Prey 2017 Part 12: Meet the Technopath

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Sep 29, 2021

Filed under: Retrospectives 84 comments

Like I said in the last entry, Alex locked Morgan in Deep Storage for her own good. But as I’ve made clear in the past couple of entries, Alex’s help is often a huge liability. The situation here in Deep Storage is classic Alex: He’s trying to keep us safe, but he’s accidentally locked us in a relatively limited space with the dreaded…

Technopath

Sadly, the technopath does not use techno music as a weapon.
Sadly, the technopath does not use techno music as a weapon.

This guy is a bastard. The technopath can control machines, manipulate computers, and disable weapons. He’s not the highest on the alien org chart, and I don’t think the designers intended him to be the biggest threat, but this guy killed me more than the rest of the creeps combined.

Note also how this is yet another point in the story where our silent protagonist works against the story being told. Alex supposedly locked us in here to “keep us safe”, but he’s locked us in a small-ish space with a high-level threat. Morgan ought to be able to call Alex and tell him that he’s being a butthead.I’m really curious what Alex would do if Morgan was able to explain the situation. Would he unlock the door and let you loose again, or would he just send you a bunch of supplies and tell you to take care of the problem yourself?

This game has turrets. You can find them, repair them, and reinforce them. They even carry their own (unlimited) ammunition. At the same time, they’re fragile and get broken or knocked over easily. They actually remind me a lot of the Combine turrets in Half-Life 2


You can leave turrets behind to guard stuff you care about, but then the game will auto-disable them while you're on another level. Boo.
You can leave turrets behind to guard stuff you care about, but then the game will auto-disable them while you're on another level. Boo.

In a game with such a strong focus on resource management, infinite-ammo turrets are a fantastic tool. A default turret is only mildly helpful, but if you’ve spent your skill points right you can make a turret pretty durable. That, along with clever placementFoes tend to aim at the center of the turret, while the bullets come out of the top. So if you can get your turret behind a chest-high wall it will be almost unstoppable. can kill tons of enemies for no additional cost and with very little personal risk. 

If anything, I kind of feel like turrets are a bit OP. My go-to strategy when facing a big foe is to round up a handful of turrets and let them do the work for me.

But not the technopath. The technopath will instantly possess the turret. The turret will levitate over to the technopath and orbit around him, making him even tougher to kill. That’s fine. It’s nice that some foes have a way to counter turrets. My problem is that the technopath is already a huge threat.

He summons balls of hovering lightning. These balls do massive damage and they disable your currently held weapon. The technopath can summon these things through walls. It doesn’t even need line-of-sight! He can create this shock attack every N seconds, and the shock will disable your weapon for N+1 seconds. So if you try to fight him in the open he can make it so you can never fire your weapon. 

Once he’s aware of you, just being in his general vicinity is extremely dangerous. Just to make things as dicey as possible, he might also have a turret or two guarding him. On top of all this, he has a ton of hitpoints. 

Oh yeah: He can also fly and he prefers to hover well above the ground, which means it’s hard to use grenades on him. 

The Nightmare is supposed to be the Big Bad of the game, but I’ll take a Nightmare encounter over a Technopath any day. The Nightmare is less dangerous, costs fewer resources to kill, and drops more loot.

A Rare But Potent Enemy

This energy ball appears next to you, disables your weapon, inflicts damage, and obscures your vision. The technopath can spawn one of these things right beside you, across large distances, without needing line-of-sight.
This energy ball appears next to you, disables your weapon, inflicts damage, and obscures your vision. The technopath can spawn one of these things right beside you, across large distances, without needing line-of-sight.

We don’t fight very many of these things during the course of the game, but when we do encounter a Technopath, it’s usually camping in front of something really important. 

The first available Technopath is in the Neuromod Division, which is where you appear at the start of the game. You really have to go out of your way to reach this one, but if you’re really determined and a bit suicidal then it is possible to face a Technopath right at the start, long before you’re equipped to deal with it. 

Neuromods – like all other technology in the game – can be fabricated at these 3D printers you find. Like I mentioned earlier in this series, this allows you to break down scrap items and turn them into neuromods. In a practical sense, you’re printing “skill points”. If you’re really thorough and you don’t mind a lot of extra running around, then you can eventually gather up a lot of extra resources, which will allow you to make a ton of extra neuromods.  However, that’s a bit game-break-y, so the designer didn’t want that to be too easy for you.

