Arkane Studios / Bethesda (studio)
11 June 2018 (released)
15 June 2018
Last year we were graced by Arkane Studios’ homage to the smart thinking shooters of the 90’s. Prey was a passion project that infused elements of System Shock and Deus Ex within an environment that present a high degree of challenge yet rewarded players with engaging gameplay. With a year having past, we get another reason to revisit Prey with “Mooncrash”.
The original reveal trailer for Prey had an interesting idea which was sadly not used in the actual game. What if you were repeating the same day or event over and over? Well Mooncrash decides to utilise this concept and bring us yet another highly immersive and gripping adventure.
This time we’re in the shoes of some poor dude named Peter, a brilliant hacker who’s stuck in a spy satellite orbiting the Moon. He’s been tasked to intercept TranStar communications by the shadowy KASMA Corp. Peter has been advised by his mystery benefactor that he’ll have to complete a series of simulations in order to go home and see his family. Peter must enter a simulation and take on the role of four survivors and guide them to freedom through the top secret TranStar Moon base. Players will encounter all manner of horrors along the way and must the survivor’s specialised skills and their own cunning to escape.
Everything you loved about Prey is present here, engaging combat, meaningful crafting and intense difficulty. What makes the Mooncrash DLC pretty captivating is how the world changes around you with each simulation you embark on. As you have multiple survivors, thus there are multiple ventures into the world and each time presents new elements.
Each simulation integrates new enemies, various hazards, new mission objectives to complete with better loot and gear you can collect each time you play. New items and areas will unlock and the more you explore as one character, the great the potential rewards can be for the next. The world continues to expand and with the core game, freedom is a luxury given to the player to exploit as much humanly possible.
One of the more significant factors this time is the increasing difficulty which is affected by two things. Firstly it falls mainly on the choices the player makes in each play-though, as picking up weapons in with one character will not cause them to respawn with the next. I made the big mistake of taking everything I could find in my first run and when it came to playing as my engineer in the next round, I had hardly anything to pick up. Not to mention the new enemy spawns and alterations in the environment didn’t help in this matter.
Then there’s the unseen timer, counting down to a point where it increases the difficult with a “wave” of new enemy placements and other elements. So if you spend too much time as a single character then the world will bring ramped up the challenge to extreme levels, with a potential total of 5 waves. I did like this idea but with a game that has a strong emphasis on exploration and with the world being massive, it can get a little tedious. It would’ve been more effective to have this as an optional feature rather than force it on players. Yet this is balanced out fairly quickly with the inclusion of “simulation Credits” that allow players to buy weapons, gear and aid they’ve possibly unlocked during the last round. It pays off to explore and find new blue prints but with the increasing difficulty, it becomes a highly intense scheme of risk and reward.
There are other new features such as degradable weapons and traumas which can cause internal bleeding and such which continually last until you heal them properly.
Another interesting addition but one that can really make you grit your teeth with the already high levels of difficulty. Also it just feels very odd in this context. Melee weapons I can understand but for firearms to deaerate after a few uses didn’t make much sense. However these features are optional, but worthwhile for veterans to add another layer to the challenge.
What we get is a sort of rogue-like Metro-Vania FPS that focuses on punishing difficulties yet rewards players for patience, exploration and quick thinking. The simulation never resets as if one character dies, you can continue until all other characters are either dead or escaped.
The goal is to get everyone out of the Moon base but there are so many different paths and exits that it can keep you coming back over and over. Even with 15 hours I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of this DLC and for what it is, this is one of the best DLCs I’ve played recently. I understand the difficulty can be intense at times but it’s a healthy challenge that I felt was highly rewarding and centred on an enriching journey.
With the dynamic nature the environment, Mooncrash grants an endless challenge with a vast amount of replay to test even the most skilled veteran.
++ Dynamic concept
+ Tons of replay value
+ Same great Prey gameplay
- Intense difficulty spikes
An Xbox One copy of Prey: Mooncrash was provided by the publisher for purpose of this review