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Why Prey's Aliens Are Different Than Anything You've Encountered

by Ben Reeves on Dec 07, 2016 at 08:00 AM

In the late 1950s, man first began to reach for the stars. Unfortunately in Prey’s alternate history, the first thing we grabbed hold of was an alien menace called the Typhon. This one small, shadow-like creature proved so hostile to humanity’s existence that our world’s greatest minds locked the creature away inside an orbital space station. Flash forward nearly 70 years, and that small orbital “prison” has grown into a monolithic research facility owned by the mega-corporation TranStar – and that single Typhon has evolved into an entire race of monstrous creatures that could haunt a generation of nightmares. Join us as we take a deeper look into the abilities and behaviors of Prey’s devious new enemies.

Cystoids are the smallest Typhon creatures that players encounter in Prey, but their size can be deceptively disarming. About the size of a softball, these creatures make up for their diminutive size with some explosive firepower, and these little firecrackers tend to travel in packs and live in Cystoid Nests. Cystoids aren’t deep thinkers, so the second they sense movement, they take off on a Kamikaze mission that ends in a tiny explosion. Fortunately, Cystoids kill themselves when they explode, so as long as players are aware of their surroundings, they can easily deal with these nests by tossing a random object in their direction.

Arkane’s Take:
“They have the smallest minds,” says lead designer Ricardo Bare. “They’re like a creature – like a fish – they’re very simple. They’re placed in these nests almost like mines, and they’re attracted to motion – anything like a physics object or a player running past them. [Outside of zero g], they roll on the ground like a carpet of soccer balls chasing you.”

The Mimic was the first Typhon humans encountered, and they are some of the craftiest. These arachnid-like Typhons have the ability to camouflage themselves by assuming the form of nearly any ordinary object within the environment. We saw Mimics become trash cans, coffee mugs, and musical instruments. Mimics are extremely agile and can bounce around the environment, easily dodging gunfire before wrapping their tendrils around their victim’s throat. Players can dismantle these creatures and learn this mimic ability for themselves.

Arkane’s Take:
“They’re sort of the progenitors of the whole ecology,” Bare says. “One Mimic can start the whole thing all over again, if just one survives. Whenever they duplicate, they’re sort of the scouts. After killing a human or any living thing, they sort of absorb their life force, and then they duplicate. And they repeat that process. Of course, in the game, their main function is to hide and ambush the player.”

Phantoms are crew members whose bodies were corrupted by Typhon energy and turned into alien soldiers. Phantoms are some of the most common enemies players encounter during their tour through Talos I. These soldiers unnerve their foes by emitting a ghostly noise that sounds like they’re parroting real human speech, even though they’re incapable of communicating with anyone. Since Phantoms are so common, they also come in a variety of flavors. Thermal Phantoms are pyromaniacs who can light the environment on fire. The Etheric Phantom creates duplicates of itself and emits toxic clouds that damage normal matter. The Voltaic Phantom shocks your system with a barrage of lightning-based attacks.

Arkane’s Take:
“There are different kinds of Phantoms,” Bare says. “The later into the game you go, you start to see more variations on them. Some of it isn’t predetermined, some of its randomized, so you might have a different kind of Phantom than another player, which means you have different access to powers if you’re scanning aliens for powers.”

The only known Typhon with the ability to render itself invisible, the Poltergeist is a master at ambushing its victims. Poltergeists are lurkers; they find a place within their environment and haunt it. Sometimes a Poltergeist won’t even be hostile, and you might only notice it when it starts to play with objects in the environment or when throws something across the room. At other times, a Poltergeist might inexplicably choose to attack you with a levitation spell, which sends you floating a few feet off the ground, making you easy prey for other aliens. The Poltergeists blip in and out of the visible spectrum, which makes them a difficult enemy to get a bead on.

Arkane’s Take:
“It’s like a half-malformed, didn’t-quite-bake-long-enough Phantom,” Bare says. “They’re weaker than the more advanced Phantoms but they’re about on the same level as the base Phantoms. They lurk around and sort of haunt an area and mess around with stuff and get in your head a little, and then wait for an opportunity to start throwing things at you and throw you into the air.”

These Beholder-like beasts aren’t super speedy, but they’re plenty deadly. They casually float through the environment and overpower the minds of anyone unfortunate enough to be in their presence. In addition to commanding a horde of mind-slaves, Telepaths can throw out deadly blasts of psychic energy that brings players to the brink of death.

Arkane’s Take:
“We don’t have anything like boss fights in the game, but because of the way the A.I. works, [Telepaths] feel like a miniboss,” Bare says. “He owns an area and typically has a cluster of humans that he’s taken over. The humans are interesting, because they are aware of the fact that they’ve been possessed, so if they see you they’ll say things like, ‘I can’t stop myself. Run, get away. We’re both going to die,’ that kind of thing. That presents the player with an interesting choice. Do I cap this person, but they’re actually a human being, or do I try to find a way to avoid them or take them down nonlethally?”

We don’t know a lot about the Nightmare, but this hulk is the biggest, strongest, and most dangerous of any Typhon. Reminiscent of the Nemesis monster from Resident Evil 3, the Nightmare constantly chases players through the entire Talos I space station. Those who confront the Nightmare must pull out all the stops if they hope to survive the encounter.

Arkane’s Take:
“The Nightmare was specifically created to kill you, because the Typhons recognize you as some kind of anomaly that’s resisting them and threatening their system,” Bare says. “The more alien powers you install, the more it becomes aware of you and can track you down. That’s a dynamic system. So I can be in the cafeteria somewhere and jam 15 Neuromods into my eye, and all of a sudden hear this huge roar, and the Nightmare is in the level. He’s in the world, hunting you, but he doesn’t know where you are unless you stumble into him or do things like install a bunch of neuromods.”

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