Push Prey’s limits with this impressive lighting overhaul

Prey

Last year’s Prey was a lovely thing. Arguably one of the best immersive sims ever made, and despite its title being lifted from Bethesda’s back-catalogue, it had vastly more in common with System Shock than any other game. On top of being impressively designed, it looked quite nice thanks to consistently slick art direction, and ran excellently on just about any gaming-capable PC.

Some people with beefier machines felt a little let down, though, feeling that corners had been cut over the course of development to ensure smoother performance on lower-end hardware. Enter modder jmx777, and their rather clumsily named ‘Real Lights Plus Ultra Graphics’ mod, allowing you to squeeze an immediately noticeable chunk more graphical fidelity out of the game.

Prey

The biggest change introduced by this mod is making almost every single light-source in the game fully dynamic, and capable of casting shadows. It’s subtle at first, but can be very striking in some rooms with larger lighting fixtures. Most mechanical light sources can be destroyed, meaning less controlled firefights can plunge entire rooms into darkness.

There’s more to it than that, of course, with lower-polycount ‘LOD’ models being bypassed in favour of rendering everything at maximum detail, volumetric fog being made a little denser, and reflective surfaces such as polished floors showing more detail. Decals from combat (blood, bullet holes, etc) will almost always stay until you leave and return to a given level, too.

Earlier versions of this mod darkened the entire game, wrong-headedly aiming for a more horror-style aesthetic, and were plagued with some nasty bugs (such as the Gloo Gun sometimes spawning an ever-expanding ball of void that swallows all light). The current incarnation of the mod – v1.0, released today – lets you choose a darker world if you so please, but the default version adheres closely to the original game’s look. Still, changes to the lighting model do make some areas a little more heavily shadowed than they used to be.

Prey

The Prey Ultra Graphics Mod isn’t all sunshine and lollipops, to be fair. It can and will take a bite out of performance, especially in larger chambers. If you want a solid 60fps lock at 1920 x 1080 even using the slightly lighter-weight version of the mod without Reshade, you’ll probably have to be packing a GTX 1070 or equivalent, but the results – especially in more claustrophobic, moodily lit chambers – are probably worth the extra hardware cost.

For those with less beefy machines, there is a ‘Lite’ version provided that makes some careful improvements with an aim to keep performance roughly equivalent with the unmodded game. While the Ultra Graphics mod, at least in its full-fat incarnation isn’t for everyone at present, and still has a few minor quirks (I’ve seen some distant light-sources flicker occasionally as I move), I can see this being the default way to enjoy Prey come the next generation of gaming hardware.

You can grab the Prey Ultra Graphics Mod via the Nexus network here, and it would be remiss of me to not mention that Prey itself is heavily discounted over at Fanatical this week. With the voucher code ‘LUNAR8’, it comes to just over £13, the cheapest it’s ever been.

27 Comments

  1. Godwhacker says:

    Sounds like a reason to replay this brilliant thing

  2. pookie101 says:

    I need to play this. I have had it installed since launch but I’ve been distracted

  3. Nibblet says:

    Easily one of the best games made this decade, but you did not buy it did you? That is crime and punishment in one that is.
    Collective punishment at that, as we wont be getting a sequel and it is all YOUR fault.

    • ZippyLemon says:

      Wow. That… worked. I feel awful.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      Oh man that DID work. Guess I’d better get it. Better late than never?

    • Colthor says:

      “Incorporates 3rd-party DRM: Denuvo Anti-tamper”

      It makes me really sad when excellent games attach unreasonable and unnecessary nonsense (it already requires online authentication through Steam, isn’t that bad enough?).

      Oh well, maybe one day it will come to GOG, or at least have that rubbish stripped out. And in the meantime I have literally hundreds of unplayed games to get through at a rate of maybe fifteen hours’ playtime a week, so I’m unlikely to get bored for… the rest of my life, probably. I can afford to be picky.

