Cancelled Jade Empire 2 story and world details revealed by ex-BioWare lead

Jade Empire
(Image credit: BioWare)

Numerous details of the cancelled Jade Empire 2 have been revealed by an ex-BioWare dev.

That developer would be Mark Darrah, who worked at BioWare for 23 years, until he exited both the studio and the ongoing development of Dragon Age 4 last year in 2020. Now, Darrah runs a YouTube channel called Old Game Dev Advice, and it's here, in a new video, that the former lead developer has revealed a slate of new details about the cancelled Jade Empire 2.

As first reported by PCGamesN, Darrah describes Jade Empire 2 as being "cancelled on its best day." The former BioWare veteran reveals that Jade Empire 2 began life as a direct sequel, which was actually set a few decades after the original game. However, once Mass Effect prompted the entire development studio to switch over to the Unreal Engine, the sequel was dropped in favor of a modern-day setting with the Jade Empire world.

This was actually going to follow on from the original "bad" ending of Jade Empire. According to Darrah, by the time of Jade Empire 2, magic had been supressed for hundreds of years, but was slowly beginning to make its way back into modern society. The project would go from "Jade Empire 2" to "Revolver," more of a spiritual successor to the original Jade Empire, and would ultimately be canned as more developers were needed for BioWare's Mass Effect and Dragon Age games - all while publisher EA was pressuring the studio to downsize.

It's an unfortunate note for the beloved action-RPG to end on. As Darrah argues, what would have been Jade Empire 2 was "cancelled on its best day," and the team behind the game were "trying to do some really interesting things around storytelling" in particular. On top of that, the development team even managed to produce a working demo for Jade Empire 2, which Darrah claims looked more like a fully-fledged game than any demo had before. Jade Empire 2 might be long gone, but we've still got plenty of RPG goodness ahead of us in BioWare's future.

For all you need to know about the developer's next game in the pipeline, head over to our complete Dragon Age 4 guide for more.

Hirun Cryer

Hirun Cryer is a freelance reporter and writer with Gamesradar+ based out of U.K. After earning a degree in American History specializing in journalism, cinema, literature, and history, he stepped into the games writing world, with a focus on shooters, indie games, and RPGs, and has since been the recipient of the MCV 30 Under 30 award for 2021. In his spare time he freelances with other outlets around the industry, practices Japanese, and enjoys contemporary manga and anime.