Forget 2011, that Prey is dead. We’re talking about new, new Prey, which delivers on the promise it showed when it was originally announced back at E3, 2016. If you were a fan of Bioshock and System Shock 2, you’ll feel right at home with Prey.
Here are the best first-person shooters that are already out and can’t be cancelled.
Arkane Studio’s Prey is an immersive sim set aboard the retrofuturistic space station Talos 1. As Morgan Yu – whether you’re male or female is up to, well, you – you wake to find only a horde of menacing aliens for company. Menacing aliens who can turn themselves into cups of tea and office chairs.
Prey release date
Prey PC performance
If, after the Dishonored 2 debacle, you’re worried about the performance of Arkane’s latest, we’re happy to reassure you.
In fact, Prey performs remarkably well on PC – even on maximum settings we found consistent frame rates of 90+ on mid-tier hardware. If Dishonored’s tech put you off, we highly encourage you to give Arkane another chance: Prey feels like a true PC game.
Prey is set in 2032, in an alternative timeline where John Kennedy was never assassinated and went on to invest heavily in the space program. 69 years on and one of Kennedy’s space stations is still in orbit around Earth’s moon. It’s a vessel that’s been renovated countless times, leading to a clash of styles and designs from different eras all bolted on top of one another. It’s aboard this space station that protagonist Morgan Yu finds himself.
The video below gives greater insight into the events leading up to the game and the origins of the space station – Talos I – as well as the two purposes it serves: containment and research.
In the year 2032, you mysteriously awaken on Talos I, a high-tech space station, and all is not well. The station is deserted but for a number of extremely hostile aliens called Typhons, which possess the ability to hide in plain sight, taking on the appearance of everyday objects like potted plants and monitors. Think Garry’s Mod Prop Hunt, but scary. The only aim is to survive; making it back to Earth will place fairly high on Yu’s list of priorities.
Morgan Yu is or has been the subject of experimentation, not by the aliens on board the Talos I, but by his fellow man. The exact nature of these experiments is unknown at the outset. Players can also pick the gender of Yu at the start of the game and both versions are fully voiced.
Surviving and evolving are central to Prey’s gameplay. Players are faced with the task of fending off their alien adversaries aboard a non-military space station, which will involve using crude objects found around the environment and any light arms they come across.
Prey involves mastering some of the alien abilities, like being able to embody inanimate objects around the space station.
As with Corvo’s powers in Dishonored, you can customise Yu’s abilities to better suit your style of play. To do this you’ll have to find Neuromods, small devices which allow Yu to learn Typhon abilities. One small caveat though: these devices involve injecting yourself in the eye, which is fairly harrowing in first-person.
Also like Dishonored, the player can approach gameplay however they wish. Don’t fancy the next room? There’s probably an alternative route, although you might miss out on some useful resources.
Prey features a number of spacewalks, where the player will be able to explore the exterior of Talos I in a spacesuit, using thrusters to move about and having to monitor their oxygen supplies at all times.
It also incorporates a number of gameplay elements that focus on survival, with weapon degradation and a “trauma system”- think leg-breaks from big falls and severe burns from, well… hot things.
There are also human survivors on the station, but they’re rare. Once you encounter them, they can be killed by aliens (or by you…) and the game will keep going, so their role isn’t essential to your progress (as in, say, Half-Life).
As if Prey’s RPG, stealth, and survival elements weren’t enough to slake your gameplay thirst, there’s also a crafting component that you’ll have to wrap your head around – though as it’s Arkane in charge, the crafting is seamlessly integrated and easy to understand.
The first thing to be aware of is the Recycler. Once you find one of these machines there’s a bin to the lower left where you can dump any unwanted junk and transform it into one of four crucial components: Synthetic, Mineral, Organic, and Exotic. You can then put these materials towards crafting new weapons and neuromods. Each item you scrap usefully indicates which materials they will become post-recycling. There’s at least one Recycler per level and each one is clearly indicated on the map in green.
Next is the Fabricator, where you can cobble together the four aforementioned materials into something new. Firstly, however, you’ll need ‘plans’ or schematics that are scattered throughout Talos 1. If you can fulfill the requirements of the plans, then you’ll have yourself a shiny new weapon or resource. Each Fabricator is shown in bright pink on your map – you can’t miss it.
Originally teased in the extended gameplay trailer, you can also use the Recycler Charge as a kind of mobile Recycler. Each charge looks like a grenade that you throw at a pile of unwanted junk, turning the scrap caught in the blast radius into helpful resources. However, unlike the main Recyclers, there’s a limit on how much junk each charge will recycle.
Prey neuromods and abilities
Seeing as Talos I is a research facility, there isn’t much in the way of conventional firearms lying around the ship, other than light arms like pistols and shotguns. Morgan is also able to harness some of the alien abilities, which makes up a significant chunk of his or her arsenal. Other weapons are sourced from the technology already present in the facility à la Half-Life.
You can read our comprehensive Prey ability guide for more.
The most talked about feature in the game, Mimic Matter allows the player to turn into and control objects around the space station like chairs and plates. While in this form the player can move around, awkwardly rolling or twisting, in order to navigate the environment or presumably deceive enemies.
You can also use Mimic Matter for stealth, turning yourself into a small object, rolling by your target unseen and then resuming your human form. If you chain the ability with Superthermal – by using it on yourself – you can send the object you’re controlling high into the air, giving the player additional routes to raised platforms and ledges.
