I Can See You, Hacker - System Shock 3 is on the horizon!

System Shock 3 is on the horizon.

System Shock is 25 years old, and it’s sequel System Shock 2 is one of the most lauded games of all time. Despite not being a commercial success, it’s a game that’s still constantly cited as inspiration and influence. The original System Shock has a crowdfunded remake in the works that has faced major setbacks after having to scrap a lot of work deep into production. The Bioshock franchise and Arkane’s Prey have both been considered spiritual successors to the franchise.

Meanwhile, Otherside Entertainment (founded by Paul Neurath, a Looking Glass alumni) acquired the license for System Shock 3, and were even able to get original System Shock co-directors Doug Church and Warren Spector involved with. And now, 20 years after System Shock 2, we’re finally getting to see footage of the official follow-up in action.

[CW for gore and body horror]

Now, to be accurate, the first footage we saw of System Shock 3 was actually a couple of months ago back in April. Graphics programmer Elizabeth Legros and creative director Warren Spector showed up at Unity’s GDC keynote to show System Shock 3 running on the Unity engine. (see here) (EDIT: Here’s that trailer by itself.) Still, this the first footage of what we’ll be playing we’ve been able to see!

So… what do you think?

How do you feel about the art direction? Since that’s a great deal of what we’ve been able to see has to do with the visuals, what do you think?

And what about the gameplay? While we’ve only seen snippets, and it’s in pre-alpha, there’s still some interesting information there!

Does the narrative seem interesting to you? It appears to be set in 2085, well before the events of System Shock 2 but about a decade after the events of the first game. What do you expect or think?

What would you want or expect from System Shock 3? We all have a wishlist for these kinds of releases. What’s yours?

Alternatively, what would you hate if it was in System Shock 3? I can definitely think of a few things that would sour my experience! What about you?

Can System Shock 3 possibly live up to the hype? The legacy of System Shock 2 is almost impossible to ignore. Can it escape its shadow?

Let me know what you think!


Honestly really impressed by the art direction; the environments and lighting look really sharp and some of those enemy designs are perfect. Those basic zombie-type guys look a tad bland though, reminds me of that article Rob wrote about how the lo-fi models & textures of enemies in SS2 makes them more terrifying than if they were in HD.

Honestly just hoping the gameplay and level design is good enough to make me feel like I did playing SS2 (which was a long time ago). Curious to see where they go with the RPG / immersive sim aspects.

Using a face-mapping photo morph technique for SHODAN’s face animations, is such a gruesomely effective creative choice.

Can we date SHODAN in this one? She’s honestly everything I’ve wanted in a partner.

First impression is serious Quake 2 vibes: the conveyor belts of people being turned into cyborgs, darkness and heavy music.

Would love a story with interesting ideas as far as Shodan and artificial intellegnce go. Something beyond an AI wanting to replace humanity.

Maybe a return to the idea of navigating cyberspace, which didn’t make it to SS 2.

I hope they aren’t shooting themselves in the foot by making it a prequel. It’s so hard to get past getting boxed in by a preset conclusion…all of the Star Trek prequels have thrown in time travel to get around this.

i know next to nothing about system shock except that shodan is absolute wife material and i;m gay


If I’m honest I don’t love the extremely game-ass looking lighting and shader work. It reminds me of Sabre Interactive’s Halo: Anniversary remake, which while technically and feature-wise was exactly what I like to see in a purely visual remake, looked gaudy and artificial.

That being said, it’s a small team. It’s unfair to hold it up against something like Prey (2017) and expect to do something as stylish with the same basic concept of Spaceship with Bad shit happening.

I think one of the key themes around System Shock was investigating that transhumanist question around cybernetic enhancements, biology, and what makes one human. Interesting to see some enemies that look more like bio-experiments rather than just cybernetic monstrosities. Shock 2 kind of had The Many and Shodan as two competing viewpoints. Shodan is the star, of course, but I’d be interested to know if there are other “factions” in this tale.

A blacksite science facility with dark corridors and vents is good news, imho. Dense, complex interiors is part of the tension. The heavy metal music and focus on action I’m hoping is more just for the trailer. I’d prefer more of that quiet tension. This isn’t supposed to be Doom.

