One of my favorite things to discover is early previews for Privateer 2: The Darkening, especially those from the press junkets that occurred before the game added a '2' or even a 'Privateer' to the title. Today we've collected two more of these pieces for the archive. Privateer 2 had so much world building early in development and there's so much we've never seen... it can often eke out of the corners of these previews! Additionally, Privateer 2's team was always willing to provide reporters with a plethora of screenshots from their current build which has led to a lot of interesting differences noted in retrospect. More on that in a moment! But first, here's an excellent French preview of 'The Darkening' from the July 1996 issue of Génération 4. This would've been based on the game's showing at E3 that year (the first major reporting happened the previous year during the film shoot).
We also have this odd little preview from the December 1996 issue of Playstation Pro. Despite the late date, this would also be reporting coming off of E3 1996... and it's only here to fill space in a magazine theoretically devoted to the new Playstation console. The article is also obviously idiotic, starting with the bizarre claim that the original Privateer was a real disappointment. Nevertheless, there's something interesting in the screenshots included... can you spot it? (The other two screenshots are from the first cutscene where you speak to Joe the Bartender and the transition outside of the Sinner's Inn.
Two of these screenshots are particularly interesting. We've updated before about early versions of the Buy/Sell screen before with a very early screenshot showing it as the "TRANS-ACT" with a totally different set of ship names. This shot (which we've also found in our press material archive) appears to be a sort of missing link. The old style of ship profile icons is still present and the prices and names don't match the finished version at all... but they're much closer, as is the overall user interface.
Strangest of all, though, is the ship itself. It's absolutely NOT a Jendevi. Of the flyble ships, it is closest to the Kalrechi but not really a match. It seems much closer to the Kindred Blade in a civilian paint scheme. We've previously reported on the connection between the two ships' designations (PL04 Kalrechi vs. PL4B Blade) but there's no absolute connecting lore.
The second screenshot is even more interesting: it seems to show a bulbous-nosed blue Gea Transit-looking transport with the text "Monolith MK II". The hiring UI is slightly different with different types of values listed alongside the transport. Unfortunately, we were not able to locate the source of this exact screenshot...
... but we did some research. First of all, we confirmed that this was not one of the standard Privateer 2 transport slugs by checking the final game. While it looks similar to both of the Gea Transit icons it doesn't match the coloring at all and the closeup views of both are even less similar.
Further investigation revealed a pre-release screenshot that did not match the original but which did feature the same blue transport (in icon form). A second screenshot even shows the same name, Monolith MK II! We also noted that it wasn't the only unusually named transport from early materials: an EA-sponsored PC Zone preview magazine prominently features the "Ilia Mk III". It's possible there were more transports in an earlier build... or that the existing set were simply named differently. Whatever the story, we'll be on the lookout for a higher resolution image of the "Monolith MK II"!