There are always going to be those games that just never see the time of day. At some point during the development process, a project will be cancelled, shut down and (probably) never heard from again. It’s a bummer, but it happens in every entertainment industry and it always will. Then again, we rarely even know about a lot of these games, because they’re shuttered before they really mature into anything interesting.
That just makes it even more upsetting when we do know; when a project goes through the pre-release hype cycle, gets really exciting and intriguing… and then gets gutted right before the finish line. Those are the cancelled games that just break your heart.
In this Multiplayer entry, Callum, Matt, Ty and Abir have come together to return to a few of the most exciting/tragic/frustrating cancellations in recent memory and shout (read: type) their begotten hype out into the void. Let us know what you think of our choices in the comments section below — and if you enjoy what you read, consider supporting the site further by following us on social media and/or becoming a member!
Callum: Star Wars: Imperial Commando
Star Wars: Republic Commando holds a very special place in my heart. It’s one of the first games I can remember playing, and the way it blends horror, tactical FPS elements and efficient characterisation surpasses many modern big-budget shooters. More than that, though, the special features that came with the disc stuck with me; because of them, I started to realise how many people are involved in the development process, and just how much art and passion can be crammed into a game. When I reached the end of Republic Commando, saw Sev go MIA and the squad receive Order 66, I was excited to see how the sequel would tie up the loose ends… Except the sequel never came.
A decade later, and I’m still not over it. The easiest way to get me to engage with Star Wars is still to put a clone commando in it. The cliffhanger’s been left completely unresolved, and no other game I’ve played has hit quite the same notes, managing to be so full of character while still packing tension and horror into every corner of every level, so I was heartbroken when I found not one but two sequel concepts that were cancelled — partially for the games, and partially because I’d have to play favourites between the two concepts for this piece; as much as I’d like to see Sev again, I also think there’s potential for a fascinating story with Delta Squad being integrated into the Empire while also being sidelined in favour of the Stormtroopers.
Matt: Silent Hills
Let’s face it, this one still stings. One of the most brilliant minds in video games decided to revive one of the most famous video game horror series of all time. We may have gotten Death Stranding out of the cancellation since Kojima and actor Norman Reedus still wanted to work on something together, but it was Silent Hills that originally pitched this duo to gamers and horror fans alike as one to look out for.
Most gamers will remember it. The now unattainable ‘Playable Teaser’, better known as P.T., released on the PlayStation Store as a free demo of sorts, putting players in the shoes of an unknown protagonist stuck in an infinite loop, traversing the hallway of an abandoned house. The tone was downright creepy, the imagery was horrifying and the demo’s antagonist, Lisa, provided fans with an image we won’t soon forget. Upon completion, a brief reveal trailer showed a confused and cautious Norman Reedus walking through the foggy streets of an unnamed town, wherein the game’s title was finally revealed… and our minds were absolutely blown.
It was soon after that a conceptual trailer was shown off, further highlighting the insanity that was to be Silent Hills, complete with more gruesome imagery, horrifying foes and a first-person perspective that seemed to all but confirm a new direction for the franchise. Sadly, after P.T. and the conceptual trailers achieved great success, anticipation and critical acclaim, issues between Hideo Kojima and publisher Konami proved irreconcilable and Silent Hills was cancelled. Although rumours and cryptic tweets persist, nothing official is on the cards — here’s hoping that Kojima’s next project picks up the pieces.
Ty: Prey 2
My distaste for Bethesda’s endless shenanigans reached a fever pitch with the botched release of Fallout 76, but my absolute hatred towards the company started with the cancellation of Prey 2. The sequel to one of the most underrated shooters of the seventh generation, Prey 2’s promise to let us take control of a space bounty hunter in an open-world sci-fi shooter had me absolutely salivating. Everything that Human Head Studios showed off looked exciting and gleamed with style and ambition. Sure, what we saw lacked polish, but it was early footage… and god damn did it look like a blast to play.
That’s why it hurt so much when Bethesda cancelled it because it “wasn’t up to [its] quality standard.” Translated, it’s corporate speak for “we screwed Human Head over.” It’s a crying shame that we’ll never get to strap on Cillian’s rocket boots and traverse the stars. Given that Bethesda had Arkane Studios use the Prey name for an entirely unrelated game, I still find myself staring into the sky and wondering if we’ll ever get to set foot on Exodus.
See ya later, space cowboy.
Abir: Star Wars 1313
LucasArts stole the show at E3 2012 when it premiered Star Wars 1313: an Uncharted-like third person action title set inside Coruscant’s seedy underbelly. Honestly, this is the game that inspired today’s Multiplayer topic, and it’s probably the biggest tragedy of our picks today.
Watch_Dogs and Halo 4 were the previous graphical standouts at E3 2012, but they quickly faded to the background once Star Wars 1313 arrived with years of Unreal Engine 3 optimisation paired with the combined expertise of LucasArts, Industrial Light and Magic, LucasFilm Animation, and Skywalker Sound.
Within a single gameplay demo, Star Wars 1313 set the benchmark for what modern games could and should look and sound like with great (for the time) facial animations, seamless cutscene-gameplay transitions, advanced lighting effects, and crisp, sci-fi sound design.
Tragically, Star Wars 1313 didn’t make it past 2013 when Lucasfilm’s then-new parent company Disney announced that it was stopping all internal game development in favour of licensing future Star Wars games to external developers and publishers.
LucasArts remained open as a licensor, and Star Wars 1313, like a dying author’s final novel, was left unfinished, becoming the greatest “what if?” of modern gaming.