Okay, here's a strange one.
In early May, we heard that Prey 2 had been officially stripped from original developer Human Head Studios and given to Dishonored developer Arkane Studios. It was a surprising move, but one that made sense considering Arkane had become Prey 2 publisher Bethesda's up-and-coming "rock star" studio.
However, not that long ago, Bethesda's Pete Hines revealed that the rumors were not true, that Arkane is not working on Prey 2. He didn't beat around the bush either, coming right out and dismissing any previous reports. But today, we have learned that Arkane is, in fact, working on Prey 2, and then things got a little weird.
According to a series of e-mails procured by Kotaku, Arkane's Austin studio, which was responsible for the Dishonored DLC, has taken control of the IP while their studio in France works on Dishonored 2. However, rather than continue the work started by Human Head, Arkane is working with a blank slate.
As a result, the studio is approaching the IP from a completely different perspective. In one of the e-mails, Arkane's Raphael Colantonio tells members of the staff that they are looking to make Prey 2 a spiritual successor to System Shock 2 - the popular sci-fi/horror RPG from Irrational Games.
The e-mail also reveals that Arkane Austin hoped to make an original IP, but that wasn't an option for the brand new studio. Taking on Prey 2 will be their initiation, and then perhaps the studio can carve its own path; that is, if Prey 2 is not an outright success.
So, the good news is that Prey 2 is still alive and that a worthy developer has an intriguing direction for the sequel. It's definitely a shame that the Blade Runner-esque concept Human Head showed at E3 2011 will never come to fruition, but that's occasionally the nature of the business.
At the same time, though, it sounds like Bethesda is still using the Prey name, but not really sticking to any of the core tenets from that underrated first game. We obviously don’t know anything about the project at this point, so we can't say that for certain, but it just seems that way.
And what about the need for the secrecy? Why did Pete Hines so clearly mislead the press when the news was already out? Our guess is that Bethesda wanted to wait until they had something concrete to show before breaking the news, so that gamers could evaluate Arkane Austin's work at face value and not make assumptions purely on rumor. However, if Arkane is only getting started on Prey 2 (a.k.a. System Shock 3) now, we won't be seeing anything from the game anytime soon.
What do you think about Arkane's Austin studio making Prey 2 a spiritual successor to System Shock 2? How do you feel about the game after all that has happened?