Prey: Release date, gameplay and everything you need to know

CNET went hands-on with Bethesda's upcoming sci-fi horror game. Read on for more information about killing aliens and turning into cups.

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What is Prey?

Prey is an upcoming sci-fi stealth shooter from Arkane Studios, who you probably know from steampunk stealth shooters (they have a type) Dishonored and Dishonored 2. Prey shares a lot of its DNA with those two games, down to the multiple paths through levels, RPG elements and options for creative puzzle solving.

What's it about?

The teaser trailer at E3 showed off a creepy "Groundhog-Day" style setup as you had just the worst day ever at work. Except you're a scientist on a space station and not a weatherman in Punxsutawney.

I got to go hands-on with the first hour or so of the game, and I can confirm that you've got bigger issues than prognosticating rodents. You play as Morgan Yu (you get to select your gender and make a few other choices that alter the story) on a sprawling space station. Said station is infested with hostile alien lifeforms that can masquerade as everyday objects.

The research team inhabiting the station didn't deal with the aliens so well, so it's on you to work out exactly what's going on and not, y'know, die. The problem is that your team was working on bleeding-edge genetic modification and it's played havoc with your memories, so you really don't know what's going on.

What's the gameplay like?

My hands-on preview of the early parts of the game really reinforced those gameplay similarities with the Dishonored series. It's a stealth shooter, and while I didn't feel the need to sneak around early on, I can see how the enemies might necessitate the quiet approach later on. Unlike Dishonored which had discrete levels, Prey takes the Metroidvania approach. You've got access to the entire contiguous station, limited only by your abilities.

I could see the influences from other sci-fi games coming at me thick and fast. Mimics had a real Headcrab vibe to them. It's got an Elder-Scrolls level of side material with all the emails and other random notes to discover. Both the story and the gameplay gave me a bit of a BioShock (and, by extension System Shock) vibe. So between the gene splicing, retro-futurist architecture, lost memories and hitting things with a wrench, Prey has the pedigree.

Prey includes a huge skill tree that allows you to play around with crazy alien powers. That's not even getting to the various weapons, like the glue gun and my favourite, the nerf blaster. While none of the alien powers were available in the demo I played, I have been assured that you can go to town further into the game. Yes, you can use your newfound alien powers to turn into coffee cups.

Cups?

And chairs. No one ever expects the chairs.

Is it like that other Prey game?

We don't talk about the other Prey game. OK, so the 2017 Prey was originally meant to be a sequel to the 2006 Prey, but after that version of the 2017 Prey was scrapped, this version of 2017 Prey was announced as a reboot of the series. All clear?

Bethesda

What else should I know?

Expect to fall in love with Mick Gordon's soundtrack. The Melbourne-based artist previously brought his heavy industrial sound to Doom. He's infusing Prey with a creepy electronic soundscape that perfectly sets the tone for the sci-fi thriller.

When can I play it?

Prey will be released in May 2017. You'll be able to play it on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

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