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17 years after Hellgate: London fizzled out, one of the original creators is bringing the series back for an all-new 'triple-A' game

 Hellgate: London screenshot - zombies facing the player.
Hellgate: London screenshot - zombies facing the player.

Hellgate: London is the game that will not die. It first launched in 2007 as an action-RPG set in a demon-infested London, but developer Flagship Games went under in 2008 and the game was closed the following year. It re-emerged in 2011 as a free-to-play MMO in South Korea, then took a run at Steam Greenlight in 2014 (which I don't think went anywhere), and then finally launched on Steam several years later, where it continues to get not much attention. And now, for some reason, it's coming back again in Hellgate: Redemption.

Hellgate: Redemption (not the official title but a codename, at least for now) developer Lunacy Games is headed up by Bill Roper, an industry veteran who served as producer, writer, and director on Hellgate: London after a long career at Blizzard. "I’ve dreamed of returning to the franchise we created back in 2007 for many, many years," Roper said. "I’ve always felt I had unfinished business with the Hellgate IP, which is why our codename for the project is Hellgate: Redemption."

Details on the game haven't been announced, but Lunacy said it will be a "triple-A PC/console game" built in Unreal Engine 5 that takes place "in an as-of-yet undisclosed part of the alternate-history, demon-apocalypse world."

"We’re keeping core gameplay and lore elements of Hellgate: London in our current design," Roper said, "but our intent is to build an exciting new experience that takes advantage of the numerous advances the industry has seen over the past 17 years since the original game launched."

Hellgate: London wasn't a terrible game by any stretch: It holds a respectable 70% aggregate score on Metacritic and sold just under a million copies, which wasn't bad for the time. And we found quite a bit to like when we reinstalled it a decade ago.

Hellgate: London made a big cinematic splash at E3 in 2006.

But it wasn't quite ready for the spotlight at launch: In a 2013 interview with Edge (via Wayback Machine), developer Max Schaefer—like Roper, a veteran of early Blizzard games including Diablo—said rushed development resulted in a lack of polish and clunky storytelling, while its economic model, which included a singleplayer campaign, free multiplayer, and subscription-based premium multiplayer, was "jumbled and confusing."

"One of our regrets with the Diablo series was that it was kind of ‘fire and forget’," Schaefer said at the time. "We did one expansion, but that was it. We missed out on an opportunity to grow the game, and grow the universe as much as we wanted.

"So with Hellgate, we didn’t want to do that. We wanted it to be something we’d grow over time. For instance, we wanted to leave London and visit major cities throughout the world."

That was more than 10 years ago, and it's been more than 17 years since Hellgate: London first appeared, but apparently that dream dies hard—which is as good a reason as any for bringing back a series that's mainly remembered as a curiosity, when it's remembered at all. Maybe this time around, it'll work.