Phil Spencer wants to see classic FPS Hexen return, and the System Shock remake dev wants to do it: "my team are very well suited for the job"

First-person view of hands shooting lightning at enemies in a screenshot from Hexen.
(Image credit: id Software)

Xbox boss Phil Spencer wants to see the classic Hexen series return, and one developer took the opportunity to say they’re “very well suited” to make it happen. 

Speaking on the Official Xbox Podcast, Phil Spencer expressed his desire to bring back some dormant series that have been untouched and neglected for years. That back catalog essentially doubled overnight when Microsoft closed the deal on its Activision Blizzard acquisition - and Spencer had one particular series in mind: Hexen.

“When’s Hexen coming back? That's what people want to know,” Spencer quipped during the podcast. Hexen - an indirect sequel to the even older Heretic - was a first-person shooter from 1995 where you’d use finger magic, rather than guns, to blast baddies. The series carried over the tangled level design and bloody style of Doom, but you instead played as one of three magical classes. Think along the lines of Doctor Strange (or maybe this year’s Immortals Of Aveum), but cooler.

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Spencer’s throwaway joke attracted the attention of Samuel Villareal, the lead engine developer at Nightdive Studios. “Just letting you know,” Villareal responded on Twitter, “having a long-running history and extensive knowledge with Heretic and Hexen, just want to point out that me and my team are very well suited for the job. Just saying”

Nightdive Studios are the developers behind this year’s incredible System Shock remake, but the team has revived countless PC classics over the years - between Turok, Blade Runner, and the upcoming Star Wars: Dark Forces remaster. Though Nightdive’s most recent project was surprisingly the Quake 2 remaster, which was a joint effort with other Xbox-owned studios, id Software and Machine Games. So there’s at least a history between the two companies. 

To make matters even more fitting, Spencer himself namedropped the Quake 2 remaster as an example of how to bring back classics in the right way. “I thought [Quake 2 remaster] was awesome,” he noted. “They did a real good job revisiting a game, making it current, but also not leaving the history behind. So I’d love to see more things like that.

Spencer continued: “I tease about things like Hexen just because I remember playing it as a kid. I have no plan for that, but I do think when you look across all of the franchises that are part of our teams, there’s an opportunity for us to go back, even if it’s just to recognize the moment and what those things meant in gaming’s history.” The stars certainly seem aligned for Hexen’s cursed resurrection since we have both a fitting developer and an eager executive, but we’ll just need to sit tight before anything becomes really real.

In the meantime, here are the upcoming Xbox Series X|S games we know are in development.

Freelance contributor

Kaan freelances for various websites including Rock Paper Shotgun, Eurogamer, and this one, Gamesradar. He particularly enjoys writing about spooky indies, throwback RPGs, and anything that's vaguely silly. Also has an English Literature and Film Studies degree that he'll soon forget.