Prey was considered one of the Xbox 360’s must-have titles, one of the reasons to own the console. It was unique, fascinating and ambitious, introducing gameplay mechanics — like the use of portals — that would later be honoured/copied in future games.
Despite Prey‘s critical and commercial success (it went on to sell one million copies fairly quickly), the planned sequel was stuck in limbo for years. Much like the original game, which was one of the first “vaporware” games after having been in development for a decade, the so-called sequel was passed from developer to developer until Bethesda eventually snatched the rights to the Prey name from 2K and took control of the project.
Initially, the game looked promising. I saw it at E3 2011, and it looked balls-to-the-wall crazy. But maybe that was the problem: just like original concepts for Prey, and other games like Duke Nukem Forever, Prey 2 was simply too ambitious for the time.
Maybe. I’m not sure. I remember thinking at the time that it seemed complicated — almost too complicated — to be sold as a mainstream shooter. And when I say “complicated”, I don’t mean in a bad way: I mean in a System Shock 2-meets-Half-Life 2 kind of way, where many different mechanics, inputs and options confront the player.
Above all else, however, the game looked like how a sequel should have looked. It seemed like a true sequel. Bethesda hyped it up behind-closed-doors at that E3, but then suddenly it disappeared.
Much in the same way BattleCry‘s development has been suspended, Prey 2 just seemed to be stuck in neutral: no updates, no news, nothing.
Then, in 2014, the game was officially cancelled. Bethesda said the game wasn’t going in the direction they wanted it to go in.
Enter: Prey. 2017. Prey Reboot. Prey Rebirth. Prey Whatever.
At E3 2016, Bethesda revealed Prey (2017). Or just Prey. Okay I’ll stop.
As a massive fan of the original, I was pretty pumped to see Prey being rebooted. The trailer looked all sorts of cool, and Arkane, the talented folks behind Dishonored, where working on it. Good news all round.
Until I realised the game looks and sounds nothing like the original Prey. And, just as I feared, it turns out this Prey game and the original game have nothing in common.
“We started thinking about the next game that we wanted to do, and Arkane specialises in one kind of game: we make first person immersive sims, games with depth,” Prey’s lead designer, Ricardo Bare, told PC Gamer. “We wanted to do something with science fiction. Our brand of game, but in a science fiction setting on a space station with aliens, and so that seemed a really good match. Bethesda has this name: Prey. And it’s a really great name and it matched the concept we were thinking of, so yeah.”
It’s pretty clear that Bethesda knew that there was an audience interested in Prey, and that there was hype and interest around the initial sequel (although perhaps amplified due to its mystery). It’s disappointing to hear that this is called Prey only because it’s a sci-fi game, although I do admittedly have faith it’ll be a great game considering Arkane’s history.
But Prey fans simply shouldn’t look at this game as “Prey”, but rather as a game with the same name.
Because, really, that’s all that it is.