He's No Dog, but He's a Bounty Hunter

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Prey was some of the most fun Iíve had playing a game. The atmosphere was great and I loved the combination of portal and anti-gravity mechanics. But, then the demo was over, and I was left with a passable, but dull experience. With that in mind, I wasnít looking forward to Prey 2, but after seeing it at E3, Iím interested.

Compared to the original, Prey 2 is a completely different game. Many of the elements found in the original, including Native American protagonist Tommy (though he will reportedly show up at some point), are gone and replaced with an open-world, choice-based structure. So far, the only tangible connection between the two is how your character ended up in the gameís alien world.

Youíre Killian Samuels, an air marshal who is sucked up by The Sphere, the same mothership that snagged Tommy at the start of the first game. The game then jumps a few years into the future to the planet Exodus. Killian has set up shop as a bounty hunter on the planet, forming the basis for the rest of the gameís action. Youíll take bounties and fulfill them, though the setups wonít always be as easy as tracking someone down and slapping on a pair of cuffs (or, if youíd rather, using lethal force).

One of the goals with Prey 2 is to offer players freedom to work their way though Exodusí Blade Runner-like underworld however they want. One of the more interesting features is the ability to holster Killianís gun. Everyone you meet in the city will react differently. Some will respect your position and either toss information at you, or simply give themselves up on sight. Others might take a little persuasion, though sometimes the very sight of your gun may be enough to sway them.

One example involves an informant, Krux. After tracking him down, heíll offer to tell you what you want to know for a small donation. If you have the money you can pay him, or you can draw your gun and threaten him. Itís possible to threaten anyone in the game, though their reactions wonít always be the same. How you choose to go about your business will also influence gameplay, though how this will work is still a mystery. In the case of Krux, the threat doesnít work until Killian caps Kruxís bodyguard, forcing him to tell you what he knows.

Still, there will be runners, requiring Killian to turn to his array of bounty hunting gadgets to track suspects down. One such tool is a DNA scanner that adds an overlay to the screen indicating which aliens are worth your time and which are not. A yellow highlight means that alien is a priority, while green means they are clean. A red highlight means theyíre hostile and armed, throwing up an immediate warning flag.

Itís important to note which colors aliens show up as since killing the wrong ones will draw the attention of the police. Exodus isnít the most civilized planet in the universe, but it isnít a shooting gallery either. Youíll need to find ways to blend in and use your gadgets, not just your firearms, to help track down bounties. Killian has access to nearly 20 gadgets, with more than 40 different upgrades. Keeping with the goal of player freedom, upgrades are meant to work alongside your play style. If youíre the sort of player who prefers aggressive negotiations to surrender, you can pile on the weapons upgrades. If you want to add stealth to your repertoire, you can equip stealth enhancements.

My favorite gadget is the hover boots, which should come in handy during chase sequences. Kruxís information leads to a bounty who decides to run after a brief shoot-out. After a short of a free-running sequence -- Prey 2 uses a slick free-running system -- the bounty falls to the ground and begs for his life. He even goes so far as to offer you double whatever your employer is offering. The choice is up to you Ė complete the original bounty or screw over your employer -- though youíll have to learn to live with the consequences.

Prey 2 is a drastically different concept, but thatís part of what makes it such an enticing game. There are sure to be a few connections to the original, and Iím interested in seeing just how decisions will impact later parts of the game.

Prey 2 is slated for release next year, leaving plenty of time for more answers.