Prey 2 Is No Longer In Our Prayers

leaping into the void

Though there have been murmurings (and indeed alleged leaked emails) that much-anticipated but much-troubled open world shooter Prey 2 had been snatched away from original dev Human Head and entrusted to the tattooed hands of Dishonored dev Arkane, Bethesda have now stated that the game is as dead as Zhora after three bullets in the back.

But what’s in a name?

“It wasn’t up to our quality standard and we decided to cancel it,” Bethesda vice-president and PR boss Pete Hines told CNET yesterday.” It’s no longer in development…. We never saw a path to success if we finished it.” Given we’ve been waiting for Prey 2 since 2011, this isn’t a huge surprise.

However, he does go on to carefully specify that “Human Head Studios is no longer working on [it]” and that “it’s a franchise we still believe we can do something with – we just need to see what that something is,” which could add fuel to the secret Arkane project rumour. He doesn’t say no-one’s working on a Prey game, pointedly.

Given there has already been, ah, some history of, er, mixed messages about the status of Prey 2 from Bethesda, it would not seem entirely unwise to do some reading between the lines here. A videogame with the name ‘Prey 2’ is no longer in development, but a videogame with ‘Prey’ in the title may still be: we just don’t know whether it or is not yet.

The next question is whether that Schrodinger’s videogame would bear any resemblance to Prey 2’s planned designer – essentially, Blade Runner on an alien world and with a whole lot more shooting. It’s a concept with a great deal of promise, but equally I can see how there’s a risk of it devolving into rinse and repeat go-shoot-that-guy tasks.

If you want to have a jog around the wheel of the unsubstantiated rumour mill, there are some alleged ‘leaked’ design documents for Arkane’s alleged Prey game, which specify a System Shock 2-inspired affair, with heightened survival aspects. Entirely uncorroborated as yet, but a fascinating read nonetheless.

Commiserations, in any case, to anyone who worked on ‘Prey 2.’ You got the world excited, and I hope you get the chance to do that again.

31 Comments

  1. KeeperKrux says:

    Gather round and listen, as I tell you a tale of the underhanded publisher Bethesda and it’s sordid dealings around the game Prey 2.

    At first, it begins well. The game was being developed by Human Head, who worked on the game and released a snazzy trailer at E3 in 2011. Fans were excited, gamers were interested, and Bethesda was happy. Why wouldn’t they be? Development was on track, and the project was getting positive press. Bethesda and Human Head signed an agreement giving human Head 6 months to a year to polish the game and populate it’s missions. All in all, the game was set to release on time in 2012.

    But weep, for it could not last.

    Bethesda decided a game wasn’t good enough. Bethesda decided they would much prefer to own another studio. Already having forced Human Head into a contract stating they couldn’t develop any other games except Prey 2, Bethesda cut funding and asked for changes and fixes without following through on its previous promises to give the team more time. In order to keep the company afloat & meet Bethesda’s ever-increasing demands for changes to Prey 2, Human Head was forced to accept work supporting development on Bioshock Infinite and Defiance.

    After months of this, conflict came to a head. Human Head asked for more cash and time to finish the game. Bethesda said up yours and hid behind the original contract, despite their efforts to waylay the game. Then Bethesda went in for the kill and tried to buy Human Head. Oddly, Human Head didn’t want to be owned by a company that had been bleeding them dry for months. The development company made it’s last stand and essentially went on strike, refusing to put any work into the game while Bethesda continued it’s tactics.

    Despite many attempts by Human Head to negotiate, Bethesda stonewalled them – as per the contract, the game failed to release by a certain date and Bethesda got the game back, and Human Head was released. While Human Head lived to fight another day, Prey 2 remained in the grasp of Bethesda.

    Having failed in their takeover attempt, Bethesda was left with a property but no game. It is rumored in hushed voices that they passed development to Arkane studios, but on this dreaded day, it appears, having no further use for Prey 2, they have given up on the title & consigned it to the abyss.

    Now you know the truth, believe not the vile lies of the monolithic publisher that would use such a beloved franchise as a lever to expand their business. And weep, as we all weep: for what could have been, but is now no more.

    • Bull0 says:

      With you, except for the bit about it being a beloved franchise. It’s alright, I guess, and while Prey 2 looked really awesome in the visualizations it would’ve looked just as cool by any other name.

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        heretic says:

        They had some pretty cool mechanics though, walking on walls, fighting on mini planets that you can walk all around – the native american themes and that you didn’t really die?

        The engine was pretty cool at the time as well, I remember the part where you’re in the vents that have some sort of wormhole and you can see yourself walking around? Also the geometry of the levels being dynamic impressed me at the time.

        • MadTinkerer says:

          Prey was a great game once you got past the boring, bland shooty corridors in the beginning, and a terrible game whenever the main character opened his mouth. Prey 2 was going to have a different main character and a different setting, so it would have at least had a completely different set of flaws.

