In October 2014, Human Head Studios revealed that Prey 2 was officially cancelled.
Announced as an open-ended game where you took the role of a Bounty Hunter on an alien world, Prey 2 turned heads upon its initial announcement at E3 back in 2011 thanks to the potential of its premise and some undeniably attractive visuals.
Sadly, it wasn’t to be. Prey 2 underwent numerous delays and alleged work halts over contract disputes between developer Human Head and publisher Bethesda. By the time news of its cancellation was made official, Prey 2 had been in limbo for some time. At one point, it was rumored that publisher Bethesda had placed Disohonored devs Arkane in charge of its completion, though those rumors are emphatically denied by both Bethesda and Arkane. So many weren’t surprised to discover that the project, once one of the most exciting things on the horizon, would never see the light of day.
Project director Chris Rhinehart spoke with Develop recently about what really happened during Prey 2‘s troubled development. “We stopped working on Prey 2 near the end of 2011, and had been working on it for close to two years,” he told them. “It was very close to an alpha state, with all major content pieces represented. We were at that point in a game where you can step back and see the whole picture and shift from developer to editor and decide which elements to cut and which elements to emphasis and polish.”
At this stage in development, the game’s mechanics “had progressed significantly past the live demo” first shown at E3 in 2011. Norm Nazaroff, project lead of Minimum – which was also developed by Human Head – had a few choice words to share. “It’s my personal opinion that we would have been counted among the best looking games of the previous console generation.”
Bethesda Vice President Pete Hines stated back in October 2014 that the Prey 2’s cancellation was an easy decision to make. Yet, Human Head feels differently on the subject.
When Bethesda announced the cancellation of the game, they said that the decision had been made because Prey 2 wasn’t up to par with required quality standards. But Tim Gerritsen, business developer director at Human Head, disagrees with that statement: “Bethesda stated their reasons when they finally cancelled the game in October 2014, and needless to say we have our own perspective on the matter that differs from the reasons they stated,” he said.
“As we said in response in October, we feel that the quality of the game was well represented by the materials we displayed in numerous public demonstrations on behalf of Bethesda and we are disappointed that fans won’t be able to see our vision come to life. We remain proud of the work we did.”
Prey 2 would have been the sequel to 2006’s acclaimed sci-fi shooter Prey. Applauded for its visuals and interesting gameplay, Prey allowed gamers to venture through portals long before gamers had heard of Chell and GLaDOS. Combined with brilliant gravity-moving conundrums and a competent combat system, and bucking the trend of macho white men by casting the player as a Native American, it was a refreshing change of pace from the sort of sci-fi shooters we were so used to at the time. It fared pretty well upon release, too – critics and players were impressed by the game, and Prey went on to sell over 1m copies in its first few months on store shelves.
You can watch Prey 2‘s action-packed E3 2011 reveal trailer and see the hype for yourself in the video below. Just don’t get too upset that it’s likely never going to make its way onto store shelves.