When former Visceral Games boss Glen Schofield announced the launch of Striking Distance Studios in 2019, he said its first game would be "an original narrative in the PUBG universe." Last week, though, they unveiled it as The Callisto Protocol, a sci-fi survival-horror game that looks very much like a spiritual successor to Visceral's Dead Space, and very much not like a PUBG game. Plans change, right?
Except that apparently, they did not change. In an interview with IGN, Schofield said that The Callisto Protocol is in fact set in the PUBG universe, as it was originally billed, but 300 years after the events of PUBG.
"The funny thing is, I came in with this story when I went and met with the PUBG people for the first time and started talking about [The Callisto Protocol] and building a studio," Schofield said. "I presented this game to them, and so what we did was we made it fit within the PUBG storyline"
It is funny, because PUBG is a semi-silly battle royale in which a cast iron frying pan can literally save your ass, while Schofield wants The Callisto Protocol to be "the scariest game on next-gen platforms [and PC]."
"From what I hear—it’s hard to be the creative and talk nicely about it—but from what I hear... [Dead Space] was one of the scarier games of [its generation] and I want to do the same on next-gen, or what’s considered now the current-gen," he said.
"We’re trying to make you really feel like you’re in this world. Even though it’s you escaping from this prison and you’ve got to survive these unthinkable horrors."
I'm excited about the prospect of another Dead Space-style experience, but also baffled by the need to crowbar it into the PUBG setting. It's an interesting way to draw eyes to PUBG, I suppose, which the publisher may feel is now necessary: It's still got a healthy player base, but as Steam Charts indicates its no longer anywhere near the million-plus numbers it used to put up. In The Callisto Protocol itself, though, I feel like any meaningful callbacks to the source material—Dr. Disrespect posters on dim, dripping bathroom walls, maybe—would be nothing but a distraction.
PUBG Corp does appear to be leaning more heavily into the game's lore—it recently launched an entire website dedicated to it—so It'll be interesting to see how these two very different pieces of the puzzle fit together. We'll be waiting awhile for that, though: The Callisto Protocol isn't set to come out until sometime in 2022.