          Some of the best levels in any game ever are in Prey, and I wept at the end when the infuriating main character survived but all the beautiful levels were tossed into the sun…

          • Distec says:

            The new character did seem like a chunk of generic military whitebread, complete with ridiculous name. That was the one area I was really hoping would get some revision in what I saw of Prey 2.

            Oh well, doesn’t matter any more!

      • deejayem says:

        I loved Prey. It had a lot of clever ideas, very satisfying shooting, and some super-smart level design. But most of all it was just batshit crazy – upside-down rooms! Little crawling beasties whose legs you rip off to turn them into grenades! Monsters that jump out of giant vaginas! It was utterly ridiculous in a very pleasing way. But I agree there didn’t seem to be anything other than the name linking the original to the new version (which looked interesting but very different in atmosphere).

        • PopeRatzo says:

          But most of all it was just batshit crazy – upside-down rooms! Little crawling beasties whose legs you rip off to turn them into grenades! Monsters that jump out of giant vaginas!

          You just made it sound like the greatest game ever.

          This was the game with the Native American protagonist right? I remember enjoying that one. Liked the music, too. We need more games like that.

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            particlese says:

            Those were the most disturbing monster closets I’ve ever seen.

            The wall-walking wasn’t as excellent as that in AvP2, but yeah, it had some pretty crazy stuff in there in general. My favorite part, hands-down, was the short section toward the end with the self-assembling corridors. I wish there had been a lot more of that. Other games have done similar things to various extents (Portal 2 comes to mind), but Prey’s version felt so much impressive. Could be the novelty of it at the time and my nostalgia glasses, though…

            (Reply semi-fail: This was supposed to be a reply one level up.)

    • dangermouse76 says:

      This sounds like a compelling narrative, is it based on any facts or testimony from staff at any of the studios? If it is that is terrible.

    • Siresly says:

      Was gonna say something about how it should forever be brought up what business assholes Zenimax/Bethesda are, but I guess that already happened.

      link to ign.com
      link to neogaf.com

    • Werthead says:

      Bethesda’s acquisition tactics are always interesting to see in action. They pursued a similar course with id and Arkane themselves, and were only prevented from doing so with Obsidian because Obsidian were much larger and also were (allegedly) protected to some extent by the Bethesda game studio, who are apparently much less asshatish than Bethesda the big publisher.

  2. Blackcompany says:

    I wonder if perhaps Zenimax media and thus Bethesda find themselves on shaky financial ground these days. I suspect not; terrible a game as it is, TES Online sold pretty well, I believe. However, neither of their other studios has released a game in literally years.

    Either way, Bethesda would have some serious convincing to do in order for me to buy another of their products. They need new engines, an actual combat system, more enticing movement and plot and voice acting that is more than just phoned in. Also, QA would help.

    So yeah…if Bethesda were to suddenly go away, I’m not sure I for one would notice. Their support for mods is waning and was never nearly as supportive as they claim. Its readily apparent some sort middleware was stripped from Skyrim’s toolset before it shipped. Probably the stuff that actually made it, you know, work. And lets face it: these days, open world games aren’t nearly so scarce as they were circa 2011.

    • Noxman says:

      I feel like a lot of those criticisms have been mirrored by many people long after the game was released. Lets not pretend, we’re talking about Skyrim primarily. The game released into the joyous hands of many many gamers who played it and loved it. The reasons things like poor writing, shallow characters etc etc start to come up was due to the sheer magnitude of content and time spent playing.

      You will see consistent posts of someone saying they played the game for 70 hours and then complain that the characters are all rubbish and there is nothing to do. The reason for this seems to be the lack of any ending. Granted the main story does not end especially impressively but there is much more to do. The trouble is that the game never stops and the credits never roll. So your last memory is how boring it was running around each city looking for more content and not how you kicked the dragons’ ass and saved the day.

      Granted the combat system could be more movementy and dynamic, I myself played Dark Messiah on day one and have loved it every day since and fully expected it’s kind of first person melee combat to become the standard. Regardless Skyrim’s combat did feel tactile and was a vast improvement over the last iteration.

      I just think it’s a disservice to claim that it was scarce and that open-world games have so much more content now. Also to claim no one would notice if the dev studio disappeared is rubbish, it is widely accepted that they are working on Fallout 4 and 3 along with New Vegas were incredibly successful and well received. New Vegas itself still having an active modding community, not to mention Skyrim’s own modding community which is still innovating further.

      Of course, none of this helps that everyone compares Oblivion and Skyrim to Morrowind with VERY rose-tinted glasses. I do not dispute this on grounds of story, Morrowind had the best hands-down, but the technical progress in Oblivion was remarkable. One of the very first games where you had mountains in the distance that you could actually just go to, it was all in-game.

