In 2018, Red Dead Redemption 2 players were strolling through Rockstar Games' open-world western when they came across a nod to another Rockstar game: Bully. On a revolver awarded at the end of Red Dead Redemption 2's mission The Noblest of Men, and a Woman, there's an inscription that reads, "Canis canem edit," or "Dog eats dog"—Bully's European name, and the motto of its high school setting, Bullworth Academy.
The name showed up again in June 2019 in a Grand Theft Auto Online update—this time a piece of art uploaded with the Diamond Casino & Resort referenced "Canis canem edit". And the Bully 2 subreddit went nuts. "Everyone went crazy, making all kinds of theories about the painting," a Bully 2 fan named Mac tells me. "Some say it is a hint that Bully 2 is the next Rockstar game. I truly believe in it, since it's what everyone wants".
Mac first played Bully when he was six, at a cousin's house, and 13 years have passed since then. He's still waiting for a sequel, and speculating about it with fellow Bully fans on the subreddit and on Discord. "We talk on a daily basis, and have become almost a family at this point."
Released in 2006, Bully is an active-adventure game set in a school in a town called Bullworth. You play Jimmy Hopkins as he navigates the school's social cliques in an attempt to take over Bullworth Academy. It's open-world like Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto, but in a setting that resonated with fans in a different way, from a perspective they hadn't seen before.
"When I played the game, I fell in love with it immediately due to its originality," says Bully fan Simone Leccese. "Bully felt so different—the location, the characters… all that was something I had barely seen in a video game. It just felt so fresh."
Leccese continues, "The game took place in a school and the amount of detail Rockstar Vancouver had put into it was great. They sacrificed a big environment just to make sure everything and everyone had a purpose. I've pretty much been waiting to play a sequel immediately after I completed it."
The game isn't without controversy, though. In 2005, before the game was released, people protested in front of the developer's offices for "glorifying bullying." But for many players Bully actually achieved the opposite.
"So many people presumed things about Bully," says Bully YouTuber Mark, known as SWEGTA online. "They presumed that it would promote bullying or lead to a significant increase in bullying. What's interesting about that is not just the fact that they were wrong, but that Bully actually served as a great way for a lot of kids who were getting picked on to vent and escape that sort of thing, myself included."
There are two pinned posts that greet readers of the Bully 2 subreddit. The first is a list of everything they've compiled—some stuff that may be clues, others that may not. There are unconfirmed leaks and reported artwork, perceived Easter eggs from other games, the hype train in full force. The second pinned post is a warning: "Don't let Bully 2 drive you mental," it says, in an attempt to slow that hype train down. "Nothing is truly confirmed," Bully 2 subreddit moderator TheNathanNS writes. "But yet many of the community are taking every bread crumb of Bully 2 info that drops as a full banquet meal."
But the Bully 2 fanbase has dropped that warning now that a potential new clue has dropped: an image that the subreddit is calling a leaked screenshot from Bully 2. (The screenshot was posted in a video by moderator TheNathanNS—ironically, the moderator who wanted to slow down the hype train—and we definitely cannot verify its authenticity.)
The image is question is a map of a place called Wintersmith Mansion. The bar at the top of the screen has options: Help, Character, Story, Map, Progress, Settings, Online, and Social Club. The subreddit has taken this image and run with it—it's safe to say that Bully 2 fans desperate for a sequel are freaking out.
"This is awesome!! I think it's not fan made."
"It'd take a lot of effort to fake something like this and if it is fake, then props to the guy who faked it. But it looks genuine to me."
"IT'S HAPPENING BOYS (probably)"
"Either this is genuine, which it looks like it is, or the person who faked this must be very skilled at what they do and needs a good job for it. At least it's the most genuine thing we have so far."
"Oh my god I'm freaking out. We're sooo close to an announcement, I can feel it."
Another Bully 2 fan posted on August 14 that the website bully2.com was updated in July. Of course, bully2.com redirects to Rockstar Games' Bully website—and it's not much of a suggestion that the game is about to be announced. But for the fans desperate to see it happen, it's something to cling to. Another bread crumb, if you will.
Bully was an important game to plenty of people. High school is an underused setting, and one that players connect with. Just look at the popularity of Life is Strange or the Persona series for examples of that. Even people who didn't enjoy high school at the time are eager for a chance to relive it in videogame form, and Bully was a rare chance to do that, to imagine what it would be like to rise to the top and rule the school.
"If Rockstar never announces a sequel, then I'll obviously be disappointed," Mark says. "I will, however, still be glad and grateful that they made such a unique and clever game in the first place."