Ever since we left the controlled confines of Bullworth Academy, fans have been begging to continue the story of Jimmy Hopkins in a potential Bully 2. Known as Canis Canem Edit in the UK, it’s been almost 13 years since the first game, and it has been a long and tease-filled road for the Bully-obsessed. In this article we’re going to gloss over the rumors and confirmed comments about Bully 2, then talk about what we’d like to see in the game if it does become a reality.
Bully 2 rumors
The first allusion to Bully 2 was in 2009 when Bully composer Shawn Lee told The Gaming Liberty that he was set to work on it in an interview. The page is now archived but you can check it out here thanks to the Wayback Machine. “Yes. It looks like I will be doing the soundtrack for Bully 2 in the not so distant future….” was the quote, which as you can expect set the Bully fandom ablaze.
The fire was then stoked by interviews with Rockstar co-founder Dan Houser, who told Gamasutra (quoted in an archived CVG article here) that the property is one that Rockstar adores and “might come back to in the future” following the development of Max Payne 3, which launched back in 2012.
Bully 2 concept art
After a long period of silence, there was a concept art leak in mid-2017, easily the most substantial and believable bit of Bully 2 yet. Rockstar didn’t comment on the widely reported leak, which was posted onto Imgur and Twitter by Bully2Info.
It shows a number of characters that look ripped straight out of Bully’s universe, including your typical dork, a veteran survivalist based on Jack Torrance from The Shining, goths, clowns, moonshine-drinking moms and dodgy-looking tennis players. The concept art also showcased a pocket of rural American suburbia, with leaks suggesting a change in location for the sequel. A collection of as of yet unsubstantiated rumors can be found on the /R/Bully 2 Reddit, where it is claimed the sequel was going to have Jimmy living with his stepfather after the events of the first game, visiting a summer camp and dealing with step-siblings. It is not clear whether the project was cancelled or if it’s still in development now.
Bully 2 2020 rumors
Fast forward to this year then, and all of a sudden there’s been a number of Bully 2 teases out in the wild. In Red Dead Redemption 2, one of the game’s more toothy side quests rewards the player with the Calloway Revolver which has Canis Canem Edit engraved on the side (Bully’s official title in the UK.)
Absolutely a reach, but then the GTA Online Casino update occurred, adding a painting into the game also titled Canis Canem Edit. The painting depicts the animals on the Bullworth Academy crest, and it was created by a fictional artist named Matthew Morse, suggesting a Morse code signal hidden in the painting. Stranger things have turned out to be true what with the Chiliad Mystery, so who knows. Pinewood Studios were also casting for a number of video game VO roles that sounded suspiciously like Bully 2, but this was quickly debunked by the casting director herself. Many insiders and sources claim that the game is coming in 2020, but there is very little concrete proof so far, just rumors, hearsay and speculation.
Bully 2 wishlist
1. Learn from past Rockstar games
Since Bully, we’ve had GTA 4 and GTA 5, LA Noire, two Red Dead Redemption games and even Max Payne 3. There’s a lot to learn from here, and many parts of the tried and tested open-world formula that has since been iterated upon that could work really well within the world of Bully. The most obvious one is Red Dead Redemption 2’s chatter systems, where you can walk back or escalate conflict at the tap of a button, or simply greet every NPC on the map. This was revolutionary for open-world games and would work perhaps even better within a setting like Bully, where antagonism is the name of the game. The original game had something similar to this where you could humiliate enemies or calm them down, but it was fairly rigid. The strides taken since the game’s initial release could make for a new ambient dialogue system that really elevates the interactivity and immersion.
2. Take us to a rich new setting
The map in Bully was really ambitious for the time, with multiple interconnected estates and sections of town which Jimmy was able to explore, from the Carnival to the Academy, and even an Asylum.
Yet ever since, Rockstar’s map’s have ballooned in size and achieved worlds of remarkable scope, always upping the ante with vast biomes and entire cities simulated in real-time. If we believe the leaks that point to a rural American setting, that would be a nice disconnect from the claustrophobia of Bullworth which dominated the original game. Perhaps if time has moved on there will be a full bustling college campus to orbit around, albeit with surrounding suburbia, student housing, shops and nightlife to explore. Wouldn’t it be great to see Bully 2 set in the UK though?!
3. Add more period-appropriate factions
We just don’t know when the game (if it exists) will be set right now, but given that Bully occurred during the 90s to early aughts, the game might transport us to a world closer to ours right now, perhaps with an older Jimmy or a completely new protagonist who has to deal with new subcultures and factions. Sure, the Bullies, Preppies, Greasers, Nerds, Jocks and Townies were well-done and interesting, but they were very old-school. There is so much potential for new cliques now. Emos, Goths, Scene Kids, Skaters, Hipsters, even Influencers and modern social media and YouTube/Twitch celebrities might get a look in. With Rockstar’s writing style, no doubt many teenagers are going to be lampooned if this game sees the light of day.
4. Multiple protagonists
Jimmy Hopkins is an interesting character… despite what many may expect, he’s not really your typical bully. He has some sort of moral code, and only really doles out the beatings to those who deserve it. In fact, over the course of the game, he comes to defend many and uproot the dangerous behavior of the cliques, even if that does make him fall foul of the staff at Bullworth. His hero’s journey is kind of over by the end of the game, and he’s not just a barefaced bully anymore. Perhaps Rockstar could step in and replace him to offer another lens on the teenage experience. They’ve proved they can nail multiple protagonists with Grand Theft Auto 5, so perhaps we’ll see teenagers at different stages of social degeneracy available to the player. One leak mentioned step-siblings, so perhaps that is where Rockstar is looking to experiment. A dissection of the many ways school bullies are made and reformed would be good, rather than the same privately educated kid that we all know by now. Even so, if Red Dead Redemption 2 proves anything, its that a sequel can be a prequel, so who knows!
5. Mischief mechanics
The first game was littered with mechanics to help Jimmy cause chaos at Bullworth, from slingshots to stink bombs and bags of marbles to trip Jocks up. Yet if the game does jump forward to University, there’s scope to implement almost Persona-esque side rackets and jobs, as well as new throwable objects, weapons and mediums of engagement to make a name for yourself on campus. We’ve seen in GTA Online and Chinatown Wars that Rockstar know how to give players side jobs like running their own companies, nightclubs and motorcycle gangs.
No doubt there’ll be some sort of allusion to drug use and sale if Bully 2 sees the light of the day, especially if it decides to make the jump to college. In any case, a new suite of mischief mechanics, from 4K 60 FPS swirlies to paper aeroplanes and everything in between would really add some depth to the game. Naturally, there were no guns in Bully, so Rockstar had to get experimental with the limitations, and it worked really well, with ridiculous weapons like bags of dog poop, potato cannons and dodgeballs making the cut. The mind races as to what could come up with for the sequel.