When Prey was rebooted, I initially had some difficulty getting into it. The initial release was a very challenging experience and the performance at time was not at its best when on the Xbox One S, namely that reactor stage when the frame rate actually went into the single digits. Thankfully, over time Arkane and Bethesda made a lot of updates for it. They added a New Game Plus feature so I was able to get into the game again with all of my skills and Typhon abilities intact. New modifiers were added to make the game more challenging such as physical disabilities (head trauma, burns, hemorrhaging and broken bones) that required special treatment. But most importantly for me, they added enhancements for Xbox One X that made the game play much better, and finally the Reactor level now performs the way it should have in the first place!
Repeated playthroughs in New Game Plus made the game much more enjoyable afterwards, and as a result it ended up being the game I want Bioshock to turn back into. But there was one more addition that was added that I wanted to try out, and finally did. It was the Mooncrash expansion pack, a whole new procedural generated “Rogue-like” game mode set in the Prey universe.
As stated in the title, Prey: Mooncrash does not take place onboard the orbiting Talos I station like in the main game, but rather on the Moon, specifically Transtar’s Pytheas facility. And instead of playing as a Transtar executive, your character is a hacker named Peter, who has been hired by Transtar’s corporate rival, Kasma Corp. to investigate exactly what happened. Peter is actually located orbiting the Moon in a habitation module complete with its own Looking Glass interface. Similar to Assassin’s Creed’s Animus system, Peter uses the LG to assume the identity of five characters that were on Pytheas for their own reasons.
First, there is Andrius Alekna, a frail “volunteer” who uses his newly acquired Neuromod abilities to escape Pytheas in the hopes of reuniting with his young son. Then there is the engineer, Joan Winslow, whose specialties include increased health (double that of Andrius’) and can summon turrets as her special ability, but has no PSI ability. Security officer Vijay Bhatia also has high health, but low PSI. However his specialty is weapons, defaulting with a shotgun and an Artax Propulsion System.
Next is Riley Yu, cousin of both Alex and Morgan Yu from the main game, and the administrator of Pytheas. Riley also has the Psychoscope as a default item which like in the main game can be used to scan Typhon organisms and unlock other Typhon abilities. And lastly there is Claire Whitten, a “custodian” who because of her role, specializes in stealth and has her own agenda aboard Pytheas that makes her not completely what she seems to be.
At the start of the game, only the Volunteer is accessible, but by completing certain objectives, the other characters will be available to play, with each character also having their own side story to unlock.
The main objective of the game is to get each of the five characters to escape from Pytheas. While some of these escapes are very simple, such as using an escape pod or shuttle, the others can be quite complicated and require the actions of other characters, namely the escape via a Mimic Portal. The final goal is to get all five characters to escape in a single simulation run.
I say a single simulation run because as Mooncrash is a “rogue like” experience, the world of Pytheas is procedurally generated. While the main layout consisting of the Crater, Crew Annex, MoonWorks, and Pytheas Lab are all the same, items and Typhon are always in different locations in each run. When all available characters either escape or are killed, the simulation is reset and all the elements will change. Further into the experience certain simulation runs will include environmental hazards such as no oxygen on the Crater, fire hazards, or radiation leaks. To make matters worse, a Corruption meter is added to the fold, and with each never level added, the invading Typhon becomes more dangerous. However with each simulation reset, be it forced or manually executed, the Corruption meter will also reset to Level 1.
Fortunately the character abilities earned throughout successive runs are not reset. In addition, with each run through the simulation, Sim points are earned which can be used to start each character off with additional items to their default loadout. These points also carry over from simulation to simulation so it’s safe to say that Mooncrash was designed for multiple runs. Item fabrication plans found on board Pytheas also get carried over to your pre-simulation purchases. Yet as a result of constantly failed runs the game started to give me a sensation of “Groundhog Day,” repeating the same experience ad nauseam.
But I have to say that maybe in the end that might be a good thing. Because when you get all these new abilities added to your characters, being able to take each of the characters to their full potential and making a desire to get all five off of Pytheas in a single simulation run much higher, and for some strange reason, I kept coming back to it for me.
Believe me, the frustration was a bit overwhelming for me at times but it was worth it. While most DLCs seem to disappoint me in the end, I didn’t feel that way with Mooncrash. I really enjoyed my experience, and while I admit I have yet to complete the ultimate objective I still am going back to it for me.
And that’s why this review took so long to make. I apologize to those who expected a review from someone who completed the game, but I will be honest about not finishing it. I will say in the end the Mooncrash experience is something I recommend to anyone who owns Prey, and even at $20, there is enough depth to warrant its purchase. Hopefully someday I will get all five employees off of Pytheas in the same run. It will be a huge weight off my back!
Pros: Constantly changing scenario. Five characters to play as, each with their own side story. Teamwork, as well as inventory control, necessary to get the best possible ending. A lot of depth for a $20 DLC
Cons: Repeated playthroughs can get very frustrating in terms of difficulty. Feelings of “Groundhog Day” start to settle in.
Todd’s Notes: An Xbox One review copy Prey: Mooncrash was sent to GiN by Bethesda. The views and opinions of this review are completely mine and not influenced by anyone else.