When Prey: Typhon Hunter was announced at E3 2018, details were incredibly scant. We knew it’d be a free download for anyone who owned Prey’s Mooncrash DLC. It would feature an asymmetrical 1v5 multiplayer mode. And there’d be some escape rooms in the mix, too. That’s all that was said.
Fast-forward to more recent times at QuakeCon 2018 and Arkane’s lead designer Ricardo Bare was all too happy to spill the beans on what to expect from the seemingly soon-to-be-released (his inference) DLC in a roundtable discussion. The genesis of the mod was seemingly a mix of the community and a popular Garry’s Mod multiplayer mode.
“Garry’s Mod had a thing called Prop Hunt, which apparently was super fun,” says Bare. “I’d never heard of it, but when we started working on Prey and once the Mimics came online and people saw how they worked, they were like, ‘Man, this would be a really cool multiplayer game, kind of like Prop Hunt.’ So that kind of was the genesis of the idea. We were like, ‘Wow, they’re right, that would be a really fun game. We should do that if we have time.’”
And time they clearly had, but that still doesn’t explain the intricacies of Typhon Hunter’s multiplayer mode. Thankfully, Bare was all too happy to go into detail.
“Typhon Hunter includes a competitive six-player multiplayer mode where one player gets to take on the role of Morgan and five other players get to be Mimics,” explains Bare. “It’s a lethal game of hide-and-seek, where the people hiding are also trying to kill you. The way it works is the Mimics get to go into the map first, and they have 20 seconds or so where they get to hide.
“Of course, they can do everything a Mimic can do. They can disguise themselves as objects on the map, so they can set up little ambushes and stuff. Then after about 20 seconds, Morgan is released into the map. He’s the hunter. So it’s one player against the five Mimics.
“Morgan’s goal is to find all five Mimics and kill them before the timer runs out, and the Mimics, their goal is to outlast Morgan. They can either play defensively by running around and hiding, or they can try and take Morgan down. If the Mimics can sneak up behind Morgan and not get smashed with a wrench, and jump on Morgan, they can temporarily knock Morgan out of the game for 10 seconds or so.
“It eats the clock away, and then they can scurry away and hide again. They’re meant to be very quick matches that you can play over and over because you’re dealing with five people who are playing as Mimics jumping out.”
The trick for the Morgan player is getting up close with the wrench means risking getting jumped by any number of Mimics. Standing too close to a Mimic builds up its jump meter, and that leaves Morgan vulnerable to being pounced. There are a couple of items around the map that can help boost Morgan’s chances of success, though.
“There’s a pistol you can find but, of course, the ammo is limited,” says Bare. “There are some Psychoscope power-ups you can find, which is sort of like a Pac-Man moment. When you find the Psychoscope, you suddenly know where all of the Mimics are. They’re all revealed, so it turns the table.”
Mimics will be notified if and when the Psychoscope is found and their positions are revealed. But despite Morgan’s capacity to find a ballistic option – admittedly, one that’s in a randomised spot (just like the Psychoscope) – there’s the terrifying reality that Mimics can morph into similarly sized objects. Y’know, like the pistol, if they should happen upon it first.
While Typhon Hunter encourages Mimics to play passively, for the most part, there may be opportunities to set some enticing traps. “I don’t know if we’ll have time to get to it all, but we want to do things like the Mimics will have little taunt animations,” says Bare. “Ideally, one player can act as a decoy so that everyone else can sneak up on Morgan and get a jump attack on him. I’m sure players will figure out other strategies we haven’t thought of.”
For Morgan players, though, their most precious resource is managing the ticking clock. To win, Morgan needs to smash every last Mimic. The Mimics just need to outlast the clock. Even one surviving Mimic results in a loss for Morgan. “The resource you have there is time,” says Bare. “Getting it wrong means you’ve wasted time and getting attacked and knocked out means you get put into a penalty box, so you lose even more time.
“Your goal as Morgan is balancing risk vs reward. I need to aggressively keep moving and searching for things, but at the same time if I stand still for too long or I search one spot for too long, I put myself at risk to getting jump attacked by Mimics.”
Bare ended the Typhon Hunter discussion with the confession that he’s really looking forward to seeing the videos and streams of the jump-scare moments in Typhon Hunter’s multiplayer mode. For those players looking for a more chilled experience, Typhon Hunter also has a handful of VR escape rooms. But for everyone else, the promise of player-driven shriek-out-loud moments looms large for quick bursts of heart-pounding fun.