Impressions: Prey’s Typhon Hunter is a fun yet woefully underbaked competitive experience

Earlier this year, Arkane Studios released the critically acclaimed Mooncrash expansion for its 2017 sci-fi/horror game Prey. Mooncrash’s strong initial showing was further bolstered by a promised asymmetrical competitive experience which would be free for all Mooncrash owners when it arrived. Now, after months of radio silence on Arkane’s end, the competitive experience is finally here.

Dubbed Typhon Hunter, the new competitive mode feels very much at home in the Prey universe, functioning as a tense game of cat and mouse where the mice can fight back. However, given how much time it took Arkane to make Typhon Hunter, it’s also woefully barebones and likely won’t retain any sort of meaningful longevity.

Now you see me….

Each Typhon Hunter match consists of six total players. One player takes on the role of established Prey protagonist Morgan Yu while the other five get to play as Typhon mimics. The player controlling Morgan has to find and kill all five of the fragile mimic players using their trusty wrench melee weapon. The mimics, meanwhile, simply need to hide and run out the five minute match timer. If the timer reaches zero and even one mimic is still alive, the entire mimic team wins.

True to their name, the mimic players can disguise themselves as inconspicuous objects like coffee mugs and office chairs. When a disguised mimic is near the Morgan player, an attack gauge slowly fills up, and when it’s filled the mimic can pounce on the Morgan player and kill them. This forces the Morgan player to wait out a respawn timer, giving the mimics a few seconds to find new hiding spots.

To Arkane’s credit, Typhon Hunter feels balanced to the point where neither side has a distinct advantage. While hiding, a mimic’s Psi energy slowly depletes and when it runs out they’re exposed. Mimics can find floating energy orbs to replenish their energy, but there are a limited number of orbs in a match to find. The Morgan player, meanwhile, can pick up helpful tools such as a pistol with limited ammo and even a Psycoscope that briefly exposes all of the mimic players.

Hunter becomes the prey

As with any competitive multiplayer experience, being able to outthink your opponent is the key to victory in Typhon Hunter. When playing as Morgan, it’s not wise to simply run around and whack every object you see. Doing so drains your limited sprint stamina and leaves you vulnerable to mimic ambushes.

Instead, you want to move through the level cautiously but quickly, keeping an eye out for misplaced (or moving) objects. It’s also smart to wait until the mimic players’ Psi energy starts running out since they’ll have to scramble to find energy orbs and reposition themselves.

Playing as a mimic, meanwhile, is all about thinking outside the box and knowing when to move in for the takedown. You have to think about where the Morgan player’s blind spots are and make sure that’s where you are when they enter the room.

At the very least, you want to pick a hiding spot where the Morgan player won’t see you until it’s too late. If you’re exposed within the Morgan player’s sightline, you can dash around a corner or over large objects to gain distance and quickly re-trigger your disguise.

Flashpoint

It’s unfortunate that Typhon Hunter came so late in Prey’s lifespan and in such a barebones state. While there are some minor cosmetic customization options for Morgan and the mimics, there are also no progression mechanics or in-game unlocks aside from a smattering of new achievements.

Typhon Hunter is also missing key quality-of-life features such as customizable controls, text chat (on PC), a playable tutorial, and the ability to mute other players. You can at least peruse some leaderboards and play both quickplay and private matches, but without any sort of progression or unlocks the novelty fades quickly.

If you can round up a few friends Typhon Hunter is certainly a strong party game contender, but the mode’s spotty online performance (I was disconnected from an in-progress match several times) spoils even that appeal.

In short, Typhon Hunter’s strong promise is ruined by a disappointingly shallow presentation, which is especially odd given how long it took for Arkane to finally ship the mode out. I imagine the mode’s already meager playerbase will dry up quickly, especially without any sort of ongoing support from Arkane. Typhon Hunter could have been a strong competitive contender back when Prey and Mooncrash were still relevant. Now, however, it just feels like a rushed, barebones capper to an otherwise excellent game.