Seeing how we’re dealing with titles stuck in development hell, the action-fantasy game Hellraid carries quite the ironic name.
It was originally planned to be a Dead Island mod before developer Techland announced that Hellraid would become a fully fledged game in mid-2013. Techland then considered porting the game over to their newest engine and introducing it to Steam’s Early Access program, pushing the game to release on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One as a download-only title.
Its troubled development was ultimately put on hold so that the studio could focus on its other IPs, and while its page is still online on Steam, it remains to be seen whether this ambitious project will one day hit the shelves.
The Last Guardian
The Last Guardian was heavily influenced by Shadow of the Colossus, both in gameplay and in story.
Active development on the project started in 2007, and the game was first shown off during E3 2009, but seeing how the PlayStation 3 had trouble running The Last Guardian as it was initially envisioned, tons of fine-tuning and re-coding had to be done.
The game got delayed for the proper polishing, but when developer Ueda split from Sony in 2011, it looked a lot bleaker for the project.
The Last Guardian has recently made its way to the PlayStation 4 after almost a decade and its fair share of delays, but the stronger hardware proved to be a necessity to show it off in its full glory.
Duke Nukem Forever
This is probably one of the most infamous cases of video games being stuck in development hell. Duke Nukem Forever had been in development at 3D Realms since 1997, and before its final release in 2011, the game resurfaced occasionally only to sink back into obscurity soon after.
Downsizing and lawsuits struck 3D Realms when publisher 2K grew frustrated with the team’s inability to produce the game, and development was ultimately picked up by 2K themselves in collaboration with Gearbox Software.
Duke Nukem Forever was delayed a handful of times after that, but sadly, no amount of polishing could save this game from its impending doom.
Its troubled development resulted in Duke Nukem Forever feeling like a dated mess that far too rarely tried something new or impressive, and while it’s a solid shooter at its core, the game ended up disappointing players and critics alike.
Industry heavyweight Rockstar Games was partnering up with Sony in 2007 to develop the PlayStation 3 exclusive Agent, which was revealed to the public in late 2009. Two years later, however, that exclusivity was questioned. Early concept art for this stealth thriller seeped in occasionally, and to this day, Agent is said to be still in development.
Nobody seems able to shed some light on the game’s situation or what caused the constant stream of delays, which does worry those who are looking forward to this ambitious project. People now speculate Agent could become a PlayStation 4 exclusive following more or less the same route as The Last Guardian in that it requires the proper hardware to run optimally.
Sadly, speculation is all it will be for the foreseeable future until announcements are made and questions are answered.
Beyond Good & Evil 2
When the original Beyond Good & Evil came along, it was initially planned to kick off an entire trilogy.
Because of poor sales, Ubisoft wasn’t thrilled to begin work on a sequel, and nothing but hopes and plans seeped through the cracks. In 2008, a teaser trailer was released for the project, but seemingly to no avail.
Michel Ancel has since announced the game is currently in active development over at Ubisoft ever since the release of Rayman Legends, so it’s likely that Beyond Good & Evil 2 could be landing within the next couple of years.
In 2002, Blizzard Entertainment first announced StarCraft: Ghost for PS2 and Xbox. It would be a stealth-based spin-off delving a bit deeper into the StarCraft lore, but when co-developer Nihilistic Software dropped out of the project, development slowed down significantly despite initial claims that Nihilistic’s part was already fulfilled.
StarCraft: Ghost was then due to release around 2005, but seeing how the next generation of consoles were coming up, Blizzard wanted to port the entire project.
Because of its high resource costs and the already troubled development, StarCraft: Ghost was postponed indefinitely. Some claim the spin-off is dead for good, but Blizzard has always remained confident that it will see the light one day.
Reshuffles are currently happening within Blizzard, so it’s feasible StarCraft: Ghost is making its way into active development once moreover.
While we did see a new entry in the franchise in the form of the superb DOOM reboot, developer id Software initially planned to continue the series and simply release a new installment. Announced in 2007, it seemed as if Doom 4 was coming along pretty well.
It would be set on Earth and would more or less be a standalone entry that returned to the series’ roots and stepped back from the horror element introduced in Doom 3. Kotaku claimed mismanagement surrounding the project led to plentiful hiccups in development, and two years after id Software was obtained by ZeniMax Media, it was decided that the project should be redone from scratch.
