A few days ago we wrote about Obsidian's cancelled Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs prequel and how it directly led to the loss of the Alpha Protocol IP, which is why there won't be an Alpha Protocol 2. But it's by no means the only game Obsidian have failed to make. Obsidian have had many cancelled games, but possibly the most interesting is that they applied to Bethesda to continue development of the promising-looking bounty hunter-focused Prey 2, before it went to Arkane. Details below.
Prey 2, if you don't remember, was meant to be the slightly out-there follow-up to 2006's excellent FPS Prey from Human Head Studios, which itself was a reboot of a cancelled 3D Realms game (this happens a lot to this series). While sort-of a sequel, Prey 2 instead featured a human bounty hunter called Killian Samuels on an open-world alien city planet. It looked amazing, but perhaps a tad too ambitious for Human Head Studios as the game was cancelled by Bethesda in 2012. They then handed the license to Dishonored studio Arkane who made this year's excellent System Shock-like reboot.
But what we didn't know is that in 2012 Obsidian, fresh off Fallout: New Vegas and in production of Alpha Protocol and the ever-delayed South Park: The Stick of Truth, were in talks with Bethesda about picking Prey 2 up from Human Head and making it more of an FPS-RPG, but still with the same general "human bounty hunter on an alien world" setup.
Obsidian wanted Prey 2 to feel like a genuine alien world, with believable alien races. Feargus Urquhart, studio co-owner and CEO, explains:
""What was important was having the aliens not just be aliens in suits. They have completely different desirous wants and needs, they react to different things they see, and they see things in different ways. How could we have aliens in this world really feel alien?"
To balance all that talky stuff they also planned to have parkour, jetpacks and grappling hooks, as Obsidian wanted to play with vertical space.
Sadly, it was all for nought. "Bethesda talked to us about the opportunity, they never promised anything," Urquhart says. Presumably Bethesda had already eyed Arkane for the game, who had bought the developer two years previously, and they certainly would prefer having a developer they own making an IP they own rather than an independent studio like Obsidian.
Fortunately things worked out fine in the end - Prey 2017 was fantastic, Obsidian are making the RPGs they want to make, and Human Head are working on a new Rune viking RPG. But we can't help but wish that bounty hunter game got made. It was looking amazing.