Here is what the designer intended: Perhaps an hour or so into the game, you’ll find the blueprint for neuromods so you can make them yourself as opposed to just scrounging for them in the world. Then maybe you’ll spend another hour printing out neuromods here and there as you progress through the game. After you print out N neuromods, you discover that your “license” has run out. Once you run into the license block, you’ll have to backtrack to the Neuromod Division so you can access the licensing computer and grant yourself unlimited licenses. And it turns out there’s a Technopath guarding this office. This makes sense. By this point in the game you’ve probably got the resources to deal with a Technopath, and it makes sense to have the player deal with a top-tier threat in order to gain access to printing unlimited neuromods. 

That’s the intended path, anyway. But if you’re a little crazy, then you can pick a fight with this guy almost as soon as you exit the tutorial. You need to climb up to a balcony, hack a door, and end up playing tag in the dark with a poltergeist, but if you’re just the right blend of tenacious and crazy, then you can eventually reach the Technopath and have him one-shot you over and over again as you save-scum your way through the encounter.

Have fun!

It sounds like I’m complaining, but I love that the game is open like this and allows you to go places you shouldn’t. You can stray off the “intended path” if you want. The path is there for people who want a nice curated set of encounters that provide the “intended experience”, and then a bunch of side paths that offer increased dangers and rewards for people willing to put the work in and be creative.

To talk about the next Technopath, we need to talk about…

The Marvel of Talos-1

It seems like this lift would be an obnoxious choke point for the 250 crew members trying to get to work in the morning. I think the station would be better served by three smaller parallel elevators rather than this single luxury car. Also, I guess it would be cheating if we tried to count these benches towards our tally of missing beds.
It seems like this lift would be an obnoxious choke point for the 250 crew members trying to get to work in the morning. I think the station would be better served by three smaller parallel elevators rather than this single luxury car. Also, I guess it would be cheating if we tried to count these benches towards our tally of missing beds.

When the game starts, the main elevator is disabled due to some unexplained “problem” at the top floor where the car is. Later you’ll reach the top by other means and discover that the problem is (surprise!) a technopath.

Now, technically you don’t need the main elevator. It’s entirely possible to move around the station using the service tunnelsCalled the G.U.T.S.-Gravity Utility Tunnel System. or by going on a spacewalkYou need to unlock airlocks from the inside, so you need to reach a location conventionally before you can reach it via spacewalk. if you don’t mind taking the long way around. But you can save yourself a lot of hiking and a lot of loading screens if you’re willing to fix the main elevator.

One of the really cool things about Prey is that the world features complete spatial continuity. If you could remove all the loading screens and shove the gameworld into one massive contiguous level, they would all fit together. There aren’t any cheats or gaps where loading screens are used to connect corridors that would otherwise be far apart or at different angles. This doesn’t sound like a big deal because we’re used to gameworlds like Half-Life 2 where there’s a single path through the space and the level designer just needs to make sure that the end of level 10 matches the start of level 11. But this becomes a bigger problem when you’ve got levels that connect back to each other in different ways. The outer hull of Talos-1 needs to be large enough to contain the volume of the maps inside of it, those maps need to fit together, and those maps need to provide airlock doors that match up with the positioning of the external airlocks. 

Unfortunately, modern engines usually require that the designer cut the world up into chunks, with loading screens between them. And sometimes those loading screens end up in nasty places.

Elevator

Since we only have 3 floors, we could have three small dedicated elevators, each assigned to constantly cycle between two floors. Lobby/Aboretum, Lobby/Support, and Aboretum/Support. Everyone would get a direct trip to their destination.
Since we only have 3 floors, we could have three small dedicated elevators, each assigned to constantly cycle between two floors. Lobby/Aboretum, Lobby/Support, and Aboretum/Support. Everyone would get a direct trip to their destination.

The low-effort way to design the main elevator would be to have the elevator itself be a loading screen. You’d walk up to the controls, push a button, and when the loading was over you’d be standing in the new location, having just “exited” the elevator you supposedly rode. But the Prey designer wanted the player to actually ride a real moving elevator. They made the walls of glass so that you could feel the sense of distance and scale as the elevator carried you up and down Talos-1. That’s a really admirable design goal and I’m glad they went to the trouble. It just wouldn’t be the same if this trip was hidden behind a loading screen.

But this design also means that the entire elevator shaft needs to be part of the same map, and that comes with its own set of problems. As you approach the elevator at the top, you must pass through a loading screen. On the other side, there’s a single waiting room. And a Technopath. You must kill this Technopath if you want to reclaim the elevator.

This is probably the worst Technopath in the game, since you’re basically locked in a single room with him. You can’t retreat and fight him through a doorway, because the door is a loading screen. There isn’t really anywhere to provide cover. You just have to YOLO into the fight, tank the hits, and bring him down as quickly as you can. Not a big deal if you’ve specced for combat. But if you’ve specced for engineering and hacking, then I hope you’ve got some grenades and medkits in your pockets. You’re going to need them.

