When looking at the feedback for on "Forging WeaponLord," I noticed several commentators asking the obvious question: where's WeaponLord 2? Short answer: I don't know. I wish it was in my hands right now, and so does James Goddard, Dave Winstead, and the rest of the old WL team. Sadly, there aren't any concrete plans to bring back WeaponLord (yet), but I did pick up some tidbits about what the creators would like to do in a sequel.
NEW CHARACTERS: While the original WeaponLord only had room for seven characters, the team had plenty more ideas for other barbaric fighters. These included a spear-wielding orc, two gargoyles stacked on top of each other, and a demonic pit beast that would have been the tortured pet of Zarak. Having more dual-wielding characters was also something the developers wanted.
EXPANDED STORY: As outlined in this document, the canonical story would have Korr's long-lost brother, Kang (who was also Bane), returning to lead his brother's tribe after Korr is mortally wounded; Zarak's father, Raith, who is mentioned throughout the original game, would become a fully-fledged character; and Zorn would have also returned, however, as Goddard noted, "he would have been changed by his encounter with the possessed shield." The idea of WeaponLord 2 being able to read your save data from the original game and tailor the story based on how you played and which endings you received was also tossed around, though Goddard admits this would be a nightmare to program.
SMOOTH DIFFICULTY CURVE: This was a big issue for Winstead and Goddard. WeaponLord was a complex game, and the designers think its sequel could retain the first game's play style without being so impenetrable. As an example, they mentioned how, in Street Fighter IV, a new player could pick up the controller and start throwing fireballs and doing ultra combos without too much effort; they could feel badass right away. Then, when those new players saw combos using one-frame links and focus attack canceling, they were incentivised to improve their skills so they too could use those techniques. The original WeaponLord didn't have this; if you weren't already proficient at the game you got destroyed.
2D VERSUS 3D: The debate between making WeaponLord 2 a 2D or 3D fighting game is still up in the air. Should it be a fully 3D fighting game, like SoulCalibur, or a game with 3D character models fighting in a 2D arena, like Street Fighter IV? That decision hasn't been made, yet. In either case, Goddard is confident he could use 3D characters and still retain the same soul of the original game--while also adding in a ton more animations.
So, why hasn't WeaponLord 2 (or WeaponLord HD) happened yet? There are lots of reasons: time, money, and the fact that Namco--publisher of the original WeaponLord--still holds the rights to the WeaponLord IP. Goddard and Winstead considered trying to buy the rights from Namco after launching their joint-venture Crunch Time Games. However, when Crunch Time's first game, Shred Nebula, didn't take the world by storm, the idea of buying back WeaponLord was put on the sidelines.
A crowd-funding campaign was also considered, but ultimately deemed unfeasible as well. As Goddard explained, "In early Spring of 2012, [Winstead] and I were considering a Kickstarter to build a 3D WeaponLord that would have featured a professional fighting 3D engine that, after the project was completed, would have been open source for the community to do non-profit games with (the 3D equivalent of MUGEN, but with much easier work flow and pro-grade tools).
"However, if we were going to ask for crowd funding to build that, it was critical we be able to ship it and not run out of cash. The estimates got up to the $5 million mark and we decided that was not the right way to go. That project was very much motivated by building a fighting engine equivalent to unity for the community and the goals blew out the budget. Neither [Winstead] or I were in a position to take on, despite having built many combat engines and worked on so many fighting and combat games."
The fate of WeaponLord is still up in the air. The creators definitely want to make sequel, and it sounds like a lot you readers out there want to play another WL game as well. Rest assured that if the stars align and the opportunity presents itself, Goddard and Winstead will dive into WeaponLord 2 as soon as possible. They've learned a lot over the past 18 years, and have received a lot of feedback on the original game. "Honestly, that's the worst thing," said Goddard, "we didn't get the chance to take that feedback and do the right thing by growing the franchise into what players wanted." Hopefully, some day, they'll get that chance.