When Bethesda revealed Prey at E3 2016, I was engaged by the trailer’s hint of psychological horror, but slightly put-off by its namesake to a game I had zero experience with. We’ve seen plenty of nostalgic cash-ins to cherished franchises, but Prey seemed like an odd choice.
According to Arkane, 2017’s Prey will have very little to do with the original or its cancelled sequel.
Arkane told Game Informer they had the concept for their 2017 game long before the name Prey was attached. The core idea was about a player confined on a space station, evading a stronger enemy hunting them.
Bethesda thought the basic concept fit the name Prey and asked Arkane to adopt the title. Arkane agreed as long as “we can do everything that we have planned and whatever wewant and not be beholden to anything anyone has done – shipped or cancelled – and just reimagine what Prey means going forward..” said Arkane’s Creative Director Raphael Colantonio.
Arkane’s Prey boasts several intricate systems that will allow for the creative sandbox play executed so well in their Dishonored games.
A core mechanic will allow your character to mimic items in the environment, for camouflage or traversal purposes. You could turn into a coffee mug (pictured above) to get through a tight space, or impersonate a chair to avoid detection. Expect to see enemies using this ability as well for some Thing-esque horror moments.
The story is still a mystery and we can only speculate what the Groundhog Day aspects of the E3 trailer are hinting at. Wether your character is a clone or caught in a time loop is unclear, but both options could provide great fodder for narrative and gameplay.
While Arkane has been secretive about the protagonist’s place in the plot, they did speak about the enemies you will encounter: Cystoids, Mimics, Phantoms, Poltergeists, Telepaths, and Nightmares.
Cystoids are small and operate with a hive mind. They’re attracted by motion and will explode to harm you, killing themselves in the process.
Mimics are the core of the enemy force and can start their species over if need be. They absorb the life force of their prey to duplicate as their form of reproduction. Arkane says “their main function is to hide and ambush the player”.
Phantoms are the nightmarish evolution of former crew members and are the most common enemy in the game. They’re the ones emitting that haunting sound you’ve heard if you’ve seen any of the gameplay videos.
Poltergeists are weaker than Phantoms but make up for their lack of strength with the ability to turn invisible as well as levitate objects and the player. They’ll dart in and out as support for other enemies.
Telepaths are like the overlords from Starcraft’s Zerg: slow floating, psychic powerhouses that impose their will on the creatures around them.
Lead Designer Ricardo Bare described “He owns an area and typically has a cluster of humans that he’s taken over. The humans are interesting, becaue they are aware of the fact that they’ve been possessed, so if they see you they’ll say things like, I can’t stop myself. Run, get away. We’re both going to die’…That presents the player with an interesting choice.”
The Nightmare is the most dangerous enemy and will constantly hunt the player. It also reacts dynamically to how many Neuromods the player installs, using the acquisition of your new powers as a tracking system.
Arkane proved with two Dishonored titles that they can tell compelling stories with engaging environments that support creative sandbox play. So far, it looks like they’re on the right track with the new Prey. It may not have much to do with the previous game of the same name, but that’s Bethesda’s call.
Prey is dead.
Long live Prey