Available on Xbox One, PS4 and PC in 2017
Marcus Cole got to see a 15-minute hands-off presentation of Prey at Gamescom 2016. Here are his initial thoughts.
10 years ago, Human Head Studios released Prey – a first person shooter that let players experience tight gunplay inside an alien infested spaceship. A sequel had been in the works for several years, but after troubled development, it was cancelled. However this year saw the game’s resurrection, with Bethesda and Arkane Studios (makers of Dishonored) unveiling a title that takes the idea behind Prey to entirely new places.
Prey is set aboard the space station Talos 1, with Morgan Yu taking centre stage. Little is currently known about Morgan, though we’re told you’ll uncover the character’s past as the story unfolds. From the moment the preview begins it’s apparent something has gone terribly wrong. Corridors are empty, pieces of debris litter each room, and everything is quiet.
Related: Dishonored 2 preview
While Prey takes the form of a first person shooter, the carefully crafted single player story sees the player uncover the mysteries of Talos 1, and find out exactly what has happened to the spacecraft and it's crew. It’s focus is on atmosphere and intrigue, and it all begins with the setting. A clear graphical style is adopted in a similar way to the Dishonored games, and it looks fabulous. It’s very bright and futuristic, with detailed environments that beautifully portray a space station in disarray. On the inside you’ll find a variety of electronic consoles emitting sparks, with the outside of the station showing signs of serious damage. Morgan’s spacesuit allows you to traverse through the vacuum, and venturing outside shows a truly mesmerizing view of the planets and stars. A sense of isolation is at the heart of Prey, and the chilling mood is reminiscent of the 2009 film Moon.
Prey’s gameplay revolves around its core shooting mechanics, as Morgan can wield a variety of guns and weapons, using them in creative ways. Weapons are rare in Talos 1, though players will find themselves with an ace up their sleeve – Neuromods. These special abilities enhance Morgan’s strength and give various powers, with examples including the ability to unleash an intense blast of flames, or the power to transform into various objects around the room. We’re shown an access panel inside a locked enclosure, and there’s no way for any human to gain access.
Fortunately Morgan isn’t all that human anymore, and in rather comic fashion he transforms into a nearby coffee cup, and rolls into the control room through a small gap. It’s explained that Morgan will have a large variety of abilities, and each Neuromod contains a unique alien power. In order to acquire the power contained within, Morgan must inject his eyeball with each new Neuromod he finds. Acquired abilities can be combined with weapons or other abilities to solve unique puzzles, or help take down the alien threat.
The aliens themselves are mostly thin shadow-like creatures, though they can can shapeshift into many forms. It will require creative thinking to take down large groups without becoming overwhelmed. Confrontations can be tackled in a variety of ways, and this is something Arkane are happy to compare to the player choices found in Dishonored. Prey offers plenty of autonomy in each situation, with multiple solutions to each conundrum. The GLOO gun for example, can be used to create climbable ledges on walls, allowing Morgan to climb up to otherwise unreachable locations. Abilities can also be used in creative ways, as players can use the mimic ability to sneak past alien patrols; or use the Leverage ability (the ability to pick up heavy items) to throw large objects at enemies.
While finding new weapons is rare, the game does have an interesting crafting system. You’ll find scrap throughout Talos 1, combining them by de-constructing objects & structures with special grenades known as ‘Recycle Charges’. Scrap can then be turned into weapons and useful items at fabricator stations located within the station. Guns appear to be upgradable, which again grants the player freedom to advance in a way that works with their play style. I’m sure we’ll get more details on this system over the coming months.
There’s an eerie vibe within Prey. The mystery behind Morgan and Talos 1 leaves many unanswered questions, and players will be able to uncover the answers next year. Arkane are creating a game that relies on atmosphere, mystery and clever script writing, and if they manage to pull it off, we could have classic title in our midst.
While it bears no immediate relationship to the original, Prey looks to give players an immersive sci-fi experience. The lonely setting is set to give players a real sense of isolation, and the puzzles Morgan must face to succeed ought to give players a challenge. It’s still early days, but Prey seems to be shaping up very nicely indeed.
Prey will release in 2017 on Xbox One, PS4 and PC.