Friday, January 3, 2020

Deep Down - Capcom's Missing Game

Back during the early days of the PS4 there were a lot of games announced, and a lot of promises made. We got to see tech demos showing off how many objects the PS4 could handle at one time, there were games like Killzone to show off the system's graphics, and Sony themselves pushed just how great the new PlayStation Network would be. It was an exciting time for us PlayStation fans, but when everything was said and done, one thing was missing. Despite basically every game releasing as expected (putting aside how Final Fantasy XV changed), there was one game that is still nowhere to be seen. A little title being developed by Capcom. A game called "Deep Down."

The above trailer is the original teaser trailer from back in 2013. At this time we didn't know much about what Deep Down would be, but it was described as a free to play co-op souls like game. Up to four players would team up and take on randomly generated dungeons, while fighting enemies, large bosses, and possibly collecting loot. How the game would actually work and play was up to fan speculation, and we would go quite some time before we got to hear anything else about it.

Eventually other trailers would be released, and the game became playable at some events. Here we got a glimpse at character customization, weapons, combat, etc, but we also got more of a look into what the game actually would be. While the original trailer had us believe that the game would be a medieval style setting, it was eventually revealed this would not be the case. The game actually took place in the future, and had players diving into the distant past using found artifacts. This meant the game would have a wider verity of settings, but nothing more about this fact was expanded on. And so the years went by.

After almost seven years of waiting the game has still not been seen. What was meant to be one of Capcom's standout PS4 titles is now nothing more than a distant memory. As to what happened to the game is still unclear, but it has not been officially canceled. In fact a couple of months ago Eurogamer asked Yoshinori Ono about it. As quoted from their article:

There was a period where I thought you were going to be Mr. Deep Down. What happened with all that?
Yoshinori Ono: I haven't been called Mr. Deep Down quite yet. The original team is clearly no longer together at this point, but people might have noticed that we've kept the trademark registered, and it's not been completely given up on. Every year we examine titles we're doing in future, and we bring up projects to approve and move forward. There's not much I can say about it, but if you've noticed we've kept the trademark it means we haven't given up on the title completely.

While this doesn't tell us much about the game's status, it at least gives us hopes of a future. One that may actually be better for the game in the long run. (Assuming it does release that is.)

The thing is, Capcom of 2013 isn't quite like the Capcom of today. Back then they were struggling, and a lot of fans weren't happy with their products. Things were getting a little better, sure, but they still had a long way to go. Deep Down would've been their first major console title for the PS4, and it's really hard to say how that would've gone. It would've been free to play, but what's the catch? How would they make money off of it? Capcom already had received backlash for microtransactions and on disc DLC not too long before Deep Down was announced, so would the same be true for it? Again this isn't something we can possibly know for sure, but the point is Capcom wasn't in the best standing with it's fans at the time. Then things changed.

With the release of games like Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate on the 3DS, Capcom's fanbase began to grow once again. They were slowly making up for their past mistakes, and fans were buying their games again. This was a huge step back in the right direction for the company, but it wasn't until more lately that things exploded. While Monster Hunter 4U and Generations were both great games, Monster Hunter World became something many fans never expected. It took a series that was mainly popular in Japan, and turned it into a massive world wide hit! A game that most gamers have at least heard of, and one that now has a very active online community behind it. It's a multiplayer experience unlike anything Capcom has seen before, and it only continues to grow to this day. With it's first expansion being just as popular as the base game, if not more, it's not something we'll see slowing down anytime soon. So what does this mean for Deep Down? Well...

Even though Deep Down and Monster Hunter are two very different games, they're also very similar. Deep Down barrows elements from Capcom's other series, Dragon's Dogma, but it was also said to have a large focus on co-op. More specifically, four player co-op. This is something Monster Hunter World (and Monster Hunter in general) nailed down almost perfectly. The game is perfectly balanced for solo play, but also readjusts itself for co-op play when enabled. It's really up to you how you want to play the game, and that's something Deep Down was striving for as well. When playing with a group in Monster Hunter, team work is key, and being able to hold your own while working with others is the difference between life and death. It's co-op like this that helps keep Monster Hunter so engaging, but at the same time it can also ruin your experience if you team up with the wrong people. But that's how it should be. It's not a game where everything is handed to you, and it's up to you to pull your own weight. That's exactly the type of game Deep Down should be as well.

So, where am I going with this you might ask? Well it's simple. Since 2013 a lot has changed for Capcom, and they've gained a lot more experience since then. They've managed to create a Monster Hunter title that was successful world wide, and they've built a strong community around it. This is experience they previously didn't have with their online games, and something they can continue to apply to future projects. Something like a Deep Down revival. As a company Capcom continues to get better with time, and I believe they will continue doing as the years go by. Maybe Deep Down just wasn't ready back then. Maybe it would've just been another free to play game that would get tossed aside after the first week. It's hard to say for sure what it would've been, but I have hope for what it can become. This is a project that has potential, and as long as it's handled right it could easily become the next big thing. With the release of the next generation rapidly approaching, let's hope something finally becomes of this missing game from Capcom's past.