Have You Played… Prey 2?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

No, no one has. Prey 2 [official site] was cancelled long before it was finished and reborn as Arkane’s more simply titled Prey.

The new Prey is by all accounts a good or great game, but I can’t help but be disappointed I’ll never have the opportunity to play Human Head’s take. It was nothing to do with the new Prey and only tangentially related to the original. It cast you as the terribly name Killian Samuels, an American man who becomes a bounty hunter in an alien open world. You had hover boots, could do parkour, and while following a scripted storyline would spend time pursuing sweater-wearing aliens around grim future cities on a tidally locked planet.

That sounds pretty amazing to me, though I admit that what I saw of the game at a press event (E3? I think it was E3) at the time looked both slightly janky and like the only existing piece of the game. It was clearly far from finished and, therefore, who knows what the end product would have been like. But it was interesting enough that I wanted to find out and I still like the idea of an open world cyberpunk bounty hunting game.


  1. Solidstate89 says:

    You know what other sci-fi, bounty hunting game no one else got to play either?

    Star Wars 1313.

    • Premium User Badge

      Graham Smith says:

      Another game I saw which looked like a vertical slice – only Star Wars 1313 seemed far thinner even than Prey 2.

      • dontnormally says:

        It seemed pretty clear they knew their studio was being shut down so they circled the wagons and came up with the best damn demo reel oh good lord i’m going to need to job hunt soon they could muster. Star Wars 1313 is the sort of thing Disney would never ever let fly.

    • ZippyLemon says:

      By far the most over-drooled-over concept in the history of the gaming industry, and that’s saying something.

      Star Wars themed Uncharted. Fucking yawn.

  2. Vegas says:

    Ironically, Arkane would probably be the best developers for this concept.

  3. Godwhacker says:

    Well that’s just the thing, isn’t it? I’d like to play the No Man’s Sky that I imagined before I actually played the one that was released. It was like X-Wing meets PlaneScape: Torment. It was incredible.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Ninja Dodo says:

    This is why we need a Digital Museum of Unfinished Games. NDAs be damned.

    Better yet, developers and publishers should just donate ALL materials and code once X reasonable amount of time has passed. These games should then be made playable to whatever extent possible (open/crowd-source it if you have to), with full insight into the entire behind the scenes process (videos, drawings, notes, designs and so on).

    Closest thing we have is this:

    link to gamehistory.org (hopefully will gain more traction)

    • MajorLag says:

      Unfortunately this concept is in direct conflict with profit-motive-only capitalism, which is basically a religion at this point in a lot of places, so I doubt it’ll ever happen. Just look at copyright. Originally, all copyright works (in the US anyway) were supposed to enter public domain after a decade and a half, the reasoning being that they were part of the shared culture of the people and the copyright was just a way to get creative works made by providing a limited exclusivity and the money that comes with it. Now it is basically indefinite because Disney.

      It’s really the same story with DRM. Companies don’t want us to preserve our cultural history because they want to keep selling it back to us.

      • Premium User Badge

        Ninja Dodo says:

        Sadly true. In a lot of cases, software piracy is the only way digital culture is preserved at all (especially before GOG and all these reboots came along) so in that sense it serves a useful function. When it comes to development materials and old source code often the only reason we still have them is that former employees kept that stuff without permission because companies (with few exceptions) don’t care about archiving and preservation because there’s no money in it and often material is just thrown out and forgotten especially when a company moves or closes. Jason Scott of the Internet Archive famously told developers at GDC “Workplace theft is the future of game history” making that very point. link to gdcvault.com

  5. Guvornator says:

    It’s interesting that they’ve used the Portal tech for the Locking Glass screens. Do they do anything more with it?

  6. haldolium says:

    I’m disappointed how the actual Prey 2 got canned. I enjoyed Prey for what it was and the Human Head game looked very promising.

  7. nimbulan says:

    I have to agree that gameplay demo they showed looked pretty janky (at least looking back at it after several years, I somehow missed the demo when they showed it.) If that was a fully-polished vertical slice-type demo, I think we’re better off that it was canned. If it wasn’t…I don’t really understand why publishers release footage of games so early. It’s just like that recently-released Darksiders 3 video – the combat looked so stiff and dull that it’s not going to get people interested, so why show it so early?

  8. Bobcat says:

    Shame. We could’ve had the Killian Experience.

  9. JakeOfRavenclaw says:

    “These images remain as a reminder of what might have been. Human Head Studios crafted a game we remain quite proud of.”

    Wow, I don’t remember ever seeing something quite like that on an official website before. Obviously it’s easy to glorify a game that will never actually have to prove itself, but those trailers looked awesome back in the day. Wonder if Bethesda will ever dig that idea out of storage, even though it would have to get a new name at this point.

