Prey: Mooncrash Review (PS4)

Prey’s first and only downloadable content started with a tease hinting at something related to the Moon. It wasn’t until E3 that Bethesda Softworks officially dropped the curtain on this expansion and from the first idea of it, fans were expressing disappointment because it never sounded like a traditional experience while most wanted to get another look at the game’s story. Even as someone who is normally not a fan of the roguelite elements, it was surprising to see how great they implemented it into the narrative of Prey: Mooncrash.

Prey: Mooncrash picks off right after the end of the story from the game, so if you haven’t managed to complete it, don’t bother with this expansion right away. Once you finish with the story of the game and have enjoyed what Prey has to offer, you will better appreciate the gameplay changes offered in this new downloadable content.

The thing that I really liked about the original Prey was its excellent level design. The game’s combat system was pretty good and once you acquired more of the Typhon abilities, it was fun to take down the enemies. Prey: Mooncrash retains a lot of the core aspects of the game and its design, but shuffles a lot of elements as well, which makes it a completely new and unique experience but something that still retains the spirit of what made the original Prey so great in the first place.

The main character in Prey: Mooncrash is Peter, who is a hacker that is a Kasma Corp employee sent to spy on the ill-fated TranStar base. His mission deals with finding out the fate of the moon base and to do this, he has to enter a simulation using a virtual reality headset that lets him see firsthand the events that resulted in the events that started this all. Peter is able to simulate the roles of the five moon base employees as he attempts to piece together the missing elements and figure out the fate of them.

This concept not only provides the developers an opportunity to experiment with the gameplay ideas, it has also resulted in the expansion having more replay value because of the unique personality and traits for each character. Every time you play through one of them, a different turn of events unfold and it is interesting to see how each of them deal with it in their own way. There is always the main story objective but you will find different secondary goals for every character that will help you get a better idea of the narrative and events unfolding around the moon base.

The gameplay revolves around this narrative that you are in a simulation. Each time you kill enemies, you will gain the so-called sim points that will let you enhance your loadout the next time you attempt the simulation again. The map layout remains the same each time you attempt it with a different character but the changes are for the enemy placement, loot, and environmental hazards so you will hardly face any repetition with it. This is where the roguelite elements come into play here and it never feels like something that is just tacked on by the developers.

So what’s the fun here? The 5 different characters have their own skills and unique upgrade paths. It was surprising for me to see the underlying depth of this system since I never expected it from such an expansion. The more you play in the simulation, the increasingly difficult it becomes and as you discover new enemies, you will have to alter your strategies to deal with them. Add to the fact that each time you die and keep the sim points, you will simply improve your own performance by getting the upgrades and it feels amazing to clear any difficult encounter with incremental upgrades that had troubled you in the start.

The end goal each time is to escape the moon base and this is where the specific abilities of the characters will show their impact and importance on your choices. Some of them use their ability to hack while others can repair, and this will change the path that you will take for your objective. Even if you end up falling short of your goal, there is no frustration or penalty for dying because you know that it will be a better and easier experience the next time you attempt it again.

Prey: Mooncrash Review (PS4)

Game description: Fight overwhelming odds to escape a secret TranStar moon base where the enemies you encounter, the hazards you face, the goals you complete, and the loot you collect are different each time you play.

Summary

If you have enjoyed your time with Prey, don’t let the random elements deter you from buying this expansion. This is basically the best thing for a downloadable content that the developers could have done with Prey’s gameplay and it is worth its asking price if you want more of the same.

8/10

Humad Ali Shah

Sometimes he hides under his bed and pretends he's a carrot. Follow him on Twitter and Google+

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