It’s no secret that I am a fervent fan of the TimeSplitters franchise, with the original trilogy making up some of my fondest gaming memories, especially TimeSplitters 2, which I (and many others) consider to be one the best FPS games of all time. So you can imagine my excitement when the news broke that Crytek had sold the IP rights to THQ Nordic/Koch Media after years of sitting on them doing diddly squat.
Given THQ’s penchant for remastering old titles, my first thoughts when hearing this news was that we would finally get an HD remaster of the existing trilogy. Perhaps this will be used to gauge interest in the series to see just how much money and resources they devote to the next entry in the series, whether that is TimeSplitters 4 or something else. Because let’s be honest here, the real dream is to get a brand new instalment, and if we read between the lines of Koch Media’s CEO Klemens Kundratitz statement about wanting to ‘create a product that will thrill today’s gaming audience’, then it’s almost certain that new game will arrive at some point in…time.
It’s common knowledge that Free Radical was shopping TimeSplitters 4 prototypes around before the company was acquired by Crytek in 2009. However, aside from a bunch of concept art we have no idea of the direction the studio was taking the game, and in any case it’s highly unlikely that those concepts would be revived now given they failed to ignite publisher interest back then and how much gaming trends have changed since.
Some of the TimeSplitters 4 concept art
So what direction does a new TimeSplitters take? How does Koch take what made the series such a loveable experience and sell it in today’s gaming landscape? We theorise five directions that TimeSplitters 4 or non-numbered entry could potentially take.
Single-Player With Multiplayer
The most logical direction is to continue down the path it has walked three times before, and that’s with a solid focus on the single-player campaign and multiplayer experience. While the original TimeSplitters didn’t set the world alight, TimeSplitters 2 and 3 are renowned for having excellent campaigns but even better multiplayer. The series never took itself too seriously and that resonated through the game’s visuals and narratives, which despite being littered with comedy gold were still compelling thanks to fun and fast gameplay. However, the game’s early bread and butter was its multiplayer modes, with countless fans nostalgically recalling losing countless hours playing with mates when multiplayer meant playing one another in the same house on the same console and TV. The game’s mapmaker also got a fair workout and was quite often praised by critics. A new TimeSplitters could do something similar to Bethesda’s Doom or Wolfenstein, and that is to have a single-player campaign with fast and frenetic gameplay and a focus on storytelling (a la Wolfenstein), but then include a host of multiplayer modes and a map editor where maps can be shared with the community (a la Doom). Or they could use the Call of Duty/Battlefield model and focus on the multiplayer aspect, while including a high quality, albeit shorter campaign. Either way, this is the most likely scenario for any new iteration, and that’s fine with me.
TimeSplitters has always had great single-player and multiplayer modes (image credit: GameFabrique)
If the tea leaves are to be believed then single-player games are dead and multiplayer is the future. The only problem here is that carving out a name for yourself is easier said than done. While you may think that your premise is the next Overwatch, the reality is that it’s easy for your game to launch without anybody really noticing and before you know it your game is cancelled and you’re back to the drawing board, I mean just ask Cliff Bleszinski. However, if TimeSplitters was ever going to make it as a multiplayer exclusive title, then a team-based shooter in the vein of Overwatch is the most likely candidate. The game’s cartoony graphics would suit such a premise, and each TS character has unique enough traits to stand out and could bring their own strengths and weaknesses to the host of game modes. The downside is that by going down this route would mean TS4’s appeal to fans of the original trilogy would be limited.
Open-World FPS RPG With Co-Op
Perhaps the biggest trend this console generation is that every game feels the need to have an open world – whether it needs it or not. So naturally we must take this into consideration for any new TS game. Games with open worlds usually have some form of RPG elements, such as skill upgrades and character levels, all of which could easily fit into a TS open-world game. To make the open world have greater appeal, the devs could make the game’s campaign fully playable in via either solo or cooperative play. Players could jump between years featuring smaller scale open worlds with multiple ways of completing missions and side-objectives within that world. The idea of adding online co-op for the campaign is one that I would like to see explored (given couch co-op was in the predecessors), however I don’t know if the game’s comedic schtick suits an open world. Multiplayer modes such as Team Deathmatch could be thrown in to sweeten the pot.
A team-based multiplayer game may suit the TimeSplitters IP
Just think about it. A continuously evolving and active TimeSplitters universe. It’s highly ambitious and has the potential for a very cool world, but it’s highly unlikely given the amount of resources it would require to bring a game of this ilk to life with any real quality. Plus I can’t see the TS universe and community being overly accommodating for such a premise that is such a large departure from what made the games so popular in the early 2000s.
If you want to be taken seriously in today’s multiplayer climate then you’ve got to have some form of Battle Royale mode. I mean even FIFA 19 is including its own version of the popular mode, so a TS Battle Royale is here by default. Despite the raging popularity of the genre that has captivated mainstream media into thinking that it’s a child-destroying addiction akin to meth in a Pez dispenser, only a handful find success long-term, so carving out a name for your game in a market dominated by Fortnite and PUBG may be easier said than done. What could work is a hybrid take on the genre, like what Crytek has done with Hunt: Showdown. Players could drop onto a map in pairs and be tasked with extracting time crystals while fighting off one another. Unlikely to be considered, nor should it be.
Could a TimeSplitters MMO akin to Destiny work?
Whatever Koch and THQ have in store for TimeSplitters has got the community buzzing. I personally would love to see Dambuster Studios (previously Free Radical) take the reins. I know I speak for many when I say I can’t wait for them to spill the beans on what the future holds for the TimeSplitters franchise.
Let us know in the comments below what you would like to see from a new TimeSplitters game.