Into The Dark
Bethesda invited us behind closed doors to watch an extra long gameplay demonstration of Prey 2 at this year's Gamescom. As fans of the original, we jumped at the chance. Anyone who has played Prey will remember it as a surprisingly fresh shooter. Its gripping Cherokee protagonist Tommy, innovative environmental puzzles and unique spiritual powers made traipsing around the slimy alien Sphere a worthwhile experience. The news that Prey 2 would be dropping all of these features caused something of an outrage, but before condemning the title to a fate worse than hell, consider that Human Head Studios are out to maintain the fresh feeling of its predecessor rather than lazily create another 'more-of-the-same' sequel.
Before we delve into how different Prey 2 is to its predecessor, a better idea would be to start by outlining how it remains loosely connected. In Prey, you may remember that a plane crashed into The Sphere, aboard which was a US Marshall named Killian Samuels. Knocked out by the impact of the crash, Samuels awoke amidst the wreckage on an unknown planet and found himself in hostile territory. You take control of Samuels from here on in to fight your way out of the plane, showing Samuels' skills and tactics during battle. Unlike Tommy, Samuels can stick to cover, can blind-fire and pop out of cover to effectively take out his opponents. Despite his best efforts though, Samuels inevitably ends up being knocked unconscious by the aliens.
Prey 2 skips a few years ahead of the events on The Sphere and picks up with Samuels who has now adapted to life as a bounty hunter on the planet Exodus. Due to the odd orbiting pattern of Exodus, one half of the planet is always dark and the other is always light. Prey 2 takes place in a city on the dark side where the player can roam freely in a city somewhat reminiscent of Blade Runner's dark, neon-filled Los Angeles. The city feels very cramped and most areas feel like complex corridors but it also instils a sense of verticality through sheer drops and scalable towers. The city feels as if it was designed around the idea of allowing the player access to all areas - high and low – with many nooks and ledges for Samuels to climb on to. It is still quite a sight though, especially using the wing-like hover pack that allows you to glide down from greater heights. The cyberpunk architecture may be an acquired taste though.
Off the Edge
Dropping the linearity of its predecessor, Prey 2 encourages its players to take a stroll around its city and interact with its plentiful alien inhabitants. This is best done with any weapons holstered as all NPC's react to any apparent sign of hostility. This was demonstrated when a beggar retreated back into a corner muttering his apologies after a gun was waved in his face. Not being the most glamorous of settings, there seems to be a whole load of scummy alien characters on the streets, each offering a chance of sculpting your karma. Players can choose to clean the streets like a reincarnation of Travis Bickle, or join in with the filth and be the worst evil doer around.
Our demonstrator encountered two thugs kicking a guy and had the choice between helping the poor guy which might yield a reward or – deciding that ignorance is bliss - to keep out of the way and let the man be killed. Another example required a more conscious decision to be evil and saw an innocent bystander standing atop a great height, casually absorbing the sight of the metallic architecture in the distance. Walking by, Samuels pushed him off the edge to fall to his death. Unprovoked murders of innocents like this will mount up and will lead to a bounty being placed on Samuels' head, so those guilty players should watch their back as they venture the city.