Prey 2’s Game Director, Chris Rhinehart, has been talking through the events seen in the early trailers for the game. There are three separate commentary videos, the last of which hit the internet yesterday. Here’s some thoughts and analysis on what we see, what we’re told and what remains totally unclear. Before you start watching though, one thing that doesn’t remain unclear is the ending to the first game, so if you’re planning to play through first, come back when you’re done.
I definitely wouldn’t have figured out that was Prey 2 unless I’d read the name of the video beforehand, which I guess is the point. It’s more like a faster moving reboot of Lost or Cloverfields on a Plane. The rather flimsy connection to the opening of the first game is fine by me since it allows for a big dramatic setpiece. However, I’m not a believer in live action trailers for computer games. Primarily it’s because they are clearly unrelated to the game in terms of visual fidelity but, more than that, despite the fact that today’s AAA title is more expensive to make than a cinescreen extravaganza, the actual actors used in these sequences are usually less convincing than animated characters.
We are told here that knowledge of Killian’s personality is transmitted to us by two important details. The first being that he is a man of the law. The second, that if is he on a plane which is being torn asunder by a tractor beam and invaded by aliens, he will instantly and calmly open fire. It’s almost as if he was expecting it. And that makes him a maniac.
Post-abduction, Killian has rapidly established himself as a bounty hunter with a plethora of crazy gadgets, all of which are among Chris Rhinehart’s favourites. The way he looks at his old badge as he suits up is, again, suggestive of someone who just loves to hunt alien scum. He adjusts well to new environments one might say. I still think he’s a maniac.
As for the chase itself, it’s exciting and slick but it’s not ingame footage. There’s an inverse Mirror’s Edge feel about it, with Killian the pursuer rather than the pursued, and it’s difficult not to be reminded of Assassin’s Creed. The enemies being painted with targets and dispatched in a blur suggests twitch gaming and it’s hard not to imagine a sequence like this being on rails to a considerably large degree. Oh, and Rusty Cage is great but stick with Tom Waits and use The One That Got Away. Puts a whole new spin on proceedings.
Part three and it’s business as usual for Killian. Shooting, throwing gadgets, jumping, chasing and then sending the target “off to the client”. That looks like a particularly unpleasant process but I’m presuming this was a particularly unpleasant alien. Gadget-wise, the gravity wave is a fine thing and it should be in all cover-based shooters. In fact, gravity wells should automatically appear beneath anyone who crouches behind the same piece of cover for more than 30 seconds. Then there’s the final proof that Killian lived a broken life on Earth and only ever craved the sweet satisfaction that abandonment on an alien hellhole could bring; when a monstrously large and well-armed alien decides to pick a fight with him, he grins. Because it’s wanted DEAD. It’s the smile of a man who feels no fear, only the joyous anticipation of violent affray and murder.
To be honest, that’s probably exactly what Prey 2 needs. A man who enjoys the thrill of the chase. The world looks fun to navigate and combat looks satisfying. Whether much if any of the ingame action will be at this breakneck pace, it’s hard to say and there may be a lack of variety, but a game based around pursuit as much as firefights has its appeal. We certainly know a lot more about the ideas behind the game now but as for the actual game, not so much.
Chris says it was important to the team not to put any gameplay in the trailer that couldn’t be replicated in the game. That’s a good and noble idea, but what do we actually see? A man jumping onto a train, sliding under a walkway, shooting aliens and throwing gadgets. Oh, and slamming into aliens. It looks exciting but it’s not new and we don’t know how streamlined or freeform these chases will be. If missing that train leads to a “mission failed, target escaped” popup everytime, the pursuit becomes much less cinematic. The claims of an open world are far from meaningful if the missions themselves take place on a predefined obstacle course.
On the whole though, I’m just keen to see more, which is a good thing at this stage. Gameplay footage is available but it would be helpful to see different targets with different abilities, more gadgets and some environmental variety. And hopefully, next time, it'll be running in-engine.