OpinionVideo Games

Horizon Is Cool and All, but Where the Hell Is Killzone?

Guerrilla Games where is Killzone after Shadow Fall and Horizon HFW - Sony PlayStation 5 PS5 first-person shooter FPS problem
Image via Guerrilla Games

Though the Microsoft-Activision merger has just been blocked by UK regulators, the acquisition of the house of Call of Duty is far from dead at the moment, and Sony isn’t out of the woods yet. In fact, its big FPS problem won’t vanish if the deal doesn’t go through.

There once was a time when Sony actually had first-party first-person shooters coming out on a regular basis. Mind you, none of them were nearly as popular as Call of Duty, yet they gave the brand’s portfolio variety. For many players, Killzone and Resistance even became reasons on their own to buy a PlayStation 3. If you weren’t crazy about Halo and most of your friends weren’t stuck on Xbox Live, PS3 could do both Call of Duty and Sony’s braver FPS titles, plus the online service was free; it was a pretty sweet deal.

Guerrilla Games where is Killzone after Shadow Fall and Horizon HFW - Sony PlayStation 5 PS5 first-person shooter FPS problem Resistance Insomniac

Image via Insomniac Games

Fast-forward to 2023 and it’s been almost a decade since Sony’s last major FPS release: Killzone Shadow Fall. As an initial showcase of PS4’s power, it was a solid entry, but it wasn’t nearly as well received as the PS3 installments. Still, it was far from being a huge disappointment, yet Sony closed the door on the series and instead encouraged Guerrilla Games to pursue a new IP.

At the time, this decision made sense, since Guerrilla had been stuck playing with the Helghast since the PlayStation 2 era. No company should be stuck for too long working on a single property. However, Killzone didn’t deserve such an unceremonious and silent death.

Seeing a hallmark first-party franchise slowly fade into oblivion for no good reason feels weird. Insomniac’s Resistance series always had more trouble keeping enough folks interested, and the company has had plenty of varied projects in the works since 2011. So the death of Sony’s other big FPS series was easier to digest. Killzone, on the other hand, appears to be a victim of the changing times kickstarted by The Last of Us’s success.

Guerrilla Games where is Killzone after Shadow Fall and Horizon HFW - Sony PlayStation 5 PS5 first-person shooter FPS problem

Image via Guerrilla Games

Naughty Dog’s overpowering triumphs with both Uncharted 3 and The Last of Us at the tail end of the PS3 generation spelled trouble at the Sony camp for anything that wasn’t a cinematic, third-person action-adventure game. These changes in the overall strategy didn’t happen overnight, but it’s easy to follow a through-line since 2013 and for the next 10 years; big-budget experiments became scarcer, some genres were nuked entirely from the portfolio, and Sony doubled down on “prestige” third-person titles that are both self-serious and expensive. While it’s hard to argue against their accomplishments and the median quality of such productions, it feels like a lot of value has been quietly lost over the years.

The gist of the problem isn’t even strictly linked to Sony’s current lack of FPS titles of its own. For example, its world-class platformers – outside of Ratchet & Clank – are nowhere to be found, and now everyone seems to be stuck in the “cinematic mines” for good. Perhaps the most sizable blunder related to this shift was Days Gone, which was artificially inflated to become a AAA experience despite its PS Vita origins and Bend Studio’s lack of experience with an ambitious open-world structure.

Image via Guerrilla Games

Enter Horizon Zero Dawn (still a terrible title) in 2017. While many of its pieces could have been lifted straight from Ubisoft’s modern open-world projects, Guerrilla’s new IP quickly became a hit thanks to its unique setting and a focus on natural exploration and combat against big mechanical creatures that borrowed just the right amount of elements from the Monster Hunter series. It was big and ambitious and accessible; it fit perfectly into Sony’s plans of making the largest and shiniest games in the industry.

Ever since then, Guerrilla has been stuck working on Horizon and nothing else. Even Naughty Dog, the industry’s current pampered child, has stepped out of The Last of Us’s depressing world a couple of times since 2013 and reportedly started work on a new IP. Killzone is out of bounds even though a new Sony-exclusive FPS has never been more needed. We lack knowledge about what’s happening behind the scenes, but it appears that Guerrilla is already jumping straight into Horizon 3 after Forbidden West kept the Sony spark alive last year until God of War Ragnarok came in and crushed some mad numbers.

Image via Naughty Dog

Insomniac should be left out of the first-party FPS conversation entirely, as its main focus is now on Marvel properties and probably a follow-up to 2021’s Ratchet & Clank banger, which is still one of the few true PlayStation 5 exclusives. As for Naughty Dog, it may contribute a half-solution to Sony’s pressing online-oriented problem if the long-teased standalone The Last of Us multiplayer game delivers.

The ongoing drama and bleeding of creatives over at Halo head studio 343 Industries is certainly taking some weight off Sony’s shoulders, plus its bombshell purchase of Bungie back in early 2022 could spawn a shooter big enough to compete against the genre’s current heavyweights. But Sony’s several attempts at blocking the colossal Microsoft-Activision deal suggest it’s terribly afraid of losing all that Call of Duty money before it can get a new FPS giant off the ground.

Guerrilla Games where is Killzone after Shadow Fall and Horizon HFW - Sony PlayStation 5 PS5 first-person shooter FPS problem

Image via Guerrilla Games

I’ve always advocated for easy solutions to big problems over wasting time and money going overboard. While Sony’s acquisition of Bungie should give it a new high-value IP sooner rather than later, there’s a general sentiment that at least some of the answers to this whole “please don’t take away the big shooter” drama lie in its past. More specifically, Killzone is an FPS series that would need few reworks to make a triumphant return, bolstered by its creators’ renewed post-Horizon creative juices and their cutting-edge tech.

The goal here shouldn’t be to go against Halo — which has fallen comatose on its own anyway — or to try to fill a potential gap left by Call of Duty in the next 10 years, but to build up a new generation of AAA shooters that can inject some variety back into Sony’s portfolio. And there’s no need to start rebuilding from scratch when renowned, long-dormant properties are an option.

About the author

Fran Ruiz
Fran J. Ruiz is a freelance writer for The Escapist as well as other gaming, entertainment, and science websites, including VG247, Space, and LiveScience, with a strong focus on features, listicles, and opinion pieces. His wordsmith journey started with Star Wars News Net and its sister site, writing film, TV, and gaming news as a side gig. Once his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English Studies (University of Malaga, Spain) were done, he started collaborating with more and more sites until he became a full-time freelancer on top of an occasional private tutor. There’s no film genre he’s afraid of, but sci-fi and fantasy can win him over easily. Star Wars and Jurassic Park are his favorite stories ever. He also loves the entirety of Lost (yes, even the final season). When it comes to games, Spyro the Dragon and Warcraft III are his all-timers, but he’s the opposite of tied to a few genres. Don’t try to save him from his gargantuan backlog.