Prey on PC runs better than Dishonored 2, thank goodness

In accordance with Bethesda's nonsensical policy around reviews, press only received playable Prey code this morning. As such, our review is still a few days out. But given Dishonored 2's significant launch issues, it's worth digging into how the Prey PC version runs. For now, though, I can say this: yeah, what I've played has been (mostly) fine.

Settings

Prey's graphics settings are pretty lackluster compared to many recent PC releases, although that's more down to the scope of the game. You're in a space station, after all, so you don't need to worry about vegetation detail settings. The advanced menu lets you tweak object detail, and shadow and texture quality. You can also set anisotropic filtering up to 16x, and anti-aliasing up to SMAA 2TX. Finally, you get to set the resolution of screen space directional occlusion and screen space reflections—ie, tweak the lighting and reflection quality.

Elsewhere, the keyboard is fully rebindable, although the controller isn't. That said, there's some weirdness to the keybindings—specifically in relation to the lack of contextual options. Case in point: you can navigate menu tabs with Q and E (and subtabs with the weird choice of shift and tab). These are globally mapped, meaning if you want to rebind tab navigation, you also have to rebind the out-of-menu function of those keys. I had planned to use A and D to scroll tabs, but I could only do that by remapping those keys to left and right lean. Which would be a ridiculous way to play, obviously. (Don't @ me, ESDF users.)

Similarly, you can map the number pad keys, but only by giving up the option to use the number pad for typing out codes into keypad locks in game. It's not a big deal, really—I do most of my menu navigation with the mouse. But it is a slightly annoying restriction.

While I'm griping about the interface, here's another complaint. Above is a screenshot of the inventory. See the keyboard shortcuts in the bottom corner? Years of PC gaming would lead you to expect you could click on the Back button to go back. Nope. And elsewhere, a right-mouse click will exit a menu, but not here. You have to use the keyboard. Again: not a major gripe, but it's one of those irritating minor usability issues that I keep hitting up against. Prey's menus are just slightly annoying to use.

Performance

Here's what you need to know: Prey runs smoothly based on the two PCs I've tested. One, running a Nvidia 1070 on a Gsync monitor, is averaging just over 100fps on Very High preset at 1440p in a borderless window. As yet, it hasn't dropped below about 90fps. It's completely smooth, so much so that I have nothing else to say about it and am only continuing with this sentence in order to make the paragraph a decent length. Nice!

I'm confident this isn't a repeat of Dishonored 2.

AMD also seems mostly fine. I tested an R9 Fury X at 1440p, again in a borderless window. It didn't drop below 60fps with Vsync enabled. That machine was connected to a 60Hz monitor, though, so I can't say exactly what FreeSync users can expect. In one instance, I did experience what seemed like some sluggishness to the controls, although, Prey being a pretty dark game overall, it was hard to properly diagnose. The framerate didn't dip, and it wasn't persistent enough of an issue to sound any alarm bells. Also: while there hasn't yet been a Prey specific patch, AMD has been getting much better about releasing new profiles specifically for big new releases. So hopefully any possible issues are just a driver update from being quashed.

I'm confident this isn't a repeat of Dishonored 2. That isn't much of a surprise: despite both games being made by Arkane, Prey is using CryEngine, not VOID, and also has a much more contained focus. There's no huge outdoor environments, and so it's less of a challenge for your PC to run. It's set in a big, contained space station, full of chunky physics objects and annoying menus. Come back next week for our full, scored review.