      At any rate, I feel people are too hard on Skyrim and should be careful to separate Bethesda Softworks the developer from Bethesda the publisher (easier to call them Zenimax).

      • LionsPhil says:

        One of the very first games where you had mountains in the distance that you could actually just go to, it was all in-game.

        Project IGI, 2000, says hi.

        • Perkelnik says:

          Well played :)
          I remember actually trying to get to the edge of the gameworld, so I started climbing them mountains… Got bored after some 10 minutes.

      • SMGreer says:

        Skyrim was an amazing feat in so many ways. I still play it. Its atmosphere makes up for its so-so story and the Dragon/Voice lore is actually really darn cool as well as adding another layer to the gameplay. Skyrim itself seemed perfectly put together, balancing the more challenging areas with the easier ones and giving so many avenues of exploration.

        People might take issue with its faults but to me that seems a bit nitpicky given the stuff it gets absolutely right.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        Very nicely put. I get really tired and really sad sometimes with all the flak Skyrim gets, when I’ve had dozens of hours of absolute joy from it (would probably be hundreds but my gaming rig sadly passed away). Possibly a silly reaction, but sometimes you can’t help but get defensive when people are flat out telling you that all the fun you’ve been having isn’t actually fun.

        Also spot on with the comment about Dark Messiah, though. That we haven’t had first-person combat that good since is a real shame, and also frankly baffling.

    • LionsPhil says:

      These points are fair but somewhat irrelevant given this game wasn’t being developed by Bethesda themselves nor, as far as I know, using their same godawful engine. (There was a little gameplay footage at one point.)

    • RQH says:

      Seems you’re struggling with some facts here. Whatever you say about the quality of Skyrim, it sold at serious blockbuster levels, far beyond what any previous ES game had sold. If Bethesda wasn’t having financial problems when they released Morrowind, they’re certainly not having financial problems after Skyrim. And as to Zenimax media’s other studios, they released Wolfenstein, The Evil Within, and TESO this year. So it’s actually been literally weeks since any of their other studios released a game. Dishonored was two years ago. Skyrim the year before that. Given the size and scope of Bethesda’s games, it’s not surprising if they go four or five years between major releases, and tens of millions of Skyrim sales means they can, especially because Zenimax owns a lot of companies and isn’t publicly-traded like EA, Activision, Ubi, etc. I mean, you could still be right, but several of the assumptions underlying your conclusion are faulty at best.

  3. tur1n says:

    I liked the trailer well enough back in 2011. But maybe it never came together and the storys about the big bad publisher are overblown?

  4. xrror says:

    Bethesda is the company brilliant enough to acquire iD, and then be stupid enough to drive John Carmack out of it. There are of course very many levels of fail that led to iD management to sell to anyone at all, which was an iD fail but a Bethesda win. But then to have Bethesda go full lawyer owned retard/full Activision/EA on the remains of iD was duh… just… duh.

    So Bethesda and their short sighted MBA crap, and yea. Let them burn for being all about being corporate money trolls (please – STFU about being ‘they are a company’) and ignoring anything else. Like you know… visions, unicorns, and the future.

    Yea, have a problem with that? Then go buy a console.

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    Harlander says:

    Prey 2 always looked super-cool, but I never really understood what it gained from the Prey name other than “hey, here’s a sequel to something you might have liked”.

    It’d still be cool without being Prey, I mean.

    • KillahMate says:

      It was pretty much Bethesda trying to milk an old license, and Human Head using the opportunity that this provided to design something new and cool. I was perfectly fine with that.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Indeed.

        And what a name to pick. This is now two Prey games that have been abandoned, the name (perhaps, in this case) later being dusted off to make a somewhat different (and less exciting*) game.

        * Obviously don’t know what will become Prey 2, but it has to compete against one hell of a teaser/snippets of gameplay and all the untarnished imagination that goes with that.

  6. djbriandamage says:

    I have to wonder whether this sequel could have been taken more seriously if digital sales of the original hadn’t been so badly botched. They ran out of keys and refused to generate new ones despite clear demand, and they spread remaining keys across a variety of small and doomed retailers like Direct2Drive. I bet they could have sold another half million copies, easy.

    • LionsPhil says:

      They ran out of keys and refused to generate new ones despite clear demand

      As ways for screwing yourself over go, managing to screw up your supply for an infinite zero-unit-cost resource is pretty amazing.

  7. sinister agent says:

    I lost any sympathy at “franchise”. Also I vomited quite a bit.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      Good lord, am I ever glad it’s not just me. Everytime I hear that word in regards to games it makes my skin crawl. And ‘product’, you always feel like they’re making something they truly love when they use the word ‘product’.

      Sorry to hear you’re sick though, do get well soon!