Earlier this week, a new video trailer was released for Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark, the upcoming sequel to Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. The trailer features new gameplay footage and narration by longtime Optimus Prime voice-over actor Peter Cullen, while the video reiterates how this new game will “bridge” the universes of the games and the live-action Transformers movies. However, instead of really selling and explaining the premise of the game, the video raises more questions and concerns than answers.
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron left the Transformers: War for Cybertron series in a pretty uncertain place. The storyline was essentially a reboot or re-telling of classic Transformers Generation 1 mythology, showcasing the Autobots failure to save Cybertron from the tyrannical machinations of Megatron and the Decepticons. The game ended with the Autobots, led by Optimus Prime, evacuating a dead Cybertron on the Ark. The Decepticon, led by Megatron, launched an all-out assault on the Ark. Optimus Prime managed to fend off Megatron, but not before both ships were sucked through the trans-dimensional portal. The obvious implication is that the Autobots and Decepticons will crash-land on prehistoric Earth as they did in the original 1980s animated series.
Unfortunately, developer High Moon Studios is not getting the opportunity to make a big epic finale for the franchise, unlike Rocksteady Games with Batman: Arkham Knight. It is unfortunate because the Transformers: War for Cybertron series contained the best Transformers games ever made. Utilizing designs that looked more like modern updates of the classic G1 style, a narrative evocative of the classic animated series, and fun third-person shooter mechanics, Transformers video games had never been this fun to play. Even now, the multiplayer modes for the games are infinitely playable. The bad news: Fall of Cybertron’s sales reportedly did not do good enough business to warrant a more direct sequel. So, one could argue that Transformers fans can count themselves as lucky the franchise is continuing at all. Going by VGChartz.com, the game only sold about 660,000 units. This was quite steep decline for the War for Cybertron sales of about a million units sold.
What’s concerning is melding the movie and War for Cybertron universes. While the War for Cybetron series has been pretty exceptional thus far, the movie-based games have not been up to par. Plus, the War for Cybertron games catered to fans of the old school Transformers universe and characters, as opposed to those of the movies. The movies, while very popular, are a polarizing subject among Transformers fans. However, based on sales for the Transformers: Dark of the Moon video game adaptation, the last movie-based Transformers game, fans prefer the War for Cybertron series (in terms of games).
The new video does little to allay concerns over the future of the franchise. Peter Cullen speaks about a new McGuffin artifact used in the game called the “Dark Spark.” This is the evil version of the Matrix of Leadership. Megatron will obviously want it, and the Autobots will want to destroy it. The video also mentions that the game takes place on Earth and on Cybertron. However, how does the bridging of game and movie universes come into play? What happened to the ending of Fall of Cybertron? And if the game is still set on Cybertron, which was evacuated in the last game, then that means Rise of the Dark Spark is not a true sequel. If this is essentially a side story taking place before Fall of Cybertron, that presents a great deal of plot holes. After the firing of many members of the High Moon Studios staff and placing the studio on Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, it appears that a desired sequel or conclusion to the War for Cybertron series will never truly happen.