Perhaps Prey 2 just wasn't meant to be. It was first revealed to the world in 2011, and the premise was intriguing: The hero of the new game was a survivor of the crashed plane that appeared in the original, who was now earning a living as a bounty hunter in one of the galaxy's seedier neighborhoods. But that was followed by delays, alleged work stoppages at developer Human Head over contract disputes with Bethesda, and finally, an official cancellation.
"It wasn't up to our quality standard and we decided to cancel it. It's no longer in production," Bethesda Vice President Pete Hines said in October 2014, more than three years after that first trailer rolled out. It wasn't the gentlest cancellation announcement ever, and it's also one that Human Head (still) disputes.
"We stopped working on Prey 2 near the end of 2011, and had been working on it for close to two years. It was very close to an alpha state, with all major content pieces represented," Project Director Chris Rhinehart told Develop. "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 emphasize and polish."
At that point, the game's technology "had progressed significantly past the live demo" that was shown at E3, Gamescom and PAX, according to Norm Nazaroff, the project lead on Minimum, the online shooter Human Head took over last year. "It’s my personal opinion that we would have been counted among the best looking games of the previous console generation."
"As we said in response [to Hines' statement] 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," Business Development Director Tim Gerritsen added. "We remain proud of the work that we did."
And I remain disappointed that it's never going to see the light of day. A cinematic trailer is a long way from a released game, but Human Head's willingness to take the series in such an unexpected direction was exciting. The one possible upside to the whole thing is that Prey 2 may not actually be dead at all: A rumor that Dishonored studio Arkane had taken over the project first surfaced in mid-2013, and while Bethesda denied it, its specificity about "the Human Head Prey 2" versus whatever Arkane is currently up to makes me think that maybe we haven't heard the last of this after all.