    • SBLux says:

      B..b..b..but I did but it and at full price too. *sniffle*

    • fish99 says:

      I think a lot of people assumed Prey was cobbled together from the (reportedly) unfinished mess that was Prey 2 rather than a fresh game, so I think the name ended up costing the game a bunch of sales. The marketing team needed to work a lot harder on differentiating the game from original-Prey/Prey 2 and explaining exactly what it was, or it should have just had a different name.

      They also released Prey after a bunch of other big games (zelda, horizon, nier, mass effect, persona, wildlands etc) and in the middle of summer.

    • mavrik says:

      Since the developers thanked my for paying for Prey with DRM which refuses to run the game without internet… I kinda regret buying it.

  4. faircall says:

    I found myself absolutely loving it until the last 2 or 3 hours maybe, after which the challenge fell away along with the story. At a certain point, the rapid respawning of enemies suggested the rational choice was to just bypass the them. And as John said the ending was quite disappointing (and I am including the post credits). I think this has lead me to be unfairly harsh in my view of the game, because if there was a 2-3 hour lull in the middle of the game I’m sure it would leave a great memory.

    • Godwhacker says:

      I loved the ending (taking the post-credits sequence as the actual ending) but I can see how it would be divisive. You’re right about the last couple of hours though, in the end you’re so overpowered that you can sprint straight through.

      Still brilliant mind.

      • Dewal says:

        MILD SPOILER

        The ending wasn’t bad in itself and was hinted toward during the main game.
        But it could make one feel that the entire playthrough and the decisions you had to make were a bit pointless. You need a strong “the important thing is the trip, not the destination” kind of mentality to overcome that feeling completely.

        MILD SPOILER

      • faircall says:

        I should give it another playthrough. Perhaps the story will click more, and I’d like to try a neuromod-heavy approach.

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      subdog says:

      I thought the rational choice was to disable the devices that were respawning the enemies and/or dominate the enemies so that they’re on your side and thus no longer being destroyed and respawning.

  5. spacedyemeerkat says:

    Excellent game, great ending.

    But, as nice as these graphic enhancements look, I’ve no desire to play through it again any time soon.

  6. Kefren says:

    I’ll be buying this once they remove Denuvo. I check Wikipedia once a month, since there are a few games in that category. link to en.wikipedia.org

  7. MaxMcG says:

    I really loved this game. Arkane are pretty much Looking Glass Studios with a new name and some different personel. It’s no surprise that Dishonoured is Thief re-imagined and Prey is basically System Shock. If only Arkane could get their hands on the rights to Thief though, I would love a proper Thief game (or even a re-make).

    • geisler says:

      Well, all i can tell you is enjoy the games Arkane have made up to this point, because i don’t think they’ll ever secure a budget for this ‘immersive sim’ style game ever again. People just don’t buy them, and these are very costly products to make. In part, this is why i think Colantino left, and he (co-)directed them all.

      The only thing left to do now if you like these kinds of games is wait for what Spector and the folks at Otherside Entertainment are going to do (some actual veterans from Looking Glass here), but they are dealing with pubestring budgets compared to what Arkane were getting under Bethesda Softworks.

  8. woodsey says:

    Ooh now I want to replay it – again.

    It’s even better the second time through when you realise you can explore almost the entire station about 2 hours in.

  9. Alien says:

    Best graphics mod for Prey (or Dishonored) is supersampling. Those games look like pre-rendered image films…

  10. NumericDyslexic says:

    Just tried it and I have to say its very very pretty but boy it really takes a chunk out of the frame rate. Barely managed to keep it above 30 before it crashed :( if you have a machine that can run this then go for it but be warned folks, it takes a toll.

  11. vahnn says:

    I started it and got perhaps 3 hours in, and then… I dunno! Got distracted by other games. Probably Dark Souls 3 pvp. Damn you, Dark Souls! Daaammnnnn yyyoooouuuuu!

    Anyway, this looks great, time to reinstall this bad boy.

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