Anyway, let’s get back to Deep Storage and the Technopath that lives there…

Dead End

It's slightly tricky to obtain in the early game, but once you have it the Q-Beam rife is a real problem solver.
It's slightly tricky to obtain in the early game, but once you have it the Q-Beam rife is a real problem solver.

Like I said, I think the Technopath is the most dangerous foe in the game. It’s certainly the most formidable for the engineer / scientist build I prefer. 

Way back in 2017, this encounter actually ended my first play-through of Prey.Prey-through? I fired every bullet I owned at him, and he still wasn’t dead. 

Normally I’d backtrack in a situation like this. Go back, find a fabricator, and turn some of my unused resources into more bullets. But since Alex had locked the door behind me, that wasn’t an option. I didn’t know it at the time, but there was a second floor to Deep Storage. I’m not sure how feasible it would be to reach the second floor with a Technopath chasing me, but if I’d made it I would have found a fabricator. MAYBE I could have printed enough bullets to get through this?

I didn’t have any useful grenades left. I’d been a little too free with them up until this point, spending them on low-tier foes that I could have defeated with less expensive means. (Not that grenades are terribly useful against this hovering foe. It’s tough to land a hit where he’s anywhere near the center of the blast zone. But with some luck and a little save-scumming you can probably soften him up with grenades.)

I couldn’t finish it off with my wrench, since Technopaths can kite you. Every wrench-blow will cost you a zap from their lightning ball attack, and that trade will kill you very quickly.

I couldn’t use turret spam, since Technopaths just capture turrets.

My last manual save was from many hours earlier and the last auto-save was just after getting locked in, so I couldn’t jump back to just before entering Deep Storage and try a different approach.

That was it. Game over.

Choices and Consequences

Energy ball spam is OP nerf pls.
Energy ball spam is OP nerf pls.

Now, you can argue that this is a designer’s foul: The player shouldn’t be able to get themselves into a no-win scenario like this.

On the other hand, I made an underpowered build where all of my skills focused on looting and not on combat. I’d used too many bullets on mimics instead of being more conservative and fighting them with the wrench. I’d wasted too many grenades on low-stakes fights. I had lots of fabricator resourcesMoney, if you will. but I hadn’t spent those resources on bullets, so those resources were just sitting in my inventory instead of contributing to my overall combat effectiveness.

The point is: I made a lot of mistakes, and this no-win fight was simply the consequence of those earlier choices. If you made it so that an underpowered, unprepared, underequipped player can beat this fight, then you’re making it so the foes in the game are toothless. If my lousy build could win, then it would be a pushover for a properly equipped player.

I think my problem with this fight isn’t that it was too hard, it’s that I didn’t get the impression that this particular difficulty spike was deliberate. It certainly wasn’t telegraphed. It’s not like this Technopath was built up in the story as some sort of terrifying nemesis. Deep Storage wasn’t designed to be one of the scary “We Don’t go to Ravenholm” style areas, like Psychotronics. This wasn’t some big “moment of truth” for Morgan as far as her character goes. It feels like the game designer just locked you in a box with a Technopath and expected it to be just another fight.

The game could have telegraphed or foreshadowed that Morgan was heading into a big confrontation, thus giving the player an incentive to stock up. The designer could have contrived some reason for January to warn you that getting in might be easier than getting out, thus encouraging the player to make a backup save before going in. The game could have given the player a bit more room to work with, so they didn’t begin the level already backed into a corner. The game could have provided a Recycler / Fabricator station at the entry to Deep Storage, so the player could try different strategies on the Technopath instead of just using whatever they happened to have in their pockets when Alex locked them in.

But instead the game locks you into a small space with the toughest foe in the game. It does this without giving you a way to resupply, and without warning you ahead of time. And in the end, the designer doesn’t seem to notice that they’ve created a serious obstacle. This will very likely be the toughest fight the player has to face, and nothing in the story acknowledges it. This isn’t a hidden side-quest for an overpowered gun or the door to the secret mega-happy ending. As far as the game designer is concerned, this is supposed to be just another monster fight.

Yes, my build was underpowered. But this still could have been handled better.

Power Creep

One of the things I love about these Space Station Games is how you grow in power. You start the game feeling weak and vulnerable. The game is very close to survival horror in terms of tone and pacing. Every bullet you fire counts, and every band-aid you find is treasure. The game is tense, scrappy, and unforgiving.

In most games, the enemies grow in power faster than the player so that the end of the game is more challenging than the start. But this curve is reversed in a SSG. You gather bigger weapons and more super powers as you go, while your foes stay more or less the same. This means the game starts out as survival horror, and gradually becomes action adventure.

