Mugs and mayhem: eight minutes of Prey

Prey [official site] is the game where you can turn into a mug. It’s a sign of developer Arkane’s reputation as Makers of Interesting Games that it isn’t simply known as “That Game Where You Turn Into A Mug”. Eight minutes of footage, some of which you may have seen before, shows other reasons to be excited about this sci-fi thriller. There’s the shadowy creatures, the gloopy gun-gadget, some handsome environmental design, and the kind of combo-chaining of abilities that Dishonored 2 does so well.

And, yes, a mug trundling around a space station.

I love that the aliens look almost intangible but manage to make such a ruckus, phasing about the place and sending objects skittering around the room. I couldn’t help but cringe when the commentary mentioned how rare weapons are and then the player shot a bin to check if it was an alien in disguise – USE THE WRENCH TO DO THAT, THAT’S WHAT THE WRENCH IS FOR. Prey is almost certainly going to be a game in which I spend most of my time clobbering everything with a wrench. It’s the natural end-point of my FPS habits.

It all looks great to me, but I’m still completely in the dark as to how the structure works. Arkane talk about the station as being an open setting, so I’m interested to know how difficulty is gated, and how I’ll go about picking up objectives and getting a sense of direction.

Along with the video above, there’s also a shorter trailer that contains some of the same scenes cut short, and a tagline that probably means something. It was shown at last night’s Game Awards so there’s a brief introduction from the show.

23 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    john_silence says:

    Between the seemingly innovative interactions (they may be iterative but hey, moving around as a tea mug still sounds quite novel and radical) and the frankly amazing graphics + world-building, I’m getting goosebumps about this like I haven’t in a long time – not even for the first Dishonored.

    Adam recently presented Dishonored 2 as a true Thief successor, and I’m wondering whether this Prey, with its eerie atmosphere and actual Looking Glass quotes, isn’t going to push even further in that direction. The glimpse of the outside of the space station reminded me of that weird bit in Constantine’s mansion when you seem to pass through outer space.

  2. Faults says:

    I just can’t see the appeal of this game at all. The setting and style still feel deeply unremarkable, especially in the wake of Irrational’s canned Xcom reboot’s shadowy mimics and Human Head’s Prey 2’s sprawling mega-cities. Also, the object-mimicking ability still looks absurd and kind of stupid. And the weapons all look bland and ugly and uninspired.
    The idea of exploring an abandoned space station still seemed pretty cool until I realised it was giving off largely the same vibes as the first two Dead Space games, microgravity sections and all, only without the macabre body-horror aspect that really sold those games. Even what soundtrack work I hear in there just sounds ‘meh’, which is not something I expected to say of Mick Gordon’s work.

    The whole thing just feels wholly devoid of charm, which kinda sucks to be saying of a game by Arkane, whose work I’ve always been broadly fond of. I hope I’m proven wrong and that this actually turns out to be another hit for Arkane’s uniformly incredible gameplay design, but hitting bins to find out if they’re actually aliens seems like the polar opposite of that tbh.

    • woodsey says:

      People need to get over the Human Head thing, the E3 demo (the only thing ever shown) was not convincing.

      • Faults says:

        The Human Head demo was corroborated as playable by more than one source. Also, there was lots more of Prey 2’s game-world that got leaked over time.

        Besides, none of that really has any bearing on any of my concerns about the quality of this game, even purely on its own merits. Sure, Arkane could still knock it out of the park in terms of gameplay, but given the closest points of reference I can find are ‘System Shock without a charismatic malevolent AI’, ‘Dead Space minus terrifying atmosphere and grotesque body-horror’, or ‘that reboot of XCom that everybody hated and then got cancelled’, I think I’m well within my grounds to be a tad cynical about this game.

        • KenTWOu says:

          The Human Head demo was corroborated as playable by more than one source.

          Unfortunately, that doesn’t say much. This demo was also ‘playable’, and you can see what it really means. Prey 2 could have been a heavily scripted presentation where you should followed the same strictly defined order of actions, otherwise it wouldn’t work, because nothing is ready yet, especially enemies’ AI.

          • Faults says:

            Seriously, I don’t doubt that Prey 2 got canned because the devs encountered a whole bunch of difficulty getting various parts of the game’s logic up and running. They pretty-much straight up stated that what they showed was a vertical slice.

            I don’t really feel, however, that Prey 2’s development difficulties should really have any bearing on how much slack people give Arkane’s reboot. So much of what’s shown here just looks straight-up dull regardless of context IMHO.

