If an Alien: Isolation 2 does get underway, it could stand a streamlined plot, true VR support – including PSVR – and some mechanics changes.
Though the Alien franchise has a decidedly mixed track record, the best game is widely considered to be Alien: Isolation, a 2014 first-person survival horror title by Creative Assembly. It received multiple awards and made many top 10 lists, including those of the all-time best horror games. While a sequel isn’t on the horizon yet, there’s certainly a demand for one and there are several obvious improvements it could make.
The original Alien: Isolation is a direct sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1979 movie, following Amanda Ripley as she visits a remote space station to learn the fate of her mother, Ellen. Unlike most Alien games – or other survival horror offerings, for that matter – the player’s (main) nemesis is just a single creature that’s too dangerous to fight head-on. This not only places an emphasis on stealth, but makes events considerably more frightening by restoring the xenomorph’s status as the “perfect organism” unhindered by “conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality,” as Ash puts it. Without spoiling anything, the ending leaves room for another chapter.
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Alien: Isolation does have its flaws, especially length. At best the main story can be completed in a little over 13 hours, and more realistic playtimes are anywhere between 18 and 22. That’s fine for a lot of games, but in horror, it’s difficult to maintain suspense that long. Much of this playtime is padded out with busywork – fetching, fixing, and crafting items – or fighting less interesting enemies like the Working Joe androids. A simple way of improving Alien: Isolation 2, therefore, would be cutting out some of that fat and concentrating on the world of xenomorphs and corporate hegemony.
What Else Does Alien: Isolation 2 Need To Change?
Alien: Isolation 2 could also use a native VR mode. A third-party PC mod, MotherVR, proved that the original’s gameplay could work with headsets and be an even more immersive experience. It was (and is) limited by an interface originally designed for gamepads and keyboards, but it’s not hard to imagine a tweaked UI solving those problems. It could even prove a watershed moment like Half-Life: Alyx, helping to grow VR’s audience, especially with a second-generation PSVR headset on the way. Some interface enhancements are due for flatscreen players, as well – the first Alien: Isolation‘s in-game menus and controls are a little cumbersome, and save points are too far and few between.
Ultimately, if anyone takes on the task of an Alien: Isolation 2, the biggest obligation may be maintaining or improving the standard of writing. The first game does a mostly admirable job of inserting itself into the Alien canon, capturing the nihilistic mood set in 1979 that most games have failed to follow. With luck, another developer will be allowed to take up the mantle in the next few years.
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