There's a bunch of new things coming to Prey, Bethesda's survival horror shooter which launched last year.
Right now, a fresh update will add a New Game Plus and a tough Survival mode to the game.
Also available tonight is Mooncrash, a fresh DLC which will let you run through a repeatable simulation of you attempting to survive and escape from the Moon's secret TranStar base in what Bethesda calls "an infinitely replayable rogue-like campaign". It's available as a standalone download, or a DLC for the base game.
The day has finally come. Black Friday 2017 is finally upon us and with it has come an almost frightening level of discounts, special offers, bundles and limited-time deals on various bits of PC hardware and games both boxed and digital.
Star Wars! Snow White! Prey 2! Warhammer 40K! "There's tons of them."
Everyone has a drawer they can't close because it's stuffed too full of things. Mine has a whisk which always stops the bloody drawer from closing, and it's really annoying, but Obsidian Entertainment's drawer has around 100 game proposals in it. Game outlines in various states, from two-page snacks to 60-page feasts. "There's tons of them," Obsidian co-owner Chris Parker tells me. And for Obsidian there was never a time of greater need of an idea than summer 2012, after Microsoft cancelled Xbox One launch game Stormlands, and when South Park: The Stick of Truth was onboard THQ's sinking ship. It spurred a period now referred to in Obsidian history as the Summer of Proposals.
UPDATE: Patch 1.05 resolves all issues for PlayStation owners.
UPDATE 4/8/17 10:30am: It's taken three months to comprehensively sort the issues, but we can finally recommend the PlayStation 4 version of Bethesda's excellent Prey with no reservations. The title launched with no PS4 Pro support and poor controller response (measured by latency specialist Nigel Woodall at a disappointing 217ms). Subsequent patches attempted to resolve the input lag issues, but introduced intrusive stutter and screen-tearing issues in the process. June's patch added PlayStation 4 Pro support, but the poor consistency in performance remained.
Prey is by most metrics a pretty solid game, and one we recommended. However, there was one issue with the game's PS4 version that left our Digital Foundry experts bewildered and disappointed: it had no perceivable perks on PS4 Pro, despite the box noting that it would support Sony's premium console.
I half remember a brilliant review from the old, old days - which in games probably means it was around ten years ago at most. This review was for a shooter sequel of some kind, back in that period when designers were starting to experiment with putting physics objects into their games for the first time. The shooting was fine in this particular game, the review stated, but the environment was a problem. All those physics objects, those parts of the background of games which were suddenly, emphatically, promoted to being parts of the foreground. They got underfoot. They got in the way. They turned a John Woo ballet into a prolonged Laurel and Hardy pratfall. I wish I could remember the game, but in truth, the date alone would do. The date that games first encountered things - properly encountered them - and then discovered that games and things had to coexist.
Digital Foundry finds a radically improved PC experience compared to PS4 and Xbox One.
The die has been cast for the current generation of gaming - multi-platform games are built from the ground up with consoles in mind, with only limited gains when ported over to PC: higher frame-rates, larger resolutions and perhaps a 4K texture pack. But having spent a few days looking at the console and PC versions of Arkane Austin's Prey, one thing is clear - this title bucks the trend. The evidence strongly suggests that PC may well be the lead platform here, and the improvements are dramatic. For the full-fat Prey experience, PC is the only way to play.
Even core elements of the game's design seem to be built around the kind of high frame-rate experience that the consoles do not deliver. Key combat beats - battling the Mimics, specifically - are built around a twitch shooter mechanic that works best at 60fps or higher, and feels better still with mouse and keyboard. In terms of UI, Arkane offers PC users an enhanced interface which takes advantage of the classic keyboard/mouse combo. In addition, Prey offers native support for the Steam controller which works brilliantly here.
Then there's the level of optimisation built into the PC version. As we discussed earlier this week, the ability to hit 1080p60 gameplay at decent settings on a budget-orientated gaming PC ensures that the feel of the game can remain a class above, even if you're using relatively meagre components. The higher frame-rate ensures a crisper response than the Xbox One version, and it feels dramatically better in every way to the PlayStation 4 game, which can feel laggy and lumpen by comparison. That was an issue we highlighted in our initial Prey demo report, and while Arkane has tweaked deadzones, the Sony platform's rendition of the game clearly needs further work.
Digital Foundry reports superb scalability across a range of hardware.
