident in the second, with the scattered islands of Windhaven serving as home to different groups. Several of Martin’s novellas are also science fiction, as is Wild Cards, an anthology series that Martin edits. Of course, should Martin’s collaboration with FromSoftware be a science fiction title, a new concept could be explored—but have faith in Martin’s experience in the genre.
Martin’s third and fourth novels—his final two prior to the success of A Song of Ice and Fire—are both within the fantasy genre. While he has had some success with science fiction and horror, he clearly has a knack for fantasy. Considering FromSoftware’s experience with fantasy-like games, perhaps the genre would be the most successful for a collaboration.
Some rumours about the project claim that it is based on Norse mythology, though the source of this rumour remains unclear (it appears to have begun in an unverified 4chan thread). Should the rumour have any standing, however, the game will join several other recent titles with Nordic influence, including God of War, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, and (possibly) the upcoming Assassin’s Creed: Ragnarok. Martin already has some experience in this field with Game of Thrones taking some Norse influences, and Miyazaki has some knowledge with some Dark Souls characters based on Nordic goddesses, so perhaps a collaboration in Norse mythology would not go amiss.
But perhaps the title will be something else entirely—a brand new project from the minds of Martin and Miyazaki. According to the rumours, we don’t have long until we find out. Microsoft’s press conference will take place on Sunday, June 9 at 1:00pm PT / 4:00 pm PT / 9:00pm BST.