Prey: Mooncrash – Review

When rumors about moon DLC for Prey started to surface, the most obvious conclusion we jumped to was story-based content, but with Prey Mooncrash there’s more to it than meets the blood-shot eye.

In fact, Arkane Studios may have just created one of the most imaginative and interesting pieces of content in Prey: Mooncrash that we’ve seen in the last few years.

What is Prey: Mooncrash?

Great question, but the answer isn’t a simple one. The good news is that Prey: Mooncrash is part story, but it’s also part shooter, part time trial, and part rogue-like. Amazingly, though, all the components work together marvelously.

You start out as M-13, an operative for KASMA Corp, who communicates with the enigmatic ‘Basilisk’. Your job is to comb through a recovered vault operator filled with research data discovered on TranStar’s secret Moonbase, Pytheas.

Using a simulator chair, you’re put into the guise of five different agents, each one unlocked by fulfilling set conditions and it’s up to you to help them escape. If you do that, you’ll fulfill your contract to KASMA Corp and can go home to your family.

This may sound a little bit Desmond Miles / Assassin’s Creed, but as you’ll soon discover, the similarities are actually quite slender. You’ll start the game – or as you’ll soon come to call it, your run – with Andrius Alekna. The bald-headed psychic has a kinetic blast to vanquish enemies, but also uses superthermal, backlash and burrow abilities to plough through Typhon.

Eventually, you’ll unlock and get to play as Vijay Bhatia, Claire Whitten, Joan Winslow, and Pytheas Director, Riley Yu.

 

To begin with, each character has a set objective and is told to escape Pytheas in a certain way. Though as you explore the Moonbase, you’ll learn about different ways you can escape, such as piloting a shuttle, stowing away in a crate with consumables, or reaching the final escape pod.

Your overall aim in Prey: Mooncrash is to escape with all five characters during one run with none of them dying. But if they do die, they are perma-dead for that run – yikes – so you’ll have to reset the simulation to attempt an all-in run again.

The beauty of Prey: Mooncrash, however, is that even if someone does die, it’s not game over. You can still escape with the remaining four and free-roam around Pytheas, learn more about the characters, story, architecture, hidden secrets. Or just shoot things. Whatever comes naturally to you.

The point is, Arkane, Bethesda and the rest of the world don’t expect you to fully complete Mooncrash in one sitting the first time out. You might, but you’re supposed to learn the routes, come up with new strategies, and gradually figure things out.

 

Outside of the main objective, there are also various side objectives to complete on the KASMA Corp checklist which, in turn, earn you Sim points. These are tallied up at the end of each run, whether you’ve been killed on the way to your main objective or you manage to escape the Moonbase. These can then be spent on the next character to fill up their inventory slots before a run.

Points can be earned by simply killing a Mimic, or through more elaborate means like discovering a dead crew member or picking up some Fabrication Plans. The more obscure an objective, the more Sim points you’ll collect.

Sim points can then be spent on things like additional medkits, bullets, weapons, chipsets and other equipment to give you an edge ahead of each run, and you’re certainly going to need any advantage you can get, especially when the Corruption levels kick in. This is where the time trial / speedrunning aspect of the content comes into play as there is a sand timer in the top right hand of the screen constantly ticking down.

Starting at Level One, you’ll face basic Mimics, Phantoms and Wailers. But once the Corruption level increases, enemies get tougher, they’re more frequent and you get even more sinister nasties to deal with.

Basically, the sooner you can escape, the better.

Prey: Mooncrash sounds…crazy!

Yeah, this is some seriously busy content, because you’ll need to consider things like individual character weaknesses and strengths, where they spawn, what things they encounter during their run, let alone what to upgrade using your chipsets and what abilities to upgrade through neuromods. I’m not even kidding when I say there’s at least 15 hours worth of content to get through here. Possibly more.

Admittedly, Mooncrash still suffers from those horrendous loading screens and that definitely kills a lot of the games’ momentum as well as your attention span. This is also still Prey at its core, so despite the differences if you weren’t a fan of the game originally, you may not get on with this either. That said, Arkane Studios have managed to craft something that will appeal to a broader demographic than ever before.

Speedrunners will want to test their skills and compete with their rivals, adventurers will want to explore every nook and cranny to learn as much as they can about Pytheas. Survivalists will want the ultimate challenge and will love butting heads with the terrifying Moonshark as well as the rest of the Typhon. And then there’s the fact that this is all procedurally generated, which changes the layout of the base every time you play.

There’s even a new weapon in the Psychostatic Cutter, which is a bit like a Lightsaber dagger.

Mooncrash is more than just a piece of DLC, it fundamentally changes Prey from the ground up while still remaining faithful to Arkane Games’ original vision. Where you’ll find a lot of DLC is just more of the same and feels tacked on, you can see a lot of time, care, thought, and attention has gone into building this smartly and delicately.

And the best news of all, Mooncrash gives Prey hope for the future. If Arkane Studios can put something like this together as an expansion to their original idea, imagine what they could accomplish with a full-blown sequel.

When I’m not playing Prey: Mooncrash, I’m thinking about Prey: Mooncrash. It is easily one of the best pieces of content for any game this generation and if you’ve somehow not played Prey yet, there has never been a better time to start.


Pros

+ Smart gameplay evolutions
+ Hours of content
+ Various ways to play and procedurally generated layouts
+ Something for all types of gamer
+ Gives franchise hope for the future

Cons

– Those loading screens are terrible


Prey: Mooncrash

9 out of 10

Tested on Xbox One

Code provided by the publisher

About the author

Ray Willmott

Ray is the founder and editor of Expansive. He is also a former Community Manager for Steel Media, and has written for a variety of gaming websites over the years. His work can be seen on Pocket Gamer, PG.biz, Gfinity, and the Red Bull Gaming Column. He has also written for VG247, Videogamer, GamesTM, PLAY, and MyM Magazine,