I realize this design runs counter to the entire idea of a game as an escalating test of skill, but for whatever reason this progression really appeals to me. If the game started with the player as an overpowered munchkin then it would feel too self-indulgent. And an entire game of unrelenting resource starvation and death screens can be exhausting and tedious. But I like the sensation of slowly transitioning from underpowered to overpowered. When I get to the late game and I’m mowing down hapless mooks with impunity, it doesn’t feel too self-indulgent. I kinda feel like I earned this power by surviving those painful early hours of the game and being frugal with my resources. 

Escape

Morgan escapes by climbing into this data vault and ejecting it from the station.
Morgan escapes by climbing into this data vault and ejecting it from the station.

Morgan escapes Deep Storage by launching herself into space and then flying over to the cargo bay to get back in. But that’s not the end of her problems. We’ll find out later that Alex didn’t just lock us in Deep Storage, he locked down the entire station. This is something the other survivors probably don’t appreciate.

 

Footnotes:

[1] I’m really curious what Alex would do if Morgan was able to explain the situation. Would he unlock the door and let you loose again, or would he just send you a bunch of supplies and tell you to take care of the problem yourself?

[2] Foes tend to aim at the center of the turret, while the bullets come out of the top. So if you can get your turret behind a chest-high wall it will be almost unstoppable.

[3] Called the G.U.T.S.-Gravity Utility Tunnel System.

[4] You need to unlock airlocks from the inside, so you need to reach a location conventionally before you can reach it via spacewalk.

[5] Prey-through?

[6] I didn’t know it at the time, but there was a second floor to Deep Storage. I’m not sure how feasible it would be to reach the second floor with a Technopath chasing me, but if I’d made it I would have found a fabricator. MAYBE I could have printed enough bullets to get through this?

[7] Money, if you will.



From The Archives:
 

84 thoughts on “Prey 2017 Part 12: Meet the Technopath

  1. Ronan says:

    > There aren’t any cheats or gaps where loading screens are used to connect corridors that would otherwise be far apart or at different angles

    They did cheat on geography (they admit to it in the recent noclip documentary, I suppose this article was written before it came out), but far less than we’re used to.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      I think if it’s good enough not to notice, they’re doing a good job. :)

    2. Zekiel says:

      The Noclip documentary is fantastic. And also sad, since it highlights how this fantastic game didn’t sell one so we’re unlikely to get another one :-(

      Of relevance here, there’s a bit where a designer talked about what a headache the lift was, especially the stupid ambush in it.

      1. Mersadeon says:

        Man, when that ambush happened, I *knew* some designers had to have banged their heads about that. You can almost physically feel it.

  2. Lino says:

    I was not aware of that Techno Union montage. Now I am, and my life will never be the same again…

  3. Zoltan says:

    The AOE attack of the Technopath also seems like an invitation to try out defensive Typhon-mods. The “Backlash” Typhon-ability seems super-useful in these fights, since the AOE of the Technopath indeed is lethal enough that it is almost impossible to negate by any other means.

    “Backlash” lets you fully absorb attack(s) against you via enveloping you into a shield. The Technopath’s AOE electrostatic balls of doom seem like a deliberate temptation to make the player have a taste of this defensive Typhon-based mod. My main point: such a nice example of elegant synergy between game-mechanics.

    1. Trevor says:

      That is cool to know. With the defensive Typhon powers I never felt like I truly understood what they would do enough to get me to invest in them, or how well they would work. Does the shield completely absorb the attack, or does it simply lower the damage from 75 to 50? The game doesn’t really answer this for you and so the thought never occurred to me that “oh, I’m getting my butt kicked, I should put points into shielding.”

      1. Zoltan says:

        “Backlash is an ability that lets you create a temporary shield, which blocks enemies from damaging you. The shield will also repel enemies, which attack it. Morgan can learn this ability by researching Nightmare and Weaver. ”

        source:
        https://prey.fandom.com/wiki/Backlash

        The “blocks enemies from damaging you” bit sounds too good to be true, it might be the reason you skimmed over it. : ) The idea seems to be to give the player the ability to negate any and all incoming “attack-precedent” with the shield, but, a relatively sloppy player could easily waste this defense-opportunity against a regular mimic-leap, as well. So it is yet another aspect to the tasty synergy/balance. The promise itself though indeed is delivered, the Backlash shield absorbs 100% of the incoming damage, regardless of the juice/heft in the damage, and, you can stack up a maximum of three layers. Strategically planning your moves ahead, knowing you can take 2-3 hits for free while propagating fierce destruction, can make you a Typhon nightmare, pardon the nightmarish (double)pun.