This ability creates a force field that lifts all objects on the ground up into the air. Really, the name says it all. Hop on top of a crate to and use it to reach a new area or zap a horde of Typhon up in the air for a xeno skeet shoot.
A grenade-type ability. When you activate Kinetic Blast, it paints a yellow target ring on the floor. And when you fire, it strikes the centre of that ring and pushes outwards, flinging everything within its radius violently backwards. Unsurprisingly, it causes a bit of damage too.
This ability comes from the Telepath Typhon type, and as such it lets you control humans. And you don’t need us to tell you why that’s fun and useful.
This ability places a floor-based trap that when triggered, fires a beam of plasma that deals massive damage to everything caught in it.
If you spot an alien about to leap into a chair or cup, activate Psychoshock, which disables alien powers for a short duration, leaving the inky black critters vulnerable to your shotgun blasts.
Where Leverage is for picking up and throwing heavy things at unsuspecting aliens, Remote Manipulation is about calmly and accurately shifting items about from afar, presumably to access new areas.
This handy ability lets you pick up huge objects and hurl them at great velocities. It takes some time to pick the object up in the first place, but it’s a useful tool for clearing a path or killing an enemy.
And what about specific firearms? Here are some of the best:
Every good sci fi game has that one seriously cool gun everybody wants to get their hands on, for Prey that gun must surely be the GLOO Cannon, which fires instantly setting glue. While that’s great for arts and crafters, it can also be used to stop enemies in their tracks, letting you then swap out to a pistol and shatter the glue sculptures before they’re able to escape. The GLOO Cannon is also a tool for environmental exploration, letting you create ramps up walls or cover steam vents and fires so that you can pass by unharmed.
Grenades are fun and all, but they’re also rather messy. Not the Recycler Charge though, which can be thrown into a tat-filled area, before consuming all the chairs, filing cabinets and scraps of paper in sight and turning them into material you can use in crafting. Prey’s Recycler Charge can either be used to get rid of obstacles that might be blocking your path or as a weapon that effectively gobbles up any enemy in its range.
Disruptor Stun Gun
Now, you’re probably wondering why on Earth you’d need a stun gun to take out aliens. Turns out, some aliens can possess humans – the Disruptor Stun Gun is your morally approved way means of disabling possessed people. It’s also effective frying droids.
Prey enemy types
Here are the aliens that’ll be haunting your every step through the Talos I…
These are the little adorable babies of the Typhon family. Except these little babies only appear in packs, and explode upon reaching their target.
We’ve heard and seen plenty of these guys: they’re small, they look like spiders, and they can disguise themselves as floor lamps.
Phantoms are fellow crew members who have been consumed by Typhon energy, and as such they can do things like hurl lightning at the player, control fire and breathe clouds of toxic gas. They’re also the most common enemy type in Prey, so good luck with that.
As the name suggests, this fiendish enemy can turn itself invisible. And to make matters worse they’re territorial too, which means they haunt single locations.
Telepaths serve as Prey’s mini-bosses: they have an army of possessed humans at their disposal, and can mete out massive damage with psychic energy blasts.
There might only be one Nightmare in the game, but it’s an enemy you don’t want to stumble upon. This behemoth of black tendrils will almost certainly kill you given half a chance, and spends the entire game searching you out. Because it’s a Typhon, it’s can track you down more successfully the more neuromods you use. So try not pump too many superpowers into your eyeballs.
Goodness gracious, there are a lot of these. First off, the official gameplay trailer, which comes in two flavours – male and female – both posted below.
Here’s a spoiler-ific run through the first 35 minutes of the game.
Here’s a quick blast through all the neuromods and their origins in Prey lore.
Is Prey a sequel?
Apparently not, despite the setting and gameplay characteristics it shares with the 2006 original. “Prey is not a sequel, it’s not a remake, it has no tie with the original,” said Prey’s creative director Raphael Colantonio at Bethesda’s pre-E3 show, “you have to look at it like a reimagining of the IP.”
Here’s our look at how Prey 2 became the Prey we know now.
Original Prey setting
Not all of Arkane’s ideas for a Prey reboot came to fruition. Interestingly, we found a couple of lengthy design documents that were leaked long ago strongly suggesting the plan for the original Prey reboot.
This leaked design document suggests three possible settings, all in the future. The first is a dirty, mechanical world at a time period one month before the events of System Shock, suggesting Prey would be a literal canon System Shock game.
The second brief looks at a retrofuturistic world based on 1950s New York City, with futuristic elements layered over traditional architecture, and characters dressed in sharp suits. Films like Dark City and Brazil are mentioned as influences.
The third option presents a sleek, lived-in future that evokes some of Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s architecture, as well as the cleaner, futuristic worlds of Minority Report and the recent Total Recall film.
The final design discusses a forested/jungle island, much like Crysis 3’s overgrown city setting.
Original Prey gameplay
A second leaked document covers what the team originally had in mind for the sequel’s gameplay.
With System Shock clearly in mind, the game is much more of an immersive sim with character building, environmental interaction, and a distinct focus on challenge, as opposed to the fairly run-and-gun nature of the original Prey.
Survival is highlighted as a key element, with the player required to eat and sleep well should they not wish to get sick. In an ‘adapt to survive’ idea, the player may also be able to alter their DNA to include alien abilities such as chameleon-like invisibility and sticking to walls (presumably to allow wall-walking like in the original game).
Weapons are suggested to comprise of melee, ranged, and psionic, with combat purposely difficult to help raise tension. Choice and consequence seem to be emphasised in order to make the game highly replayable.
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