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Cancelled shooter Hyenas was reportedly Sega's most expensive game ever

“So what went wrong? Total lack of direction"

A character aims at a big mech suit with a bunch of guns strapped to it in multiplayer arena shooter Hyenas
Image credit: Sega

Creative Assembly’s Hyenas - the recently cancelled extraction shooter about space Robin Hoods - was supposedly publisher Sega’s biggest budget game ever. New details about the game’s development claim that a lack of direction, slow progress, and an engine change turned the once hopeful “Super Game” into the canned FPS that it sadly is today.

That’s according to a report from Total War-centric YouTuber Volound, citing anonymous sources that were corroborated by VGC. The report suggest Hyenas was originally greenlit after the lukewarm commercial performance of Alien: Isolation and strategy spin-off Halo Wars 2. Creative Assembly’s higher-ups reportedly wanted something more obviously sellable, and thus pointed to popular games such as Destiny, Escape From Tarkov, and PUBG as inspiration.

Hyenas is said to have been one of Sega’s much-discussed super games, which were described as mega-expensive blockbusters that the publisher hoped would rake in mega-bucks. Last year, the publisher described the initiative as a game that “can draw together a large community, involving not only players but also streamers who stream the game and viewers who watch their videos.” Mixing parts from every other blockbuster shooter would seem like one way to achieve that goal, but alas. “Towards the end, there were people from Sega Japan more or less permanently at the UK office,” one anonymous source told Volound, “this has never happened the whole time I’ve worked at [Creative Assembly].”

Another anonymous source told Volound: “In the early days, Hyenas aimed for a ‘lovable rogues’ vibe, surviving in a messed-up world controlled by the elite, channelling Han Solo with a bit of Firefly for good measure.” The game apparently had a “gritty sci-fi” vibe with “a touch of NASA.”

That edgier edge lasted until Neil Blomkamp - the Hollywood director behind District 9 and Elysium - jumped aboard to provide some early ideas. Blomkamp apparently came up with the idea that players should fight over pop culture fossils from Earth - vinyl records, VHS tapes, and other lost physical media. Basically, you’d play as scalpers fighting over invaluable merch - like something out of a viral Black Friday disaster video, only this time with kinda cool abilities.

“He also had that idea of inserting a lot of internet humour and stuff,” the source continued. “He even made a mood video to show what he was thinking, and to be honest after that period of ‘wtf are we doing here’, it was a real shot in the arm to have some direction (the project so often felt utterly rudderless).”

Sega cancelled Hyenas alongside other unannounced projects. Redundancies at developer Creative Assembly followed suit, with employees working on the Total War series also affected. “What I’m actually furious about is that the redundancies are affecting people who had nothing to do with Hyenas,” said one anonymous source. “Like IT, operations, marketing, HR, even some people over on TW, they bear no responsibility for this binfire.” The studio still plans to release the next installment, Total War: Pharaoh, on October 11th.

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