The game has always remained the team’s priority, and this strong devotion ultimately led to the DOOM reboot we were provided with earlier in 2016. Still, we would’ve loved to see what Doom 4 might have looked like.
Final Fantasy XV
Final Fantasy XV was originally intended to be a spin-off of the main series, titled Final Fantasy Versus XIII. From 2007 all the way through 2012, development on this project was troubled to say the least.
Technical issues on the PlayStation 3 were the biggest pain for the Final Fantasy XV at the time, leading to the game switching engines. However, by that time, the next generation of consoles were peeking over the horizon, and major reshuffles led to the project being re-imagined from the start.
Development on Final Fantasy XV was more or less straightforward from that point on, and the game finally saw the light of day earlier this year to rave reviews.
Aliens: Colonial Marines
Oh boy, this one. Originally in development by Check Six Games, the team behind Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly, Aliens: Colonial Marines was mysteriously cancelled before its release on PlayStation 2 back in 2001.
Sega bought the rights to the Alien franchise in late-2006, claiming they would create an entirely different version of Aliens: Colonial Marines in collaboration with 2K and Gearbox Software. It was officially re-announced in 2008, but due to incoherent development, the game didn’t get released until early 2013, where lawsuits and horrid reviews awaited it.
Aliens: Colonial Marines was seemingly falsely advertised with a noticeable, controversial graphical downgrade at release. Lay-offs at Gearbox didn’t aid the project either, with a plethora of developers combining forces to make up for the studio’s inconsistency.
Demiurge Studios and Nerve Software largely tackled the game’s planned DLC, whereas TimeGate Studios crafted a large chunk of its campaign. This led to Aliens: Colonial Marines feeling like a mixed mess with troubled pacing, wonky animations and bland gameplay, with its elements colliding 90% of the time.
Safe to say it sparked outcry from fans of the franchise, but luckily, the success of Alien Isolation made Colonial Marines fade into obscurity once moreover.
Team Fortress 2
The original Team Fortress was a mod created for the arena shooter Quake in 1996. Two years later, the minds behind the mod were hired by Valve to begin work on a standalone sequel, delving deeper into the class-based system Team Fortress was known for.
Naturally, Team Fortress 2 wouldn’t have made this list if the development process would’ve been a straightforward one. Valve originally intended Team Fortress 2 to have a more realistic modern war aesthetic akin to Counter-Strike that’d let you parachute-drop into the match.
A Commander class was also considered that’d give you a tactical overview of the game, issuing commands to other players like a living strategy game. It was briefly shown in 1999 to rave feedback, but when Team Fortress 2 was delayed in mid-2000, no word came from it until it suddenly emerged again in 2006, running on the all-powerful Source Engine.
This time around, it had a completely different tone and style, and Valve said they experimented with about four vastly different concepts until they settled for the comedic, bright style we’ve come to love today.
Ever since its launch in 2007, Team Fortress 2 went free-to-play and remains one of the most popular games on Steam. Sometimes, hard work pays!
In August 2006, 3D Realms announced a sequel for Prey was in the works. It would center around Tommy abandoning Earth after being blamed for the disappearance of him family and girlfriend, maintaining the gravitational gameplay introduced in the original. In 2009, it went from one developer to another, ultimately ending up at ZeniMax Media.
It was revealed around that time they 3D Realms’ work on the sequel was little more than simple brainstorming that ultimately led to the idea of playing as a bounty hunter. ZeniMax stated the sequel would hit the shelves in 2012, with Human Head Studios leading development on the project.
However, for unknown reasons, Human Head Studios silently halted work on Prey 2, which left the project silently floating around in oblivion. Employees states the reasons for cancelling development were petty and political, but no official word has ever come from it. The project ultimately ended up with Dishonored developer Arkane Studios, where it was announced that they would reboot the Prey franchise is collaboration with Bethesda Softworks.
The premise has little resemblance to any of the former ideas, since players will take on the role of Morgan Yu, who must fend off aliens in a space station. It doesn’t look as intriguing as Prey 2 did, but at least there’s more Prey coming our way.
Dead Island 2
Whereas the original Dead Island took place on the island of Banoi, its sequel would introduce the zombie outbreak to the more colorful California. Early development started soon after the original in 2012, but when Dying Light was pitched to Deep Silver, that project became the studio’s priority.
