Nightdive Studios is still hard at work on a System Shock 2 remaster, and has promised a fully-playable VR mode will be part of the next-gen game.

11:31, 21 Feb 2021

Get ready for a "shock" to the system as Nightdive Studios prepares to deliver its enhanced version of the long-forgotten System Shock 2. If a next-gen version of Irrational Games' award-winning title wasn't enough, developers have confirmed the new and improved System Shock 2 remaster will come with a fully-playable VR mode. Looking at today's games, the System Shock series not only has a spiritual successor in the form of BioShock, but has its themes felt in the likes of Cyberpunk 2077

Heading back to 1999, System Shock 2 continued the legacy that Irrational established with the first game in 1994. As well as being highly influential on both the first-person and horror genres, System Shock 2 was wildly successful and led to plans for System Shock 3 (more on that later). With remakes and remasters being a dime a dozen these days, it's important you stand out from the crowd, and if the System Shock 2 VR mode can deliver even half of what the original game did, it'll be one to watch.


What's going on with the system Shock 2 remaster?

Nightdive first announced System Shock 2: Enhanced Edition in 2019, and even though we don't know exactly how the game will be enhanced, the developer has been slowly feeding us titbits on what to expect. Alongside using the same engine that gave System Shock 4K support, achievements, and improved controls, we're told there will be an overhaul of how co-operative play works. That's fair enough, but the big takeaway is the addition of VR support to take System Shock 2  truly into the sci-fi future it depicts.

Even if VR gaming hasn't quite taken off like the industry would've liked, games like Resident Evil 7 show effective it can be - especially in first-person survival horrors like the System Shock games. A VR mode for the System Shock 2 remaster was teased last month when Nightdive broke its extended silence with an update on the game and what looked like footage of an in-progress VR mode. Now, the studio is here to confirm it as fact.


Speaking to IGN, Nightdive explained that the VR mode will even have its own dedicated team to handle its development. Discussing the next-gen evolution, Nightdive Studios CEO Stephen Kick explained, “During the process of reverse-engineering the missing libraries for System Shock 2, we had an opportunity to play around with the idea of creating a standalone VR version. And so we brought on an [VR] expert to look about the cod and give us a brief idea of what kind of things we could do". More than just a last-minute addition, Kick reiterated the System Shock 2 VR mode comes from an outline for a “really remarkable, built from the ground up VR experience".


What else can we expect from the System Shock 2 remaster?

For those who want to know more, Kick explained how System Shock 2: Enhanced Edition will be playable in VR alongside multiplayer. This means co-op can be played cross-platform with someone on a standard PC playing next to someone in VR on a console. 


To make the most out of the System Shock 2 remaster's VR mode, Kick and the team have been studying other VR games and cited Valve's Half-Life: Alyx as setting the standard. Kick concluded, "[Half-Life: Alyx has] just become essential in creating that feeling that you’re there… Things like being able to pick up items from a distance is something that was really important in Half-Life: Alyx, and it’s something you’ll be able to do in System Shock VR as well". 

At the moment, the System Shock 2 VR mode is only in the prototype stage and expected to release some time after the Enhanced Edition's launch. Sadly, there's no concrete release date on any of the above because Nightdive is due to release System Shock 2 alongside its own full remake of the original. In 2018, the developer started from scratch with its System Shock remake, and while that was tipped for Q1 of 2020, the date has well and truly been and gone. 


Away from all of this, OtherSide Entertainment has supposedly acquired a licence from Nightdive to develop a proper System Shock 3 after the long-mooted threequel has been in development hell since the mid-noughties. Back in the day, System Shock 3 was being toyed with by Ben Wanat and Wright Bagwell, who eventually reworked their idea into the first Dead Space game. The rest, as they say, is history. With so much hype surrounding remasters, remakes, and VR modes, let's hope this isn't just a temporary glitch in the Matrix.


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