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preview

Prey - Hands-on with the first 90 minutes

We experienced the start of Morgan Yu's adventures on Talos 1.

Finally, a video game where you collect stuff and send all the scrap to virtual recycling - we're as happy as can be standing in front of the recycler, playing as Morgan Yu (male or female is your choice, with no influence on the actual gameplay), throwing in whatever we found on the Talos 1 space station. Old wires, broken hard disks and, thankfully, the contaminated bags with alien innards can be recycled. As an added thank you for cleaning up, you get raw materials that allow you to print out med kits, weaponry, ammunition and more from the Fabricator (but only if you have the necessary blueprints). It's a brave new world on Talos 1, and unfortunately almost everything is dead on this privately owned space station circling the Moon in 2032. What may be alive are aliens seemingly made up of black smoke; aliens that can turn into everything from a coffee cup to a med kit. It makes for nasty surprises every so often, but luckily it's also great fun.

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Prey is officially labelled a first-person sci-fi action thriller, at least that's what the developers called it during the presentation. The game lets us experience the rather complex story of Morgan Yu and, as we learned in the first twenty minutes, Morgan has a problem grasping reality, because the world is not real at all, much like what you saw in The Truman Show. The brilliant scientist got carried away with experiments, and at the centre of it all he or she has turned into the lab rat. The experiments were meant to improve mankind, perhaps even save it, but things did not go according to plan, and a very affable relative of Morgan also plays a role. You'll learn all of this in a playable intro sequence, which immediately immersed us into the game. It looks convincing at first sight, and you can see the hallmarks of Arkane Studios, quickly getting an idea how stylish everything will be. It's like Bioshock Infinite in space - and that's a compliment.

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Morgan Yu quickly peeks behind the scenes and realises that Talos 1 is full of danger. Already at the first entrance of the large lobby, which also serves as a kind of hub, it becomes clear that this will not be a small game. Just exploring the offices, the medical station, and the IT security area reveal several options to achieve the required goal. You can avoid enemies or fight them, depending on how you choose to spend your experience points on Neuromods, which unlock various abilities.

The gameplay is initially designed for action, with less stealth. Later on, however, things will be much more complex as you unlock the alien skills, something we wrote about in our first preview. At least in the first hours it does not seem possible to completely avoid the aliens. Either way we're equipped with plenty of tools to get rid of them. First you'll have to rely on the ever trustworthy wrench. Morgan then quickly discovers a Gloo-Gun, which can catch aliens in a high-tech foam layer. This leaves them much easier to deal with - especially helpful when faced with the fast and very aggressive phantoms, who annoy us with their mixture of acid spitting and morphing. The small Mimic forms aren't much better, and if they come in packs things can quickly escalate. A shotgun is of course very helpful too, but unfortunately it loses potency with time or breaks down completely, just like Morgan's protective suit.

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