        1. Trevor says:

          You are correct. It definitely sounded too good to be true and I had tried Phantom Shift and been unimpressed by the ability of the illusory double to fool the Typhon, so I just bypassed Backlash in favor of more damaging powers.

          1. Zoltan says:

            Coming to think of it, Backlash is the same type of shield Weavers use, so the game even demos its operation. Yes, that Phantom Shift thing sounded like a perfect way to confuse the Typhon AND the player.

  4. Lithros says:

    The disruptor stun gun disables the technopath’s blast and does huge damage (as well as instantly knocking out any turrets you hit with it). It’s a pretty hard counter that makes fighting them 1-on-1 pretty trivial even with minimal upgrades.

    1. Raion says:

      I don’t recall them being made trivial, but a combo of disruptor and gloo made them much less nightmareish than what Shamus is describing. But I suppose it’s possible for a player to face them without ever finding the disruptor?

      1. Chad Miller says:

        Only if you somehow both skip the December sidequest and also fail to loot the first room you enter in the Arboretum (on the corpse in the room with the Fabricator and Recycler, if I recall correctly)

        That said the electric attack disables the stun gun, which was the problem I was having with this part of the game. Really, I think that is the thing that puts it over the top; in addition to having the toughest minions, it has counters to its counters. You cant use the disruptor on operators and the technopath at the same time, and if he disables your gun while you try to take out the operators, that may just be game over.

        The real hard counter is the electric Typhon power, something that becomes clearer with Joan in Mooncrash.

        1. Henson says:

          I found the Disruptor pretty quickly, but only because I insisted on climbing on top of everything. As soon as I realized mounting was a standard action, I didn’t stop until I hit the rafters.

          I must have spent a good hour and a half in the simulation lab…

          1. Chad+Miller says:

            Ha, that would be December’s stash. It’s one of those cool little things that almost no one will find it without the quest marker, but if you do it’s the second earliest weapon pickup in the game (after the wrench)

        2. Fizban says:

          My only problem with the stun gun was that it’s lightning, so it shouldn’t work on an enemy that uses lightning, right? (does it work on the electric phantoms?). But eventually I read the lore entry trying to find some way to deal with it, after noticing the lore entries all tag what effects work and don’t work on a given foe. It said the stun gun works, and I tried it, and it did. Once you’ve got that, it’s just setting up the first EMP throw and not whiffing the execution- basic level 1 upgrades give just enough oomph.

          But before I figured that out (and using Nullwaves on Weavers), oh man were they annoying. This is one of the only games where disabling effects are not only useful, or downright good, but I’m pretty sure 100% expected as a primary response. The fact that you can just barely manage without them and it never tutorializes you is a deceptive (and effective) bit of game design, allowing you to naturally have those mega-hard fights right up until you actually try the disable yourself and find out just how effective it is.

          Most games won’t let you discover like that anymore. And with good reason, since a more linear/less self-directed explory etc game must live or die more based on its combat, so letting a player founder with sub-optimal strategies is dangerous. Prey can keep you engaged on story and exploration and let you get by on stealth and infefficient resource use for basically the entire game, so it can afford to have the not-so-secret secret tech.

          1. Chad+Miller says:

            There is a tutorial popup specifically mentioning that disabled monsters take more damage and that this can be used as the basis for combos to kill monsters quickly. That said, it’s a one-time popup that can easily be clicked through and forgotten about, so it’s not surprising that you could miss it or not recognize its significance in the moment.

            1. Fizban says:

              That popup happens back when you get the gloo gun though, which tends to be nigh-useless on anything tougher than a basic phantom to my experience. The EMP and Nullwave get tutorial popups too, just like every weapon, but in all cases the game never deliberately requires you to use X weapon on Y in order to make a tutorial prompt go away*. So it’s easy to maintain expetations based on other games, and the gloo gun itself (and the difficulty in using the damaging recycler grenade), and not really think about how much of an enemy’s innate properties could count as psi abilities, or how the metal-organic thing might be just as vulnerable to EMP and zapping as metal. Lots of games pattern you into assuming that if something isn’t purely X, stuff that talks about X won’t affect it, because haha your foes get the best of both worlds. The specialty grenades and vulnerabilities in this game are much more broad.

              *If it actually did and I just mega-glazed over it, welp I look like an idiot then.

              1. Chad+Miller says:

                *If it actually did and I just mega-glazed over it, welp I look like an idiot then.

                Oh, no, you’re absolutely right about this and that’s why I said it’s easy to miss. It mentions that disabling = bonus damage but then doesn’t really give even the barest hint of what other disabling options may exist, and also never reinforces that particular lesson again, so to really get the full impact of that hint you need to remember it hours later when you have electric weapons and nullwave transmitters and the like. The presence of weakness listed in the Psychoscope scans helps a bit but doesn’t quite make it clear that, say, an EMP-paralyzed technopath will take extra damage from the shotgun.