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            DelrueOfDetroit says:

            You still need to throw away any expectations you have based on previous Prey games. Pretend it has a different name if you have to. The game was already in development when Bethesda acquired the Prey licence. Bethesda wanted to make a Prey game and Arkane had a sci-fi horror game in the works so they just put the two together.

          • Faults says:

            “You still need to throw away any expectations you have based on previous Prey games.”

            Christ, how many times do I have to repeat myself that this game, to me, looks pretty mediocre regardless of its heritage? I think I laid out, pretty clearly and comprehensively above, exactly why I feel this game looks like it’s not up to Arkane’s pedigree, and it’s only very marginally to do with the cancellation of Prey 2.
            Besides, why should I or anybody else throw away said expectations when it was entirely Bethesda and Arkane’s deliberate, thought-through decision to utilise an established IP when developing this game? You can’t not have certain expectations. Imagine if, during the Doom reboot, Bethesda decided Id’s work wasn’t up to scratch and reassigned the license to another developer, who decided to ‘reimagine’ the game as a permadeath sandbox survival game with no demons? Fans would go absolutely nuts.

            “The game was already in development when Bethesda acquired the Prey licence.”
            I don’t have a clue where you got the idea this is the case, but Arkane’s own leaked design documents fairly comprehensively refute that idea.

    • KenTWOu says:

      Human Head’s Prey 2’s sprawling mega-cities

      Yeah, sprawling mega-cities… They developed the game for PS3/X360 hardware using heavily modified id tech 4. It would be more like a couple of claustrophobic city hubs full of loading screens and lack of interactivity because of console RAM limitations. By the way, I’ve seen their E3 gameplay footage, it wasn’t that impressive in terms of its scale.

      • Faults says:

        Oh my apologies, I must have completely forgotten that no games developed for seventh-gen consoles ever used any kind of content-streaming. I rescind all my criticisms of this Prey reboot henceforth.

        • KenTWOu says:

          Both Human Revolution and Dishonored proved that it was really hard to make a first person view game with city hub structure a la Prey 2 on 7th gen consoles. Both games were released at the end of consoles life cycle for a reason, and their city hubs were significantly less ambitious than Prey 2 vertical slice.

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        Phasma Felis says:

        If the GTA games could manage few loading screens on the PS2, I’m sure it could be done on the PS3/360 if the developer wanted it bad enough.

    • klops says:

      My thoughts as well. Setting and style, object mimicking, enemies, weapons and spells are all very bland to me. Climbable goo was nice. I also remember that Dishonored 2 press material didn’t look that good to me so hopefully we’re wrong and this’ll be a good System Shock-a-like.

      Also the shadowgoospiders make me think of this Disney’s health education / propaganda movie:
      link to archive.org

  3. Crafter says:

    This really does not remind me of the first Prey at all, which is a shame.
    I have really good memories of this flawed game.

    Also, I can’t help but compare this to the leaked footage of the abandoned Prey 2 game. It is really a shame, on paper this first try really looked like something unique.

    • Simulmondo says:

      The first Prey was such a good game. This one has nothing to do with it, at this point it’s just a catchy name for Arkane’s take on System Shock 3. Too bad the real Prey 2 got cancelled, we should’ve had both.

      • Premium User Badge

        john_silence says:

        I may be excited about this but I’m totally with you there. The first Prey was wildly underrated.

  4. shocked says:

    Looks a bit as if the title could end in -shock, doesn’t it?

    Sadly with the current AAA-quality there’s a 90 percent chance that it’ll be buggy as hell in the first months. I’ll get this in 2018.

  5. Shazbut says:

    This looks fantastic.

  6. MultiVaC says:

    So kind of like System Shock meets the Prophunt mod for TF2? Sounds cool to me. But yeah, I still am not over the “Prey” name issue, I think that’s always gonna bother me. The least they could do is throw in a sphincter door in there somewhere.

  7. HothMonster says:

    You forgot the “Press Sneak Fucks” tag

  8. Turkey says:

    Well, it’s obviously a spiritual successor to System Shock, which we should all theoretically be super excited for. But all the bits surrounding the gameplay look really uninteresting.

  9. Spuzzell says:

    I can’t watch an FPS being played on a pad, it makes me feel headachy and nauseous.

    If anyone finds footage being controlled by a mouse then I’d love to watch it.