E3: Bandai Reveals .hack//G.U.
05.19.05 - 5:02 PM

On Monday, May 16, Bandai announced that they are publishing a new game in the .hack series, entitled .hack//G.U.. The announcement came with these sparse details: the game would again be developed by CyberConnect2, specifically citing the names of character designers and artists who did work for the previous games.

Then, at E3, Bandai showed a preview trailer for .hack//G.U., featuring, among other things, the reappearance of the previous game's protagonist, Kite, though not apparently as a playable character. The trailer exhibited no gameplay, only various cutscenes that left everyone watching with a lot of questions as to the nature of this new game.

As for what G.U. actually stands for, the trailer made a number of subliminal suggestions by flashing two-word phrases on the screen throughout the trailer, each with the initial letters G and U.

Up to this point, there have been a dearth of details. But today, RPGFan had the chance to interview Hiroshi Matsuyama, President/CEO of CyberConnect2, and creator of the .hack series. Matsuyama revealed to us a number of details regarding the upcoming game, many which helped to clarify what was shown in the teaser trailer.

.hack//G.U. is actually planned to be not one game, but three. However, unlike the previous four .hack games, these three "G.U." games will be their own game. Matsuyama commented that the previous four games were different only in regards to the plotline, but shared basically the same graphics, environments, music, etc. However, the G.U. titles will each have their own environments, new characters for each game, and new music. In other words, each game will truly be a separate game, not three parts to the same game (as many fans found to be the case of INFECTION through QUARANTINE). We were also told that the first part of the three-part G.U. series is already larger than the four previous games combined, which should allow for a longer and more enjoyable game experience.

In the .hack universe, the G.U. series will take place in the year 2017, seven years after the events of the previous four titles. Since the events of the previous games, a cataclysmic event has caused "The World" (that is, the MMORPG that the player encounters) to begin to evolve on its own. "PKs" (player killers) are now roaming the world, though it is not sure how they have come to be. Essentially, "The World" has become more unstable and uncontrollable. Yet, people keep playing.

.hack//G.U. will feature an all new cast of playable characters, though characters from the previous series (including Kite, as we have already seen) will make their appearances as they are relevant to the G.U. plot. Details regarding these new characters are not available at this time, though it seems based on the trailer that the number of playable characters will be roughly the same as that of the previous games.

Matsuyama estimated that the game's development has been going on for some time, as it is now about 60 percent completed. Though no dates are confirmed, we were told that the first of the three .hack//G.U. games will be released in Japan in the first half of 2006, and shortly thereafter in the United States.


Patrick Gann