          2. Dreadjaws says:

            My only problem with the stun gun was that it’s lightning, so it shouldn’t work on an enemy that uses lightning, right?

            Well, the Technopath controls electrical objects but it’s not electrical by itself. The Voltaic Phantom is accurately immune to the Disruptor.

    2. Ophelia says:

      EMP grenades also 100% shut down Technopaths. You don’t even have to get a good meaty hit with the center of the AOE like a normal grenade. If the slightest atom grazes the grenade’s radius, then the technopath is crippled, drops all possessed turrets, can’t electro-ball you. Once its in this state, Disruptor Gun spam will deal massive damage and KEEP it in this disabled state if I remember correctly. It’s been some months since my last Nightmare run.

  5. bobbert says:

    […] an entire game of unrelenting resource starvation and death screens can be exhausting and tedious. But I like the sensation of slowly transitioning from underpowered to overpowered. When I get to the late game and I’m mowing down hapless mooks with impunity, it doesn’t feel too self-indulgent. I kinda feel like I earned this power by surviving those painful early hours of the game and being frugal with my resources.

    Huh?…
    I should play nethack again.

    1. Chad Miller says:

      It actually gives me a similar feeling to Resident Evil. The old ones, that is (as in before RE4)

  6. Dreadjaws says:

    While I didn’t fight the Neuromods Technopath right after the tutorial I definitely fought it much earlier than I was supposed to. That was probably the hardest fight in the entire game for me. As hard as it was, I persevered because I knew there had to be some big reward behind it, and lo and behold, the Neuromod blueprint and infinite license were there. I didn’t understand the point of having the infinite license right there, and it was only much later in the game I realized I wasn’t supposed to have that with me so soon.

    This fight was hard for me due to my constant need to save ammo. While this meant I had quite a few saved up, it also meant I didn’t want to use it in the fight for fear of needing to use it later and not have it. I figured early on that the disruptor gun had some stun effect on it, but failed to capitalize because I didn’t want to waste my shotgun shells. When I finally said “Ah, screw it” and started blasting my shotgun at the thing I ended it up pretty quickly. The shotgun is massively overpowered in this game (and you find it so early). By the point I reached the Deep Storage Technopath I was already well versed in how to defeat these guys, so I didn’t find that one to be a problem.

    And while I do like that you get so much more powerful at the game, I feel it completely erases all tension. When you get abilities like Psychoshock and Mindjack you’re pretty much unstoppable, and this happens way too early. I feel like games like Deus Ex and even Biosock manage to provide a better balance, where you become powerful enough that you’re confident you can win most fights with little effort, but you never feel outright invincible, so you’re often forced to retreat, hide or even avoid combat situtations. In Alien: Isolation you get a few weapons that make you feel a bit more confident, but there’s still a constant foreboding sensation of dread at knowing you could be ambushed at any point and if you weren’t quick in your reflexes you would be done for. In Prey there are a few abilities I didn’t take (like the shield) because it had reached a point where I was so strong I just didn’t see any need for them.

    I found the Telepath to be a bigger threat than the Technopath because in my constant need to save as many lives as I could I had to make sure I killed it without any of the nearby possessed people exploding their heads at me. Yet this too became trivial with Mindjack.

    I loved the idea that getting enough powers would mean that at some point the station’s defense system would turn against you. It meant that more power came with consequences, as what used to be strategically placed allies would now turn against you. Once I realized this I imagined with horror that all the turrets I had put against entrances would be there to receive me back as an enemy when I came back to the area. And then the game goes and disable them. Ugh. The game needed so much more of this where what used to be innocuous and even friendly ends up turning into a foe, and the one system it has for it is then completely ruined by this silly decision.

    It’s kind of really hard to buy into the game’s entire plot of “the entire station must be destroyed or else these aliens will be unstoppable” when it’s so easy for just one person to dispatch them and even turn them against each other.

    1. Chad Miller says:

      I think its clear that while there are three or four technopaths you could reasonably encounter first (the ones Shamus already mentioned, plus there is one in the GUTS if you see the short list of security station listings and decide to be thorough), they clearly expected you to clear the elevator first. There is location specific dialogue and January always drops the “wow what the hell is that thing” for the elevator one.

      This also means that they expected the reaction to Deep Storage to be “oh, another one of these” although I also almost got stuck there; I’d actually given up on clearing the elevator thinking I was expected to come back later, and therefore got a nasty surprise when going to Deep Storage resulted in getting locked in with a different Technopath.

