Gameplanet: How long have you been working on Prey 2?
Matt Bisenius: After we finished Prey, we started dabbling around with Prey 2 ideas, and what we could do with it. We kind of just set that aside because we were working on some other projects. Then in 2009 we signed with Bethesda, and that's really where we fired up the game as it is today.
Gameplanet: How have you used the id Tech engine to amplify this "alien noir" theme you've been aiming for?
Bisenius: Well, id Tech 4 has been heavily modified from where it started. We've taken it a long way over the years, and we've done a lot to the renderer in regards to reflection, and adding more realistic lighting. We're really accommodating the engine to work for our game as opposed to producing just a linear shooter, so we've modified a lot of id 4.
Gameplanet: We see a lot of influence from the likes of Mass Effect, Killzone and Mirror's Edge, something Human Head have alluded to themselves. No danger of a "design by committee" mentality creeping in?
Bisenius: We're influenced by many games, definitely, but what we did was take a good idea – this bounty hunter concept – and build that from the ground up. We have a very solid bounty hunter game, and with that we have awesome navigation mechanics, combat and gadgets that feed this character archetype. So it may have similarities to a lot of other games, but ultimately it's Prey 2 bounty hunter gameplay.
Gameplanet: Do we learn why Killian becomes a bounty hunter?
Bisenius: You do. That's all I can say! (laughs) There's a lot of story you're going to learn playing through Prey 2, and a lot of it is the history of Killian, and how he came to be a bounty hunter and what he's been doing on Exodus for all these years.
Gameplanet: What sort of cover system are we going to see?
Bibsenius: The cover system is extremely accessible. It's very fluid and fast action with a single button press that makes you slide to cover. If there's cover in the way you'll slide right up to it. Once you're already in cover, you can blind fire your weapon, or use ironsights to pop up out of cover. If you hit the jump button, you can jump over cover and proceed to the next point. So it's extremely fluid and accessible for any gamer.
Gameplanet: You've mentioned that the reputation system is similar to Rockstar's Red Dead Redemption?
Bibsenius: That's pretty much the case. It is similar to other games out there insofar as your reputation gains when you do good things, and it decreases as you do bad things.
Gameplanet: What kind of things?
Bibsenius: It's a little more general, it's not specific things. Gaining or losing reputation will appear at times throughout the game, it's quite common actually. Pushing someone over a ledge might not give you bad reputation, but if you shoot down an innocent party of ten people it could take a hit. As you do missions, depending on who you're working for, your reputation could go either way. So if your mission is to kill a hundred civilians, that would hurt your reputation. If you're working for the shop owner and do some missions to help him clean out some of the riff-raff in his neighbourhood, that would improve your reputation.
Gameplanet: Can you run us through the weapon modifications?
Bibsenius: We have 40 different weapon combinations built on five basic weapon types, so the upgrading is extremely extensive. We're calling them schematics. You can get all these different schematics that build in different rates of fire, spread, scopes, silencing, there's lots of different things that can go into this schematic. Through that we have a very broad range of weapons for the player.
Gameplanet: You don't think it's a bit risky not offering multiplayer this time around?
Bibsenius: I don't think it's risky at all. By not offering multiplayer we're making an amazing single-player game, if we were to do both I think we'd be spread a little too thin to deliver in either category. By not adding multiplayer I think we're delivering an amazing single-player game that is going to exceed expectations
Gameplanet: How does the economy work?
Bibsenius: In Prey 2, you can get money from a variety of sources. You can do missions, search bodies; there's lots of different ways to come across cash. Once you have it you can buy weapons, buy upgrades for those weapons, buy gadgets, ammo types, and you can also buy information. In the world of the bounty hunter that's very important, the location of a bounty for instance. The economy has that loop to it, and continues to pay off as you play.
Gameplanet: What kind of variation can we expect from the aliens?
Bibsenius: We've shown five or six aliens so far, you'll see a handful more species. We have an extremely robust "paper doll" system, so you can swap out a shirt, pants, backpack, hats – all sorts of different stuff, so one species could have a hundred different looks. It really feeds our very dense population system well, so we have what looks to be a very real, living world with people wearing different outfits. So not only different species, but different looks amongst those species.
Gameplanet: We've heard a lot about the non-linear nature of Prey 2 – how does the story remain on track?
Bibsenius: Prey 2 is definitely an open-world game. There are certain aspects that are going to be the same for each player, that's the main story and narrative beats along the way. So each player, no matter how they play, will get these five, 10, 20 different story beats along the way. But in order to get to those story beats, you can take many different routes. There can be a lot of different open-world events, side missions, and all those may point to the story and add different flavour as you go. So it's open, and there's a lot of choice to the player.