  10. Chromatose says:

    I really hope some mischievous soul at Human Head leaks those slices onto the internet one day. There was definitely a lot more than just the slice that was shown at E3 – Just Googling the ‘Prey 2 leaked screenshots’ turns up a whole treasure trove of gorgeous-looking images.

    While I’m perfectly willing to concede there may well have been no foul play on Bethesda’s part, and they were in fact not trying to strong-arm Human Head into becoming a Bethesda dev house, and that what was developed so far genuinely didn’t meet the bar Bethesda had set, I would still absolutely love to stand around in the locations shown and drink in the atmosphere. Looking at that sprawling neon city in the screenshots still gives me the chills.

  11. Mungrul says:

    There’s a good video about Prey 2 over on that there Youtube wot I was watching just recently:
    link to youtube.com

    As commented above, I still hope we get to play a game like that one of these days. It’d be ace if Human Head took the core idea, removed it from the Prey universe and released it. If they used a new engine too, I think the evil lawbots at Bethesda wouldn’t be able to stop them.

    • fish99 says:

      Everything they worked on while being funded by Bethesda belongs to Bethesda though, and was probably physically removed from their offices when the project closed. That’s just how things go, even when all that stuff has almost no value to Bethesda.

      • Turkey says:

        Even if HH started from scratch with the same concept, Zenimax would probably outspend them in a lenghty lawsuit to determine if any of the assets had been developed while HH was still with them.

  12. kud13 says:

    I’m still hoping Human Head eventually take a totally unrelated “cyberpunk bounty hunter shooty/RPG concept” game to Kickstarter. That demo looked freaking awesome as far as I’m concerned.

  13. marmite says:

    What’s to stop Human Head just making the same game they were gonna make but changing the story and setting slightly and obviously not calling it Prey?

    • Chromatose says:

      According to their own social media (they were surprisingly candid on Facebook for a while), Bethesda owns all assets related to Prey 2 – i.e. sounds, models, engine code etc. They would basically have to start again from scratch, which AFAIK they currently cannot do as the team got bled dry after the fallout with Bethesda. It’s a real shame.

      The quote I found was as follows:
      “Unfortunately we could not use those assets or technology as we do not own them and no longer have access to them. We’d have to start over from scratch and create a whole new project with new funding from a new publisher. That said, it’s not outside the realm of possibility…”

  14. poliovaccine says:

    “Open world cyberpunk bounty hunting game” seems so damned obviously awesome when you say it like that, it almost seems surprising it doesnt already exist. Then again, I am routinely surprised at the severe shortage of dinosaurs, pirates and (proper, flying saucer/Orson Welles invasion-type) aliens in gaming.

  15. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    “It cast you as the terribly name Killian Samuels” Terribly nameD?

    But yeah, interesting concept! Too bad it was cancelled. I feel like that’s a pretty common thing in gaming, something that sounds super cool but didn’t work out for whatever reason.

  16. gabrielonuris says:

    Oh yeah, the closest we’ve got from having a Blade Runner shooter. Just imagine if Human Head could get the rights to do a Blade Runner game, remove the aliens from that, put some replicants instead and ditch the Prey title…

    • Unclepauly says:

      Then we’ll have “Bladerunner”? The new bladerunner is coming out soon and I’m sure someone will make a game out of it. Hopefully someone up to the job, though we know how movie games usually turn out so my hopes aren’t sky high.

      • Turkey says:

        Ugh. If it wasn’t for Villenueve, I wouldn’t be in this constant anticipation limbo. Almost feels worse than if I knew the movie was going to be crap, tbh.

  17. boundless08 says:

    I remember when this trailer came out it gave me a jonesing for Mace Griffin Bounty Hunter, and now Graham has given me said jonesing again.

    I don’t think it can be bought digitally anywhere, I don’t even know if it would hold up but I remember at the time it being very cool and unique

    • Flopdong says:

      Mace Griffin was a solid but unspectacular game. I liked it enough to beat it, but not enough to replay it. Looks like the easiest way to get it is to buy a physical copy on amazon for $10-$20

  18. FatOak says:

    “Killian” always reminds me of The Running Man:

    link to youtube.com

    But yes, I would love to have seen Prey 2 fully developed from that vertical slice.

  19. Merus says:

    The thing I remember most about Prey 2 was how it when we found out when Bethesda likes a studio it works with, it likes to not pay the studio, then offers to buy them once they’re bled dry.

    I agree this is probably tangential but I figure there are worse things than Bethesda periodically being tagged as a company who bleeds its partners.

  20. OmNomNom says:

    I still have the official Prey 2 t-shirt from an expo, saw a sneak peek of the game and thought it looked epic. Pretty disappointed it was canned :(