Arkane Knowledge: Five Reasons Dishonored Fans Will Love Prey

Arkane Studios is a big fan of Looking Glass Studios. “I don’t think it’s a secret that with Dishonored we started with Thief in mind, and with Prey we started with System Shock
in mind,” says creative director and president of Arkane Studios
Raphael Colantonio. “You can call us fanboys of those games if you
want.”

Like Looking Glass Studios’ classics, both the Dishonored series and Prey share a philosophy that allows players to find creative solutions to gameplay challenges. And while Prey is far more than “Dishonored in space,” here are five reasons why fans of Arkane’s other big first-person series will want to keep their eye on Prey.

Reason One: Actual Consequences
Those who played Dishonored quickly realized their actions
had consequences. Dishonored players who ruthlessly left dead bodies in their
wake only added to the city’s disease-ridden streets, which ultimately created
more rat swarms and plague victims, which in turn fostered a deadlier environment
to navigate later in the game. On the other hand, some missions were easier to
complete when you could just chop off your target’s head. Fans can expect Prey to
adapt similarly to their playstyle.

“One thing that we believe in very strongly is that the game
should react to the player with actual consequences,” says lead designer
Ricardo Bare. “This is just a subjective point of disagreement, but I think
that some people were complaining about, ‘I picked powers and had fun killing
people and the game said I did bad things,’ and we were like, ‘Yup. You did!’
And we personally like that. We like the game to reflect back, ‘Hey, you did a
bunch of terrible things, and the world is more terrible now.'”

Reason Two: A Lore-Built
World

The Dishonored games weren’t praised for their
storytelling, but they did create rich environments that felt alive. Arkane
spent a long time building the world of Dishonored, but only a portion of that
information went into the game’s script – much of the rest was found in the
library of books, letters, and diaries scattered throughout the game’s
environments.

Like in Dishonored, the lore of the world of Prey is much
bigger than the game itself. Lore hounds will find plenty of information on the
world, its characters, and its history buried into the game’s environments. Some
of this information is contained inside tiny PDA-like devices called TranScribes,
and Arkane even researched the technology behind how these little recorders
might work.

“Fictionally, it’s like everybody’s portable laptop slash
PDA, which is proprietary to TranStar employees,” says Bare. “I get that
there’s one dude who journals, but not everybody journals. It’s a little thing,
but it’s a pet peeve of mine. Can we do this but not do the everybody leaves an
audio log by their dead body kind of thing? Instead, everyone has an instant
messenger device, and those things have conversation histories. Why not have an
audio conversation history, so when you find this dead guy’s thing here’s his
conversation history.”

Reason Three: Clean
Interface

This one doesn’t sound sexy, but a good user interface
goes a long way towards making a game more user-friendly. Dishonored kept its
screen relatively simple, making things like health bars and ammo counts as
unobtrusive as possible. However, Arkane realized sometimes players need
certain information in order to have a better gameplay experience. Still, the
studio believes that even when a game gives players information that its
protagonist would never have, it still needs to deliver that information in an
elegant fashion.

“We have less fear about having an interface that is
exposing some stuff to the player,” says Colantonio. “In Dishonored, we had the
stealth indicator that showed when NPCs could see you. It took us forever to
admit that we needed that. It’s an abstraction the player character doesn’t see.
It’s important information and creates a better game experience, but it’s not
like it’s disrupting the immersion. There was a fear of that initially, but we decided
we needed to give the player the information that’s useful.”

Reason Four: Deeper
RPG Systems

As players explore the space station Talos I, they will
discover a variety of chipsets, which they can use to upgrade their gear and
abilities. These chipsets work a bit like the bone charms in Dishonored, in
that players will be able to equip chipsets in several ways, upgrading the size
of their inventory, granting them the ability to repair things, or using them
to increase the strength of their alien
powers
. Another big change from Dishonored is that players will see the
exact amount of damage they dish out, represented by small numbers popping of enemies
during each attack.

“As you upgrade your firearms skill, as you upgrade your
firearm itself, you see those numbers get bigger,” says lead systems designer
Seth Shain. “And range is a factor, because we don’t want players to annihilate
everything from across the level. Having the numbers present makes the whole
thing feel a little more stat-based. That’s another way we’re a little more
RPG-ish than Dishonored. In Dishonored it was a little more tactical, fast
action stuff. You knew a city guard had about three sword slashes worth of
health, whereas in Prey it’s like you can shoot a mimic with several bullets
from far away or a couple of bullets close up. Or one upgraded bullet.”

Reason Five: Player
Agency

With all its games, Arkane aims to empower players as much
as possible. In Dishonored, players became supernatural assassins with an
impressive array of uncanny powers. However, it was also possible for players
to play through the entire game without killing anyone or without even using
those powers. Prey isn’t as stealthy as Dishonored, and at times, players will
be encouraged to kill the aliens they encounter on Talos I. However, it is
still possible to play Prey without using any of the alien powers. In fact, there
are consequences for using these alien talents – it’s a little bit of a
trade-off. Arkane hopes players will feel a similar level of freedom to tackle
the game’s challenges in a variety of ways.

“We fight really hard for player agency, and we fight really
hard to keep the player as empowered as possible, and sometimes we have to
fight lots of constraints with tech or lots of little problems,” says Shain. “Honestly,
it’s amazing. So many things that show up on YouTube that I’ve seen for
Dishonored are these amazing moments where it’s like, ‘That’s cool, but it
never even occurred to any of us to try that. That is awesome!’ We wouldn’t see
anything like that without Twitch, without YouTube. I’m sure we’ll see a lot more
crazy stuff when Prey releases.”

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