Prey was one of my standout games for 2017. Though it didn’t see quite the success that was anticipated, it managed to wow a relatively large crowd of gamers with its survival horror/first-person shooter mechanics and the spooky and varied environments of Talos I. As positively as it was received, it seemed like Bethesda was done with Prey. After all, the game is a year old at this point. However, at E3 2018 Prey: Mooncrash, a standalone DLC, was announced. Furthermore, it was released the same day.
I’ve had the opportunity to play through Prey: Mooncrash and as odd as the announcement and release was it’s obvious this DLC isn’t some afterthought just thrown out to score a few bucks. Mooncrash packs enough content to be a separate title in its own right and brings an entirely new system of play while still featuring a spooky, space-based environment with a story that ties into the main game.
Prey: Mooncrash Review: Over the Moon
In the base game of Prey, you’re constantly dodging death. You’re outnumbered, mimics are continually jumping at you, and there’s always a sense of paranoia that your demise will lurk around the next corner. This struggle to survive in an unfamiliar environment that was frequently changing is one of the core aspects that make the game so enthralling. However, Prey: Mooncrash puts a twist on this that changes the bar for what you have to do to complete the game.
In Prey: Mooncrash you have to die. It’s practically essential to complete the DLC. You take the role of a spy living on a small satellite observing TranStar’s lunar facility. A disaster has occurred there, and you’re tasked by Kasma Corp, your employer and TranStar’s rival, to investigate what happened by running through a simulation compiled from data recovered from the facility. You’ll have to live through the disaster through the eyes of five different TranStar employees, each with their own objectives and means of escape.
Prey: Mooncrash Review: Die Another Day
There are a few twists with this simulation that makes completing all five stories a bit more complicated than just running from point A to point B. The most immediate threat is a timer in the form of simulation corruption. As you play Mooncrash there is a gauge in the upper right corner of the screen. When the meter fills, the simulation’s corruption level will increase. At level one, you’ll be facing standard Typhon who don’t pose much of a threat. Each time the level increases, though, your enemies will get stronger and stronger Typhon will begin to spawn.
There’s also the need to achieve a canon ending for each character. There are multiple ways to escape, but there’s only one canon way for each character. The catch is that each of the character’s story objectives is locked until you escape with them using a certain method one time. The primary aim is to complete each character’s story goals and a list of objectives from Kasma Corp to piece together the simulation and unravel the mystery of what happened at the moonbase.
However, inevitably before you complete any of the tasks before you, you’re going to hit a wall. Either the corruption level will destroy the simulation (which happens when it hits level five), or one of your five characters will die. That’s not a huge deal though, because you can reset the simulation and try again. Each character has unique upgrades that you have to unlock with neuromods, but those carry over between simulations. You’ll also earn sim points you can use to buy items like guns and medkits before you start a simulation. The longer you play, the more sim points and items you’ll have access.
Prey: Mooncrash is a roguelite in the way that you’re expected to start over again and again. For example, some doors in the moonbase may take Repair III to open. Well, it might take five or six simulator resets before the one character who has access to that skill can actually level it up that high. Slowly but surely though your team will become more and more capable and you’ll reach your goal.
Prey: Mooncrash Review: Moonage Daydream
The expansion has about 10 hours or so of content available, and it makes a good complement to the main game. If you already own Prey, you can pick Mooncrash up for $19.99. If not, you can pick up the Prey: Deluxe Edition for $39.99 which includes both Prey and Mooncrash. It’s a great standalone mode that gives you more of the same spooky sci-fi exploring from the base game mixed with a roguelite playstyle that keeps things fresh.
Bethesda could have written Prey off with no further support, or released a DLC that just did more of the same, but it didn’t. Prey: Mooncrash is an excellent expansion to a great game and adds enough of a twist to feel fresh and exciting.