After a rocky start with Dishonored 2 on PC, Bethesda's Prey comes out of the gate as one of the best-performing high profile PC titles we've seen in some time. Whether you're running an enthusiast-grade PC or a budget wonder, you're in for a really good time. Even a £55 CPU coupled with a £100 graphics card can run this title at 1080p at 60 frames per second - a creditable state of affairs bearing in mind that the demanding CryEngine middleware is used as the technological foundation for Arkane Austin's excellent offering.
How do you add intricacy to a genre as fearsomely intricate, as batty with systems, variables and knock-on effects as the so-called "immersive simulation"? One of Prey's answers to that question - and I promise this isn't me feeling around for a headline - is to add a bit of Minecraft. Folded in amongst the game's roster of Jedi uppercuts, fire pillars, remote hack attacks and prototype beam weapons is the ghostly suggestion of an in-game map editor. Consider the Recycler Charge - it looks like just another grenade, and can indeed be treated as such, but rather than blowing loose objects and enemies apart it sucks them in, stripping and compressing them to pleasing, Duplo-sized blocks and balls of generic raw material.
Pop the latter into a Fabricator - the clunk of a resource cube sliding home is immediately addictive, like the cartoon pop of a bullet impact in Call of Duty - and you can 3D print a new weapon, item or object, providing you've unearthed the right blueprint during your forays. You can also drop random junk into a full-sized Recycler to whip up a batch of resources without wasting your precious Charges. In either case, the resulting items don't just materialise in your inventory but cascade from the output hopper - a show of pure delight in the illusion of physical matter undergoing magical reassembly.
There's also a touch of freeform level construction to the Gloo Gun, one of the first tools you'll acquire, which can be used either to swaddle agile enemies in quick-setting cement, or create walkways along surfaces, "cheating" the level design much as you'd plant blocks along a cliff face in Minecraft. It's all representative of a game that is significantly weirder than the presence of shotguns, door codes and med-packs may suggest.
Scheduled for release next week, Bethesda recently released a demo version of its new take on Prey, effectively giving you the chance to sample the first hour of the full game. After development stalled on a sequel to the original game, Prey was rebooted from scratch by Arkane Austin - and what we have here is a new take on the formula made popular by System Shock and BioShock. The revamp also brings with it new technology - specifically CryEngine - a surprising choice bearing in mind the success enjoyed by Bethesda with its own proprietary idTech and Void engines.
Raphael Colantonio on Prey, Dishonored and breaking the world.
Arkane Studios is known as the developer of "immersive simulations" - worlds you sink into, wallow in, made up of intricately interlocking systems tied to exotic abilities, which can be manipulated to resolve a scenario any number of ways. But perhaps it would be more accurate to describe the Lyon and Austin-based company's creations as "emersive" sims, frameworks you struggle to break free of, using tools that aren't quite under the designer's control.
Aoife and I gave the first hour of Prey a go recently and found Arkane Studio's atmospheric shooter to be in rude health. As you might expect from the people who made Dishonored and Dishonored 2, the bits we got to try of Prey were richly layered; full of little quirks and secrets for the player to ferret out and play with.
Last week, Aoife and I paid a visit to Bethesda's London offices to have a look at Prey. While neither of us managed to turn into a coffee cup, we did get the chance to play through the game's first hour. The demo, which you can watch in the video below, really showed off just how tense things can get as Morgan stalks about the place - doing his (or her) best to sniff out camouflaged enemies and bash them in with a wrench.
Dishonored developer Arkane has been rather cagey about its upcoming Prey reboot, but now the Austin-based studio has spilled the beans on what its sci-fi horror/stealth hybrid is like to actually play.
We already knew that you could morph into a coffee cup, (as could your alien adversaries, for that matter) and use a "Gloo Cannon" in a similar capacity to Metroid's iconic Freeze Ray, but now we've seen a whole new host of powers on display.
To wit, you can summon a "Superthermal" pillar of heat to melt enemies, manifest a "Kinetic Blast" to repel them, or learn the telekinetic "Leverage" power to move large objects about.
Remember that old trailer for Prey 2 - the one from E3 2011 that cast the player as a super cool Alien Bounty Hunter? Of course you do, that game looked brilliant. Pity it got cancelled then.
Fast forward to this years E3 and we were once again surprised by a Prey trailer, but this time the feeling was more along the lines of "WTF is this?" rather than "OMG I've got to play this!"
I was one of many who were left feeling a little underwhelmed and more than a bit confused by the new-look, rebooted Prey, but then last week Bethesda released a brand new gameplay trailer and I started to dig a little deeper.