When it comes to an announcement from Bethesda and their Arkane Studios development team, you know it’s something that is probably worth getting excited about.
Bethesda’s E3 2018 briefing brought a lot of exciting news stories, but when Arkane Studios took to the stage to talk about Prey, the recent rumours of upcoming DLC were cemented as true. That DLC turned out to be in the form of Prey: Mooncrash, and with a surprising immediate release straight after the E3 briefing, I jumped in to see if the guys over at Arkane have managed to retain the high levels of quality seen in the base game with Prey: Mooncrash.
One thing to note early on with this new DLC is that Mooncrash isn’t simply more of the same cut and paste gameplay. Instead it brings a roguelike experience to the Prey universe, in a bold bid to change things up. For those fearful that roguelike would never suit the gameplay of Prey, fear not, as the end result is actually rather spectacular.
Throughout the add-on, players take on the role of Peter – albeit briefly – who is a hacker stranded in a satellite orbiting the Pytheas Moonbase thanks to his suspect employer Kasma Corp. By way of virtual reality aboard the satellite, Peter is able to simulate the experiences of five characters that were on the base, to relive just what happened when things turned to ruin. With separation from his wife and child a reality until he can complete the task given by Kasma Corp, it’s Peter’s job to learn the fate of the characters who were trapped when horrifying aliens ran riot and invaded.
After entering the virtual reality state, it then becomes the five characters that you’ll spend your time controlling, however throughout Mooncrash, you’ll find that each one is unique and you will need to deal with the challenges facing them on the moonbase entirely differently.
Each of the characters come equipped with pre-determined items to help them along their way, with the security officer, packing a shotgun to deal with things head on, whilst another brings a Psychoscope which can deliver a more research-focused experience. Every character has a weakness though and to circumvent these, players must utilise points gained during gameplay to install new implants, gain additional weapons or grab new survival items to help them towards their escape.
As mentioned, this DLC is intended to bring a refreshing roguelike experience to Prey and it does this by ensuring that each and every time you die – and you will – you are then thrust back to the start of the simulation to try everything again. Difference is, it’s not a typical restart; everything that happened on the first run won’t happen on the second, and what you may find going on in the second, may not happen in the third. With the guys over at Arkane Studios describing Mooncrash as ‘infinitely replayable’, chances are you won’t find any run ever playing out the same. Whilst they start the same, there is always something that changes, even when you deliberately take the same route just to test the theory out.
The goal of each run is to escape the moonbase, but let’s face it, Prey is a horror game, and it is never going to be easy. To start off, players take the role of the one character out of the five and continue until progression is deemed enough to unlock the second. Once you unlock the second however there’s no fresh start though – instead things continue from where you left off with the last character, along with all of the choices and actions you made with that character too. What’s more is you then have to take the second guy and escape with them too. This was one thing that had me question my choices early on, as any items you’ve picked up along the way or terminals you’ve hacked with your first character, will play a part in the chances for the second. With your first run simply there to provide nothing more than skittish adventures of an excited gamer taking in a new environment, those initial choices probably won’t be the best and will quickly became a factor in any demise. One positive aspect that carries over however is that any Neuromods, implants and fabrication recipes found can always help out on a new run once you’ve gained your bearings.
It’ll be hard to know exactly what you need at first, however the items you carry are crucial to your chances of escaping from the moonbase, with Mooncrash proving highly challenging in terms of difficulty, ensuring you’ll need to make every item count. This is especially worrying when realistic issues such as radiation and haemorrhaging arise, and you don’t have the correct resources to combat them, seeing you put in a life and death scramble to find the fabrication plans for the vital items you need whilst avoiding the terrors of the moonbase.
What makes Prey: Mooncrash even more interesting however is the fact that through every new run, there is always something new to experience, rather than just the same thing in a different order. From little snippets of information woven into the environment, to humorous enemy behaviours and fear inducing scares, there’s never time to feel completely comfortable in what’s about to happen.
Further to that and the longer you spend in the simulation, the more the corruption meter fills. The more it rises, the harder everything becomes, as even stronger enemies appear and new environmental hazards litter the moonbase.
If you’re quick enough however, then the overall goal of escaping with all five characters in one run is a possibility – albeit a slim one. With just five routes out of the moonbase, it’s going to take a lot of luck and even more skill to make it out alive, especially when you consider that each character also comes with an attached story objective unique to them. Each of these brings a heavy emotional weight thanks to near perfect voice acting, and only a select few are likely to avoid crumbling under the emotional weight of each character as they pray for survival.
Prey: Mooncrash is by far one of the best additions to any base game that I have seen for some time. With more of the same charm and horror that made Prey so enjoyable, and plenty of variety and challenge brought with each unique run, Arkane Studios have done a fantastic job at giving us a quality triple-A roguelike experience. Whilst it may come with a £13.19 price tag, this is without a doubt one of 2018’s must own content packs.