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Prey Mooncrash Review

William Schwartz on

The perfect reason to come back to one of 2017's best games.

Prey Mooncrash Key Art

Prey was one of the best games of 2017.  One of the problems with it was, there was little to do after you’d seen all there is to see in the first-person adventure.  Like Arkane Studios’ previous effort in Dishonored and Dishonored 2, Prey was a game that allowed players to attack the story of the game in any way they saw fit, with the ability to find tons of weapons and unlock abilities for what was essentially a unique playthrough of the game for every player.

The developer’s DLC for Dishonored and Dishonored 2 were game-extending content in terms of story with expansions of the gameplay ideas with things like new skills to learn and master.  With Prey: Mooncrash, Arkane has offered up another piece of single player downloadable content that was worth the wait for anyone that enjoyed 2017’s Prey.  If you wanted a reason to head back into this incredible world, this is it.  Mooncrash is a unique spin on the single player DLC formula, combining the world expansion that we’ve seen from other Arkane DLCs, while spicing things up with their take on AAA roguelike.

moonbase-crew-prey

The overarching story of Mooncrash is that you are playing the role of a hacker named Peter.  After losing communication with the Pytheas Facility, Peter is sent to investigate the situation. To do so he enters into a simulation of five different employees on the base.  You don’t actually play much with Peter in this DLC, the lion’s share of the time is spent controlling the five characters as they try to escape the base through different means.  The overall objective — escape with the five different crew members without dying.  Think of that as a far out goal as you learn the map, learn  the different escape routes, and the correct ways to use each character.

Mooncrash is definitely worth coming back to Prey for

Mooncrash has roguelike elements.  This means that there is permanent progression in the game for each of the five characters, but if you die you have to start from the beginning. There are no checkpoints.  You either escape with a character or he/she is permanently dead for that specific run until the simulation is restarted. You take the permanent unlockables that you found back out of the game and then you can start over anew with your five character roster.  This eventually leads to a point where you’ve become familiar enough with the map, characters, and have leveled them up enough to make a run at getting all five into the various escape methods.

The permanent progression elements are in the character’s overall capabilities, available weaponry and items.  As you progress, you’ll collect power-up points and spend them on your character’s abilities, you’ll also be finding tons of different loot to help you on any specific run, as well as schematics that permanently unlock these items for fabrication.  You’ll die a lot in Prey: Mooncrash, but that’s OK.  You’re also earning credits as you go that can then be used to purchase items to take with you into any simulation run.  Hypothetically, this should make things easier.  Well this is not always the case as just as you think you have things figured out in the game, Arkane likes to change things up on you with different enemy placements, environmental hazards, blocked passages, locked doors, and other map altering stuff that can really throw a wrench into a situation if you don’t see it coming.

prey-mooncrash-crater-image

There’s really two major parts to Mooncrash.  The first is completing the objectives in the game to unlock all of the characters.  During this trip, you’re learning the map and getting most of the story out of the game in the process.  Once you’ve got all of the characters, then you go for the five character escape.  There’s a ton in between these two points, and things to learn about the game in the process.  Mooncrash basically takes all the systems from the base game and eloquently jams them into a smaller map while layering over new rules, like a Corruption Meter for example.  While you’ll already have to deal with a Moonshark that tracks your footsteps, plenty of mimics, security drones, and other creatures, they’ll also get harder the longer that you take and the higher that the Corruption Meter goes.  The flip side, you can find items that allow you to set the timer back a bit.  You’re constantly scavenging for items like health, ammunition, as well as anything that can help you survive a little longer.  It’s a roguelike for sure, but Mooncrash feels like one the smartest and deepest.

AAA Rougelike with layers of depth

If this isn’t enough, you’re also putting together the pieces of a bigger puzzle.  This big puzzle is the way that the characters you’re controlling all fit together in terms of abilities, and how you have to use them to get each one off the Moonbase.  Each escape route has different criteria to be accessed and used and each crew member will play a role in unlocking them.  The combination of this puzzle-like structure, while against the clock, and while fighting off the already alarming enemies of Prey, makes this a great piece of DLC. It’s actually quite thought provoking in terms of what it asks of the player without giving them much information to go on.  It unravels naturally like a single player game, while giving you both a sense of urgency and the fear of progress halting death.  Prey: Moonbase starts out mysterious and then turns into a task oriented roguelike, a hybrid of the gameplay found in Prey where there are some much different rules in play.  When I initially saw the DLC with the rest of the world at Bethesda’s E3 Press Conference, I thought it sounded pretty gimmicky.  After sinking many hours into this DLC since then, it’s actually a pretty amazing piece of content that is definitely worth coming back to Prey for.

The Verdict

Arkane leverages Prey’s strengths in gameplay with a roguelike twist on story delivery for one of the best DLCs of the year.

"loved"
loved

Prey: Mooncrash

  • Available On: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC
  • Published By: Bethesda Softworks
  • Developed By: Arkane Studios
  • Genre: First Person Shooter
  • US Release Date: June 10th, 2018
  • Reviewed On: Xbox One
  • Quote: "Arkane leverages Prey's strengths in gameplay with a rogue like twist on story delivery for one of the best DLCs of the year."
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