    2. BlueHorus says:

      …while I do like that you get so much more powerful at the game, I feel it completely erases all tension. When you get abilities like Psychoshock and Mindjack you’re pretty much unstoppable, and this happens way too early.

      This is so very true. And that’s part of what killed the fun of the game for me – in order to ‘threaten’ me, the game just had to spawn more and more Typhon, which of course caused me to invest more in Neuromods, which made more Typhon appear, etc.
      I was just wading through the enemy by the end, and not in a fun or scary way.
      Really made me miss the days where it was just me, my gun turret and a wrench, creeping through the lobby in the hopes I could spot the enemy and set up an ambush before they saw me – only to stumble on a Mimic unprepared with my hands full.

      1. Raygereio says:

        Yeah, agreed. Psychoshock in particular is just silly. It made me stop a playthrough, delete the save and start over because the game had become boring.

        There are a bunch of neuromods you just have to avoid if you want the game to have any semblance of challenge.

        1. Dreadjaws says:

          This is a problem from a design standpoint. I mean, sure, you can avoid powers to make things more interesting, but then you feel like the game is punishing you for engaging with its systems. Psychoshock should have been the sort of power that costs a ridiculous amount of Psi and has a several minutes long cooldown so you couldn’t realistically be able to use it more than once in a fight. Mindjack should have had a success rate upgradeable up to something like 60%. The fact that it works every single time makes every fight with multiple enemies a cakewalk.

          Or at the very least the game shouldn’t have been so generous with its neuromods. Maybe it should have introduced a system where some incompatibility issues would mean you couldn’t have certain powers active at the same time. Sure, you can get Psychoshock and Mindjack, but say goodbye to being able to upgrade your weapons beyond level 1. Or maybe something like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, where you have a bunch of powers at your disposal but you can’t have them all active at the same time, and you can’t just exchange them on the fly in the middle of a fight because they enter a long cooldown.

  7. Gargamel Le Noir says:

    It’s been years since I’ve played Prey but I seem to remember that I used a disabling weapon on these assholes and then the shotgun, maybe some sort of grenade?

    About the feeling of empowerment at the end I loved it as well! It seems that a lot of people don’t like the moment where (spoiler) some douchebag military guy tries to take over Talos, but it was the perfect way for me to measure the power I had accumulated against a conventional enemy. And it was amazing. I was just running super fast, jumping super high, running circles around everything he threw at me. It felt extremely rewarding!

    1. Chad Miller says:

      Yes, if you can land the EMP then that is one of the best ways to open a Technopath fight (both because of the Technopath itself and because it can deactivate any turrets or operators in the vicinity). In the case of the Deep Storage one, one trick is to sneak and shoot it with the pistol from the entryway. Usually that will piss it off without actually detecting you so that it flies under the low ceiling in that area, which allows you to either use a vent to sneak past it or open with an EMP or perhaps disruptor and rush it down.

    2. cannongerbil says:

      Yeah, the disrupter stuns its for a good few seconds, after which you can just wail on it with a shotgun and it’d die before the stun wears off if you land your shots right. I personally never had a problem with Technopaths, then again by the time I encountered my first I already had combat focus and a shotgun so I can see how it might be a problem if you only had a pistol

    3. Mye says:

      Yeah they’re really not that big of an issue, disrupter and emp grenade literally make them incapable of doing anything and shotgun and pistol quickly finish them off. I always killed the one in neuromod division before I even went to hardware lab (I didn’t even know the license for the fabrication plan was a thing) with minimal equipment and only exploration skill, its not that hard. Probably killed me the first time when it controlled some turret I threw at it but once you know it’s pretty easy to deal with, then you can just quickly finish him. If you’re ever hurt you can always just open the pause menu and heal as often as you want. Grenade stick to enemy if they hit them so it’s not really hard to grenade them even if they fly.

  8. Asdasd says:

    He summons balls of hovering lightning. These balls do massive damage and they disable your currently held weapon. The technopath can summon these things through walls. It doesn’t even need line-of-sight! He can create this shock attack every N seconds, and the shock will disable your weapon for N 1 seconds. So if you try to fight him in the open he can make it so you can never fire your weapon.

    Oh right, I remember this enemy. It was such a frustrating, bullshit fight that it fatally severed my investment in the game. I kept going after I beat him for as long as it took to encounter one more frustrating section, then quit.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      I had the Nightmare turn up just as I was trying to fight this guy. Bah. Couldn’t run because I’d be seen and killed by the Technopath; couldn’t hide because the Nightmare always magically knows where you areand will steadily walk towards you.

