Fun Fact: We Almost Had Two New Games in the Alien Franchise!
They Mostly Come at Night. Mostly.
Maybe it’s a “not-so-fun fact,” especially after The Creative Assembly further proved that there is still life in Ridley Scott’s tired cinematic franchise with Alien: Isolation. In a Twitter exchange, former Epic alum Cliff Bleszinski and 3D Realms vice president Frederik Schreiber both revealed how the acquisition of 20th Century Fox devoured two new Alien titles.
The former lead designer of Gears of War revealed briefly that before his development studio, Boss Key Productions, shut down in 2018, he was in talks with Fox for a new game in the Alien franchise. Ignoring all movies after Aliens, the game would have featured a grown Newt in a fight against Xenomorphs weaponized by Weyland-Yutani in an Earth facility. Bleszinski described on Twitter that Ellen Ripley was set to return, serving as the player’s guide (a la Halo's Cortana). He later clarified that he was drawing inspiration from the popular Dark Horse comics series.
Then along came news of Fox’s search for buyers. Though Boss Key closed down before Disney acquired Fox, a bidding war had been going on since late 2017, potentially forcing many projects, like Bleszinski’s, to the sidelines. Of course, the poor sales of LawBreakers that led to the closure of Boss Key Productions likely would have ended the project anyway. As disappointing as this is, Bleszinski’s Alien game wasn’t the only casualty of Disney’s directive to absorb everything in its path.
In response to Bleszinski’s revelation, Frederik Schreiber jumped in with his own tale of woe. According to his tweet, 3D Realms was in the pre-production stages of a game titled Aliens: Hadleys Hope.
Seeming like a mix of Left 4 Dead and Evolve, Schreiber shared that the title was a PvE multiplayer game that pit colonists and marines against Xenomorph Queens. Development was to be helmed by 3D Realms and Slipgate Ironworks. The tweet goes on to describe Hadleys Hope as a “Storyworld-driven PvE multiplayer adventure shooter dripping with atmosphere, lore, and suspense.”
Those familiar with the Alien franchise likely recognize the name “Hadleys Hope” as the mining colony and research facility on LV-426 in Aliens. Though we only ever saw one alien Queen in James Cameron’s sequel, the multiplayer title would have featured multiple oversized Xenomorphs, all desperately trying to protect their hives.
Queens wouldn’t have been the only enemy romping around LV-426, either. Before even facing off against the matriarch, players would blast through multiple levels of Xenomorph Protectors. Schreiber didn’t get too much deeper into details, but it’s safe to assume staple marine armaments like the iconic Pulse Rifle and M56 Smartgun would have been at player disposal.
This exchange of exciting ideas is all made infinitely more frustrating considering the limbo that yet another upcoming Aliens title has found itself in. The Alien MMO in development at Cold Iron Studios may be in jeopardy as Disney recently sold the developer to mobile games publisher, Scopely. According to GamesIndustry.biz, the sale did not include Disney IPs, which means the MMO’s developer was sold off with no word of someone stepping in to take up the mantle. The only glimmer of hope right now is that Cold Iron has yet to remove any mention of the Alien shooter from its website and is still looking for developers and QA testers.
As devastating as all of this may be to a die-hard Alien fan, it’s far from the first time they’ve been left disappointed. Bleszinski’s untitled Alien game and Hadleys Hope join a list of cancelled titles, including the highly anticipated Aliens: Colonial Marines. That’s right, the travesty we received in 2013 from Gearbox Software was an entirely different animal from the squad-based shooter cancelled in 2002.