In the void left by Alien Isolation 2 (one day, one day), anything connected to the world of xenomorphs immediately makes my ears prick up, especially when it’s connected to Obsidian and RPG games. Turns out that Aliens Crucible, which the Fallout New Vegas, Pentiment, and The Outer Worlds developer was creating back in the mid ‘00s, ended up on the shelf owing to “a lot of dysfunction” within the studio itself, and publisher Sega preferring Obsidian’s other concept, the often-overlooked espionage shooter Alpha Protocol – though some of Obsidian’s ideas are apparently visible in Aliens Fireteam Elite.
Josh Sawyer, long-standing director and design lead at Obsidian, shares new information regarding the abandoned Aliens Crucible, which began life in 2006, but was cancelled in 2009. Sawyer describes how the hierarchy within Obsidian created “dysfunction,” and the team faced difficulty when it came to creating working levels.
“Obsidian didn’t have directors at that time, just leads who were all considered peers,” Sawyer says. “It resulted in a lot of dysfunction when the leads didn’t agree on how to do something. Progress on the game was very slow, especially when it came to creating workable game levels.
“We had another game in development with Sega at the time, Alpha Protocol, and Sega (understandably, in my opinion) shelved Aliens in favour of Alpha Protocol,” Sawyer continues. “There were a lot of cool ideas in the works, but you don’t ship ideas. The biggest lesson I learned from the experience is that if you don’t have playable levels, you don’t have much of a game (there are some exceptions, of course).”
Sawyer’s comments on Aliens Crucible are a little different to Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart’s, who in a now-removed 2010 article told Joystiq that the Aliens RPG “looked and felt like it was ready to ship.” You can see footage of Aliens Crucible, courtesy of YouTube channel Aliens Versus Predator Galaxy, below:
Nevertheless, Sawyer says that some of the spirit of Crucible lives on in the squad shooter Aliens Fireteam Elite, which launched in 2021 from Cold Iron Studios.
“I was happy to play Aliens Fireteam Elite because the overall setup was similar,” Sawyer says. “small team, third-person, with an emphasis on deployables and support actions. The similarities ended there, but it was nice to see the idea could actually be fun in practice.”
If you’re a big Aliens fan, and still hoping one day for Alien Isolation 2, check out some of the best horror games. You might also want to try the best open-world games, if you want something to replace Crucible, or maybe take a look at the best upcoming games arriving in 2023.