Dead Island 2 was then handed over to German studio Yager Development, known primarily for Spec Ops: The Line. Gameplayt was first shown to the public during GamesCom 2014 along with a memorable debut trailer, where it was made public Dead Island 2 would see a release date somewhere in 2015.
Dead Island 2 is still in development, mind you, but there’s no word on how far it has progressed since 2014, whether the setting has remained the same, or when it’s scheduled to be released. It has quite recently been removed from Steam, however, which does not always bode well.
We’re about 97 percent sure that whenever Half-Life 3 comes around, the internet will blow up like you’ve never seen before. Valve had been secretly working on Half-Life 2 ever since the release of the original in 1996. The sequel remains one of the finest shooters to date, despite being released back in 2004.
Between 2006 and 2007, Valve released Half-Life: Episode 1 and Half-Life 2: Episode 2 respectively, which continued the story of the base game. Episode 3 was expected to be released within three months following the second episode, but alas, it never came to be, and seeing how long it’s been since Episode 2, frustrated fans have taken comfort in simply dubbing the next installment Half-Life 3.
Infamous rumors have been circulating ever since, with some ranging from downright absurd to somewhat believable. Valve has remained careful and silent about the project besides the occasional tease and some classic trolling, but nothing concrete has been shared in the past few years.
Seeing how Valve helms some of the biggest multiplayer games ever like Left 4 Dead, Dota 2 and Team Fortress 2, it’s likely that they have their hands full on maintaining those games rather than rushing out a new entry in the Half-Life series, and for that, we cannot blame them.
Bits of leaked concept art showcase a colder environment, and seeing how Aperture’s Borealis research ship is stranded in an Arctic environment and how big of a role it plays in Episode 2, it’s feasible that Gordon Freeman and company would venture out to find it.
Reports claim Half-Life 3 is still in active development and that it will debut of the Source Engine 2 Valve is currently tinkering with, but after all those years, fans are beginning to lose hope. Rise, mister Freeman. Rise, and smell the ashes.
Homefront: The Revolution
Homefront may not have been the best shooter out there, but regardless of its mixed reception, developer THQ had faith in the new IP. Early negotiations arose between THQ and Crytek UK to collaborate on a sequel, which temporarily halted when THQ went bankrupt in December 2012.
Crytek acquired full rights over the franchise, announcing a partership with Deep Silver to develop Homefront: The Revolution, which was targeting a 2015 release date. During its time with the franchise, Crytek changed the premise and the setting, straying away from a linear shooter by placing the player in the semi-open world Philadelphia. In 2014, however, employee mismanagement within Crytek UK led to Homefront developers refusing to work on the project or even dropping out entirely, forcing the branch to sell the IP to Deep Silver parent company Koch Media.
Seeing how Homefront: The Revolution was nicely into development with up to three different developers with various visions, the game ended up being a mix of dysfunctional, underdeveloped mechanics that scored lower than its predecessor.
The IP has now settled in with Koch Media, and it’s likely that a third entry could be a bit more coherent, but whether they will turn Homefront into a trilogy remains to be seen.
The third entry in the Fallout franchise was being developed by Black Isle Studios, who had been in charge of the two previous installations all the same. It closely followed the isometric perspective and post-apocalyptic setting Fallout became known for, but before development was completed, parent company Interplay Entertainment went bankrupt and closed Black Isle Studios.
The game’s license was then sold to role-playing heavy-hitter Bethesda Softworks, who decided to scrap the entire near-finished product and begin anew. Black Isle’s Fallout art director Leonard Boyarsky openly shared his regret about losing the franchise, and seeing how Bethesda was taking the project in a whole new direction, it struck the previous team rather fiercely.
Bethesda officially started work on Fallout 3 in July 2004, albeit that The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and its DLCs were the studio’s priority. They decided very early on to ground the franchise more in reality, dealing with heavier themes and making Fallout 3 less self-aware compared to its predecessors to ensure immersion.
Fallout switched from an isometric tactical game to a full-blown third-to-first-person shooter, and the initial plan was to recreate the entirety of Washington, D.C. Due to the complicated nature and limited hardware at the time, only a portion was recreated, yet it would still be similar in scale as the impressive Oblivion.
When the initial premise was set, development from that point onward went rather fluid, with Bethesda deciding to add more expressive gore and apocalyptic themes like slavery and cannibalism. Fallout 3 hit the shelves in October 2008 to rave reviews, and the series remains a fan-favorite to this day.