Honestly I’m excited to see this get made, but I don’t feel like it has been some long anticipated title that has a lot of hype baggage. In many ways Bioshock was a spiritual successor, and then you have Deux Ex, and more recently Prey. I want to see Shodan implemented well, here. But there’s a lot of ways for that to happen.

wife is. sc ary

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So it’s come to this…


the trailer looks alright, but it’s really hard to say how it will actually end up i think given how underworld ascendant turned out. that game still feels like it needs another six months in the oven after a year of patches. (of course it’s entirely possible that it ended up how it did because they were putting most of their focus on system shock 3, so who knows!)

either way i think there’s no way it’ll live up to the hype. even if its the best rpg of $releaseyear, you can’t beat two decades of nostalgia and “look at me i have good taste” forum posts, especially in a genre as Hardcore Gamer as immersive sims. that’s not an issue of the game itself, obviously, it just has ridiculously big shoes to fill and i can’t really see an indie studio being able to pull that off.

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Yeah, and I’m also in this space where, Prey was honestly everything I could have wanted from a System Shock 3. Maybe not the SHODAN-fleeing, cyberpunk-nightmare follow-up, but I feel it was a sublime addition to the immersive sim genre. Bioshock, not so much, but hey, they can’t all be winners.

I think a way they might be sidestepping it, intentionally or not, is that this game seems to be drawing a lot from the original 1994 System Shock rather than the sequel. Specifically, the fact that it’s set decades before System Shock 2, and I can see cyber-reavers in the trailer. After all, Spector wasn’t a director on the second game, and Doug Church apparently was a massive part of the designing the systems of the original.
Either way, it’s another reason to bump the original game up on my “To Play” list.

One thing I am curious about is that in interviews and talks about this game with Warren Spector (which is most of the information we have right now), he’s said: he wants every project he works on to have something we’ve never seen before, and that yes, System Shock 3 has something “no-one’s ever seen or done before”. I have absolutely no idea what that means. But it’s got me curious.


GameSpot recently put out an interview with Warren Spector. Just wanted to drop this link in for anyone interested.

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Much much later - thanks for sharing!
The “playstyle matters” idea really resonated with me. The concept of allowing the player to engage with the game the way they want made me think of how the original Uncharted rubbed me the wrong way because it was designed around stop and pop shooting, and I just wanted to vault over cover with the shotgun and get messy at close range.

I think there’s a little nuance there between the way some immersive sims feel like they’re delivering a checklist of “Here’s the stealth option, here’s the conversation option, here’s the shooter option” but I’m all on board with supporting the broadest possible ways to play.

While not System Shock 3 itself, they just put out a demo for the System Shock remake. You can find it on the Steam page. It’s up for the next 48 hours.

It looks pretty good so far, though my computer can’t really run it acceptably. Though, now that I’ve been playing (almost finished with) the original System Shock, I’m not sure if I will end up grabbing this. It’s definitely worth playing if the absolutely arcane controls of the original put you off. It’s a much more spooky tone compared to going back to it, too. There’s also a really cool reorchestration of the old music in there??? Worth checking out!!

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No News link for the System Shock remake story that went up on Friday?

Also are we really out here not acknowledging Natalie’s stealth return to the site? Like the protagonist in an immersive sim, Natalie silently rummages through the website, leaving only hot takes in her wake.


It’s such a great read, too! Always happy to see Natalie on the byline. I also think Natalie keys in on what makes SHODAN such a memorable villain, even decades later. I hope the remake introduces more players to the original System Shock, which, despite aging quite poorly, has a lot of quality underneath the dust. There’s a lot of great ideas and play in between the messy bits, but I know it’s unplayable for some folks. Hopefully this will offer a way for folks to engage with it from a modern perspective!

I have no clue what the “thing-nobody-has-seen-before” is, but what I would be ecstatic for would be if SHODAN manifested as a more mechanical presence in System Shock 3. Natalie talks a lot about how SHODAN is this all-encompassing foe who is anticipating your every move. I would love for her to become a villain who almost orchestrates the environment and enemies around you. To really accentuate that dynamic and how we perceive SHODAN. But hey, probably a pipe dream.

There has been a thread on Resetera that started in December claiming layoffs at Otherside. The thread has been bubbling along with updates over January, but news sites are starting to pick up the story since the OP claimed Jason Schreier confirmed the layoffs via DM.

The main sources are updated Linkedin profiles and twitter profiles of key roles listing their involvement under past projects, which seems pretty reliable. Sad times.

Damn. It sounds like some pretty major project leads had to leave, too. That really, really sucks. I can remain hopeful, but that’s a pretty rough turn of events.

I’ve been torn on SS3, because I have had a hard time envisioning it releasing and not being a modernized “follow the floating waypoint that leads you around by the nose” kind of experience. Prey had some of that floating waypoint-itis and that really took much of the “Shock” out of it for me.