PUBG, the online, multiplayer, battle royale from publisher Krafton, was initially part of a shared fictional universe with upcoming horror game and Dead Space spiritual successor The Callisto Protocol, but this was dropped when linking the two became “difficult” for developer Striking Distance.
Set aboard an isolated space prison, The Callisto Protocol pits you against a range of horrifying creatures, mutated via a mysterious, body-horror-inspired contagion. The combat is designed to be heavy and difficult, with Striking Distance trying to engender fear through feelings of vulnerability and helplessness. Led by Glenn Schofield, the former EA producer who worked on Dead Space, the developer initially aimed to create a shared universe between The Callisto Protocol and PUBG, the online shooter also helmed by publisher Krafton. Speaking to PCGamesN at Gamescom 2022, however, Striking Distance’s chief technology officer Mark James explains that the connection was dropped because it made it “too difficult” to properly tell The Callisto Protocol’s story.
“We looked at the two universes,” James says, “and there were a good 400 years in between both of them. It started to be so large – the connection would have taken away from the Callisto universe. It became so difficult to tell our story and still make that connection. So we were like, ‘we’ve got one game to kind of establish this universe, and we hope to take it forward as, finger crossed, a franchise’, so we spoke to Krafton and said ‘we don’t want to make this part of the PUBG universe anymore.’ And they basically said if you think that’s the right decision for the game, then you don’t have to do it.”
Exactly how PUBG would have linked to the world of The Callisto Protocol is unclear, though given the horror game is set onboard a prison, it’s possible that some of the inmates may have been former contenders in the battle royale, punished for all their maiming and killing. Alternatively, they may have been people who refused to compete in the gigantic deathmatch, and were sent to prison to set an example. Thankfully, there may still be some hints at PUBG hidden in The Callisto Protocol, as James explains the horror game will contain a number of easter eggs.
“There are easter eggs in the game, even easter eggs from previous games,” James explains. “It’s a nice little thing to add in, these little discoverable items. You’re going to discover audio logs from the previous prisoners, scrawlings on the walls, and the more you explore the more you’re going to learn about the origins of the prison.”
The Callisto Protocol launches December 2, and we have already learned, thanks to an exclusive interview with chief creative officer Chris Stone, exactly how it will approach horror and gore. While we wait on its release, though, you might want to check out some of the other best space games, or maybe some of the best horror games on PC, including Alien: Isolation and The Evil Within 2.