Vincit qui se vincit
Sophia Narwitz discusses her enjoyment of Arkane and the immersive sim genre as well as the issues going on inside the studio.
For those that can't watch the video, we learn that the studio is going through an identity crisis with two warring factions, one is corporate and the other far-left activists. A good number of the most regressive far-left types (such as the openly misandrist Hazel Monforton) have found positions in Arkane and have caused numerous employees to leave, ignore as to not risk losing their jobs, or attempt to have HR deal with it (though it has been stated that HR is on the side of the regressive minority group).
This has created tension within the company. You have one group of developers who just want to develop great games, another group that wishes to push their personal politics on every employee and into the products they make, and corporate that wants to push GAAS. Her sources state that Dishonored 2 and Prey were not affected by these two groups, but they fear that future products will be.
This leads to the core question of the video. Deathloop is a game that looks interesting with a unique concept and what seems to be solid gameplay behind it, however the overbearing pushes by Zenimax and the toxic work place environment that has impacted the mental well-being of a number of employees (reaching the point that those employees fear coworkers digging through who they follow and their past actions for reasons to cancel them even outside of work). Will this affect the overall game? Will it affect future titles from the studio?
For my personal opinion, I share many of the worries with Sophia. Dishonored is one of my all time favorite games that I still find enjoyment hopping back into and rushing through or simply exploring. Its world was one that I was deeply engrossed in and wanted to learn as much as I could through its lore. Dishonored 2 was a fun game, but I felt it was overall weaker in its narrative than the first. Prey I enjoyed, but I feel that my attempts of trying to go for the platinum (which made me run through the entire game on a first play through, on hard at that, with no upgrades) lessened the experience. I want DeathLoop to be great. I love the concept and its focus on the best part of Dishonored combat (the stylish and quick action and unique abilities) is awesome to see. However, I fear that Arkane will become what Obsidian has become - a shallow imitation of what it once was, marred by overly political, regressive individuals that negatively affect a major portion of the game (such as the writing in Outer Worlds).