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BioShock creator calls canned FPS “the best game we never got to make”

BioShock creator Ken Levine calls his canceled co-op zombie shooter Division 9 the best game he and his team never got the chance to make.

BioShock Division 9 cancellation: a man in a massive diving suit with a drill for an arm, stood in an underwater art deco hallway

The director and creator of the original BioShock calls the studio’s canceled co-op survival horror shooter the best game the team never got to make, as he and his slimmed-down studio continue to work on the BioShock-inspired sci-fi FPS Judas.

BioShock creator Ken Levine calls Division 9, the Irrational Games co-op survival horror FPS game, similar in concept to Left 4 Dead, one of the best things he never got to make, after a video of early footage of the shooter has once again done the rounds online.

After directing and conceptualizing BioShock and BioShock Infinite at Irrational Games (formerly known as 2K Boston), Levine downsized the studio and rebranded it to Ghost Story Games in 2017 and began work on Judas, an upcoming narrative shooter with some key similarities to BioShock.

Back in the mid-2000s, though, Levine and Irrational were working on a game called Division 9. “This, no doubt, is the best game we never got to make,” Levine says in response to a tweet from X/Twitter account Obscure Game Aesthetics. You can watch a video on Division 9 narrated by Levine below.

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“The reason we were frustrated with zombie games at the time was they never had the sense that you got for Dawn of the Dead, because there was really only Resident Evil at that time,” Levine tells Game Informer in a 2010 interview. “That there was this group of survivors and they had to gather resources. They’d lock themselves up in the mall, and then be like ‘Oh, s***. We don’t have any food. We have to go out into the world and take these risks.’ And that was the game design, basically.

“You have a group of survivors and these resources. You’d have to take on risks to get more supplies, ammo, and people. You sort of build up your group of survivors.”

If that sounds an awful lot like Valve’s colossal 2008 hit Left 4 Dead, you’d be right in thinking so. If Division 9 came to fruition it may very well have been released before Valve’s Left 4 Dead too, but sadly we don’t live in the universe where that happened.

Division 9 started out as SWAT 5, a sequel to Irrational’s tactical FPS series that was given an infected spin, but situational issues stopped it from ever seeing the light of day.

“We had a week to put together a demo, and we saw an opportunity there, and we actually sold it to Vivendi,” Levine adds. “They were ready to buy it, but we had just sold the company to Take-Two. I think we would have been very successful with it. It would have come out around the same time as BioShock, maybe a little sooner.”

While we’ll likely never get to play Division 9, you can still play some great co-op games with friends today, alongside some excellent zombie games too.

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