The original Prey, rather than a great game, was a game with some great ideas. Some great ideas that were not utilised, expanded upon or presented well enough to make enough of an impact on players to remember it for long. Portal-esque portals and gravity shifts were nice but, it’s taken games from other developers to demonstrate how to put them to good use.
Still, a developer with ideas is a developer to watch. Human Head Studios are once again taking up production and design duties for the sequel, this time with the backing of Bethesda Softworks. But, despite the good ideas, Prey 2 does not look a lot like the original. In fact, it doesn’t look anything like it.
For starters the protagonist is different, Prey 2 puts you in control of US Marshall Killian Samuels, a passenger aboard an airplane that crashes into the ‘Sphere’ (a location and event that players of the first game will remember well) at the start of the game. Upon managing to pull himself from the burning wreckage, Samuels is attacked and knocked unconscious by the Keepers; an alien race that have undergone a failed anger management program. Next thing you know you’re the only human on the planet Exodus, years have passed since the crash and you know nothing of what has happened since you were attacked. Eerie stuff.
However, Samuels has managed to turn himself into a successful bounty hunter operating in the alien city of The Bowery; think Blade Runner but even more futuristic, neon and smokey. Presumably, your time as Samuels will be split between working out what has happened during those ‘lost years’ and continuing your day job as a bounty hunter. It’s a far-cry from the trials of Tommy Tawodi, the controversial Native American hero of the first game.
The environment and level structure also differs greatly from the first game. Whereas Prey was split into distinct linear levels, Prey 2 falls more into the ‘go anywhere, do anything’ mantra of game design. The Bowery is an open-world city within which NPCs remember your actions (and react accordingly), Samuels learns and progresses his skill set and missions can be completed in a variety of ways.
For example, Human Head have described one bounty hunter mission in which your target offers to pay double the price on his own head if you go back to where you came from and kill the guy who paid you originally. But, that could have unforeseen ramifications later down the line. My choice? Kill ’em both and take all the money.
It’s clear that Prey 2 is shaping up to be an altogether more ambitious project than the original – perhaps as a result of influence from Bethesda’s corner – and it’s for that reason we’re so excited to see it at this year’s E3. If Human Head can manage to harness their potential and efficiently combine what to looks to be a myriad of different of ideas into a single, fluid whole then who knows what the outcome may yield.