When Prey hit the market in 2006, it was a critical and commercial success. Okay, so it might not have been perfect, but its performance made a sequel inevitable.
To start with, at least.
As it happened, a change of ownership (Bethesda Softworks ended up with the rights) and other factors landed Prey 2 in development hell for years. Finally, though, after so long, we’re close to getting our hands on a new Prey game, which aims to restart the franchise by giving us a fresh take on the basic ideas (aliens, FPS, sci-fi).
Arkane Studios look to have done incredible work on Prey, delivering a game that’s eerie, challenging, and unique. Here are five reasons we should all be excited for it …
The Plot Features an Alternate Version of American History
What if President John F. Kennedy had survived the attempt to kill him back in 1963? It’s something countless people have speculated on over the decades, and Prey throws its own two pennies in, creating a strange alternate history of the United States.
In a nutshell, JFK put more money into space exploration, which ends up attracting the Typhon to Earth. This may be an alien race consisting of multiple species, but they’re beaten by a united USA and U.S.S.R., and eventually captured. To contain said aliens, these united nations build Talos I, a slick space station orbiting our moon.
As these things go, experiments into the Typhon begin, and it all goes haywire. A massive corporation (TranStar) buys the station, and scientists soon take control of the Typhon, using their genetics to alter the human brain and make us smarter and stronger than ever.
Anyway, that’s the gist. As you can see, at its core it’s not a million miles away from some other games we’ve seen, but Arkane has taken a bold step in recalibrating American history to explore what the space program might have become had JFK survived.
That alone gives Prey’s narrative a little more weight, and helps to root the more outlandish elements in some kind of relatable reality.
You’re Free to Explore a Huge Open World
Arkane has taken the Metroidvania approach to Prey. Rather than giving us another FPS which follows a traditional mission-based structure, they’ve built a game with an impressive open-ended format.
How so? Your progress is inhibited by locked doors and hazards, and you won’t be able to get through until you’ve upgraded your character (Morgan) with the right Neuromods.
It’s a cool idea, and makes exploring the Talos I feel more real and organic – only strengthening the sense of progression you’ll feel as you overcome challenges.
Your Enemies Will Hide in Plain Sight
The creepy aliens at the heart of the game, the Typhon, come in different types. One of the most common is the Mimic: weird, oozing, black spidery-squid things that have a handy knack of changing shape.
As a result, they’re lucky enough to be able to hide in plain sight. They might be masquerading as a cup or a chair, lurking right in the middle of a room, waiting for you to turn your back. It’s a novel touch, and makes a refreshing change to enemies that come straight for you without any stealth.
However, you’ll actually get to turn the tables on the little blighters yourself. With the Mimic Matter Neuromod, Morgan can disguise himself as various different forms, and move around undetected. While its early stages only allow you to become smaller objects, later Mimic Matter abilities will see you take on the form of turrets and robots.
Your Choice of Upgrades Determine Your Progress
Certain Neuromods allow you access to new areas of the game. The Lift Field, for example, lets you elevate items and enemies up into the air, which means you can create your very own lift to access previously-unavailable spots.
The Kinetic Blast, on the other hand, equips you with a powerful kinetic pulse used to move blockages or hazards aside, to gain access. Leverage is similar, but specialises in lifting heavier objects, while Mindjack gives you control over other humans, presumably to enter rooms Morgan can’t.
The Neuromods you choose will affect where you can go and how soon, so while one player may access one area early on, another may find themselves going down a different path.
You can Play with a Creative Arsenal of Weapons
Every FPS game needs good weapons. While we’ve all seen our fair share of assault rifles, plasma guns, and rocket launchers, Prey is taking a more creative approach to your arsenal.
Of course, with the Neuromods, you effectively become a living weapon anyway, but there’s some great hardware to try. The standout has to be the GLOO Cannon, which sprays powerful glue that sets instantly. You can use this to freeze enemies in place before hitting them with your wrench (or what have you), as well as to build walls or ramps, extinguish fires, block steam vents, and more.
The GLOO Cannon should be a blast to use, as will the Recycler Charge. This is basically a nifty way of gathering raw materials to be used in crafting later on: just toss one into a space with plenty of objects, and it swallows them all to be recycled. It’s also handy to remove obstacles and enemies.
There’s also a Disruptor Stun Gun, which lets you knock out other humans that have been possessed by the Typhon. Not quite as awesome as the other two weapons, granted, but decent nonetheless.
What are you most looking forward to in Prey? Let us know!