Epic Games can add another licensee to their rapidly growing list. NCsoft has announced that it has licensed the popular Unreal Engine 3 to develop two yet unnamed “top tier” MMOs. NCsoft has used Unreal Engine 2 in the past to develop Lineage 2, known for its beautiful graphics even by today’s MMO standards, and its soon to be released game Exteel.
Could this mean that NCsoft is going to make the natural progression of developing Lineage III on the Unreal Engine 3? There was a report nearly a year ago of thieves stealing some of Lineage III’s source code, so the game was in development for probably at least a year and a half at minimum. Other sources point to the project having officially begun Jan. 1, 2008, so the original project may have been scrapped to start over. Stranger things have certainly happened before. After all, Lineage III will need something to put it over the top and set itself apart. There was also a previous report from an unnamed NCsoft representative stating that Lineage III would be developed on a proprietary engine rather than the Unreal Engine 3; however, that is old news, and the licensing of the Unreal Engine 3 is new news, so anything is definitely possible at this point.
Or perhaps, now that NCsoft owns the rights to the City of Heroes franchise they are going to reinvent it with a sequel using the newly licensed engine? NCsoft Europe CEO Geoff Heath has recently gone on record saying the company has plans to launch new titles in the Company of Heroes franchise “in the next couple of years.” Just starting out with this new engine would certainly fit right into the beginning of such a development cycle.
Maybe we will see both titles come to light or NCsoft may just have plans for a new franchise altogether with their newly acquired engine. After all, they have made their interest in moving to consoles with their MMO’s quite clear. Heath added in his recent interview, “We’re going to be showing some stuff on PS3 later this year….We’re not quite ready to say what it is yet.”
My money is still on Lineage III and/or City of Heroes 2.