Recently we got to speak with Matt Bisenius – Associate Producer, Human Head Studios about the hotly anticipated PREY 2. I want to thank Matt for answering our questions Pete and Angela at Zenimax for arranging the interview.
What is the storyline for the game and how soon does it follow the events of the first game?
Prey 2 tells the story of Killian Samuels, a US Marshal who was abducted during the same events that kicked off Prey. Killian was aboard an airplane crossing over Oklahoma that gets sucked up to the Sphere (mother ship) hovering over Earth. This wreckage is actually encountered by Tommy Towadi, the protagonist of Prey, during his journey to destroy the Sphere.
While the same events are responsible for starting off each game, the sequel quickly takes a turn and explores a new part of the Prey universe. Following the crash landing on the Sphere, Killian is taken by a race of slavers to a distant planet he calls Exodus.
Killian awakes on this planet and it’s made immediately clear that he has been here for much longer than perceived. In the time passed, Killian has established himself on Exodus by converting his skills from being a US Marshal into that of being a Bounty Hunter. He also learns that he’s the only human (that is, until he encounters Tommy), he’s made a handful of friends, and has made a lot of enemies.
Through Prey 2 the player is tasked with uncovering Killian’s past, taking missions as a bounty hunter in the present, and uncovering the greater looming mysteries of the very near future.
Why did it take until now for a sequel to be announced as many people expected it to be announced within a year of the release of the first game?
Immediately following the release of Prey Human Head Studios began work on other projects. In the summer of 2009, Human Head Studios signed with BSW and, together, began work on Prey 2.
Bethesda Softworks: We announce games when the timing is right – and that’s now!
What types of weapons will be available to players and will spirit walking be included?
The new protagonist, Killian, has a whole new bag of weapons and gadgets that speak to the bounty hunter thematic.
His gadgets run the gamut but fall into one of several categories. There are gadgets to incapacitate enemies (Boladeros, Anti-Gravity Grenades), to kill enemies (Frag Grenades, Rockets), to assist with navigation (Hover Boots), to provide a tactical advantage during combat (Hex-Shield), and to provide info (Scanner), and some other types as well.
In all we’ll have over 20 gadgets with up to 40 upgrades in all. The number of gadgets available to the player allows them to take a unique approach to any given situation. The gadgets by themselves are quite a lot of fun and are very beneficial when facing a tricky situation but what puts them over the top is their ability to be used in conjunction with the weapons. Killian can be shooting and reloading his pistol at the same time Shoulder-mounted rockets are being fired.
Regarding weapons, Killian will have 40 different weapon configurations built from 5 core weapon types.
Will portals be a part of the game and if so how have they been enhanced since the original?
Portals were part of the Sphere which met its demise in Prey when Tommy drove it into the sun. While portals made for an interesting gameplay device and excellent features to extend our puzzles, it really has no place in Prey 2 thematically or through gameplay. We’re introducing a set of mechanics that are new to the first-person shooter market and will serve the same function of providing a fresh experience to players.
What enemies will players face and will there be vehicles that players can use?
The player will not have access to vehicles in Prey 2.
The player will encounter a variety of new species in Prey 2, as well as a number of re-envisioned species from Prey. There is a system in place to mix and match costuming on the aliens to provide a greater sense of variety in the world. Seeing as it’s an open world game, variety in the general population goes a long way towards conveying the sense of a living world, especially across different levels.
More specifically, regarding enemies and combat variation, species will share a range of weaponry and varied alien tactics. The player will also encounter the occasional individual exotic/alien ability such as teleporting. It’s also important to note that in an open world NPCs can become enemies at any point. It’s not always cut and dry as to who has the means and agenda to hurt you so as a player there’s another layer of gameplay that is being conscious of everyone in your immediate surroundings.
Another interesting aspect that ties in to the Bounty Hunter role is that many enemies must be captured and taken alive so gunning them down would result in mission failure, or for enemies that must be captured alive or dead, it becomes player choice how to take them down. This makes for a very fresh and unique first-person shooter experience.
PREY had many puzzles for players to solve, will the new game be more or less puzzle centric?
Prey 2 is much more focused on agile combat, fluid navigation and open world exploration. This doesn’t mean that the player won’t have to use their wits to figure out the best way to approach the various situations they encounter in the game.
Puzzle solving becomes more about tactically reading the situation and determining how to approach given the player’s current gadget/weapon loadouts, the enemies encounters, and the location itself. There are always multiple ways to tackle each encounter, which — depending upon the encounter — are more or less effective. While playing the game, the player will learn which tactics work best for each situation based upon the encounter, their loadouts, and their own personal play style.
What can you tell us about the gaming engine and what it will bring to the table?
Work on the technology began immediately after Prey 1 shipped in 2006, with idTech 4 as our base. Throughout development we’ve revamped and evolved the engine focusing on physically based lighting, virtual texturing, and large open worlds in order to build the beautiful and unique open-world experience of Prey 2.
Physically-based lighting means all of our lighting is based on the real physics of light, including real world values for all light sources and materials. The lighting system seamlessly mixes dynamic deferred lighting and shadows with very complex pre-computed effects such as soft shadows, glossy reflection, and global illumination. Combine this with a practically unlimited texture budget provided by virtual texturing and you get a result typically found only in offline CG.
Trust me, you haven’t seen anything like this before.
What are some of the locales gamers will see in the game?
Prey 2 takes place on Exodus which is a tidally locked planet. Similar to how the same face of the moon is always facing Earth, the same face of Exodus is always facing their sun. This results in a hot/light and cold/dark side of the planet. Between the two extremes you have a thin in habitable ring of life. Up until now, we’ve showed the Bowery – a location which is located right in the middle between dark and light and is at permanent dusk. Throughout the game the player will unlock and freely travel between a few other locales including one more skewed towards the light and another towards the dark.
All of these locales share a common theme of ‘Alien Noir’.
What type of multiplay will the game offer?
There is no multiplayer in Prey 2. With Bethesda’s great knowledge of the single-player open world genre and our drive to create a fantastic open world first person shooter, we opted to take multiplayer out of the equation. Our primary goal is to create a fun, engaging, and memorable single-player experience.
Blending action with a detailed plot can always be tricky, how have you attempted to create this in Prey 2?
While Prey 2 does provide lots of great action it also takes time to let the player catch their breath and absorb some story. The conveyance of story will occur through a variety of means which we are not talking about yet.
What are some of the biggest obstacles you see in creating the game, and what are your biggest goals for the game?
We’ve managed to modify an engine designed for linear corridor gameplay and convert it into an open world shooter with new parkour-like navigation. This required us to break down the walls (literally) and provide greater draw distances, build new player mechanics from the ground up, new AI and AI pathing, an overhaul on the rendering (physical based lighting, virtual texturing, and more), and to build our levels in an entirely new fashion. The outcome is mind-blowing and we’re excited to show the public more of what we’ve been working on.
Can you tell us about who is doing the voices for the game and the music and what they bring to the production?
Not yet, but we’ll keep you posted!