Prey or Prey 2 — that is the question. Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the risk of ruining an outrageously successful game or taking a chance against a sea of troubles and create something totally new.
Shakespeare’s Hamlet aside, the trailer for Bethesda’s hot property, Prey, has some in the industry arguing about whether the game will be a sequel or a reboot of the original game that came out in 2006.
— VG247 (@VG247) June 13, 2016
Lucy James, during Gamespot’s “Best New Games at E3 2016” recap, stressed that “it’s not Prey 2. It’s Prey.”
“Prey has officially been rebooted per an E3 2016 trailer,” Design & Trend reported.
And GameNGuide proclaims in a headline, “Prey Debut Trailer Confirms New Title Not A Sequel.”
However, Polygon states, “Prey 2 is back and very, very different.”
— Gamasutra (@gamasutra) June 13, 2016
And Dalibor Dimovski points out in his blog, SideQuesting, “Prey is back, but it’s not the Prey you remember.”
So, what is the project that Bethesda has slated for a 2017 release? Is it a sequel to the original Prey or a reboot? A start to answering this question would be to recall key aspects from the original title.
The original Prey’s story revolved around the theme of alien invasion. Thousands, maybe even millions of people are abducted into a massive alien craft, which is, in reality, an organic living vessel. The humans were being processed into food for the strange vehicle and the creatures that roamed inside of it. One man escapes his confines and becomes the sole hope for the human race.
The Prey trailer revealed at this year’s E3 did not disclose enough about the plot to determine how closely related the two games are in that respect. However, enough was revealed that some drastic differences can be discerned.
Warning: Spoilers for the original Prey are abundant in the next several paragraphs. Skip to the last three paragraphs of the article if you have not played the 2006 game.
First, the protagonist in the trailer, named Morgan Yu, is either Caucasian (by appearance) or Asian (by name). The protagonist in the original game was named Domasi Tawodi, also called “Tommy,” and he was a Native American, a Cherokee to be precise.
The difference in race is important because it plays a huge role in the first Prey. In the original title, Tommy gained spiritual powers from his uncle who was murdered by the alien craft. His uncle, released from mortal bonds, acted as a spirit guide and trained Tommy in a type of Cherokee spiritual combat.
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If the protagonist in the supposed reboot is of a race other than Native American, an important game mechanic of the original game is lost unless it is explained in an entirely new way.
The second big difference is that the trailer shows the period of the game as being set in 2032. The original Prey was set in a more present time, in or around 2006, when the game was released. This difference would suggest at the very least that the events in the game occur after the events in the original, which by definition would make it a sequel.
The third difference seen in the Prey trailer is that the principal antagonist in the trailer appears to be an Earthly organization, rather than a massive alien spacecraft. While the trailer does show some alien-looking creatures getting blasted in first-person shooter style, the environments look like standard Earthbound locales and human-manufactured space vessels. The inside of the alien craft in the original looked very strange and foreign. There is no hint of that in the trailer. However, it can be said that Tommy started out the original game in a very mechanical and regular part of the ship before getting to the levels that had gooey organic material everywhere. So the trailer could be showing that early part of the ship.
The differences between the Prey trailer shown at E3 2016 and the original game are significant enough to indicate that the upcoming title is going to be a sequel. Bethesda announced in 2008 that a sequel was in the works, but it got put on “indefinite hold” according to Dimovski. Couple this fact with the differences seen, and it is easy to understand why there is so much confusion on whether it is a sequel or a reboot.
To straighten things out, “developers at Arkaine Studios have clarified that this title is not a sequel or remake but a full rebranding,” according to Design & Trend.
Essentially, the new Prey that is coming out next year, seen in the E3 trailer, is more of what one would call a spiritual successor to the original Prey. It is not a sequel, nor is it a reboot of the original. It is an entirely new reimagining of the franchise. Hopefully, the developers reimagine the gameplay elements in a way that is reminiscent of the original since that is what made the original Prey so satisfying.
[Image via Bethesda Softworks]