      My only option was to sit in a vent and wait while the Nightmare stomped around screeching and firing energy blasts into the floor between us. Not Fun.

  9. Alex says:

    IIRC, turrets aren’t always disabled when you leave an area – I’m sure I had a trio of them set up in Morgan’s office watching the door that were always still intact when I came back. At any rate, I generally didn’t use them against anything bigger than a mimic, except for one specific part – I hoarded my turrets along with all my other consumables.

    1. Dreadjaws says:

      Turrets are instantly disabled when new enemies are spawned in the area as you’re absent. The idea, I suppose, is to pretend there’s been a fight and maybe alert you to some enemies being there if you see the disabled turrets before. The problem is: the turrets are always broken with less HP but the enemies have received no damage, so it’s obvious a fight never actually took place. I stopped setting towers in empty areas after I noticed this.

      But yeah, if enemies are not respawned nearby, turrets will stay enabled.

      1. Michael says:

        If I get into a fight with a rock, I will eventually recover, but the rock won’t. Is damage dealt to Typhons permanent?

        1. Dreadjaws says:

          Yes. Typhons have no healing abilities to speak of.

      2. Steve C says:

        That turret mechanic sounds like a rock that prevents polar bear attacks while being disabled in cold weather. IE guaranteed to never work the only times you need it to.

        1. Chad+Miller says:

          They’re more useful than it may sound:

          * In the very early game, a combination of weak weapons and limited ammo means even “handling nearby mimics and phantoms” is a pretty substantial boon. There are 2 or 3 in the lobby you can use to knock out a few sidequests, although that stops working on higher difficulties.

          * Sometimes they come in handy as sentries or tanks; it’s not just that they can attack a monster but that they can protect you from surprise attacks. This is especially useful in areas where there may be mimics or poltergeists as it makes it harder for them to get the drop on you, or if you hear monsters in a neighboring room but don’t see them and don’t yet want to go clear that area.

          * You can get around the “destroyed when monsters spawn” by doing a bunch of sidequests in one area at a time. I also think it’s kinda lame that the mechanics encourage you to do this in this matter, but the option is there and turrets become a lot stronger when you do it.

          * There are some sources of respawning enemies like the Weaver and operator dispensers after a mercenary hacks them for plot reasons. A strategically-placed turret can often mow down said enemies and keep the “factories” busy.

  10. BespectacledGentleman says:

    Huh. I remember that fight being tense but nothing like impossible. The psychic disruption power makes it pretty easy, as does the electric blast. I had more trouble with the Weaver in deep storage, there’s a lot of cover for it to hide behind and cystoids are hard to dodge in zero g.

    I guess that’s the issue with such diverse builds, it really is hard for the designer to control for everything at every point—what could be a choke point for one build is barely a speedbump for another.

    1. Zekiel says:

      Yeah I actually found Weavers the most annoying enemy to kill (even though technopaths can be really really tough). They don’t damage you much, but they are really hard to kill especially if zero g where grenades are hard to use, and they make you waste all your ammo by spawning cystoids.

      one of the random places you go to find Dahl’s operator near the end is outside the station, and when I did it there’s a Weaver there that took me ages to kill.

  11. JH-M says:

    If I remember correctly, the technopath and possibly some kind of electrical Typhon was the reason the whole the situation went wrong, as they disabled the security enough for a breach to happen. They simply had not existed as a possibility before as part of the process. I think it was also supposed to show an increase in intelligence from the Typhon as a whole, meaning as there was more Typhon, the shared intelligence was greater.

    I have found a documentary about the game and its development: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXLxaKrcFZ0

  12. Filip says:

    I’ve sneaked past the Neuromod Technopath without killing it very early in the game and got the licence. I had reached that area via a vent, IIRC.
    Until now, I haven’t realized that I was bypassing such an important “gate” and crafting neuromods at will was not a normal progression :D

  13. Daimbert says:

    Now, you can argue that this is a designer’s foul: The player shouldn’t be able to get themselves into a no-win scenario like this.

    The point is: I made a lot of mistakes, and this no-win fight was simply the consequence of those earlier choices. If you made it so that an underpowered, unprepared, underequipped player can beat this fight, then you’re making it so the foes in the game are toothless. If my lousy build could win, then it would be a pushover for a properly equipped player.

    It sounds to me, though, like what we can blame the designer for is to suddenly put the player into a situation where they need a specific build and won’t let them continue until they get past it, and they can’t go away and level up/get more ammo/whatever and then come back to get past it. Whether that’s a foul or not, it’s a stupid move because there may well be a number of players who get to that point and aren’t properly prepared, can’t go away and prepare for various reasons, and end up quitting the game in disgust and never returning to it. No game designer should want players quitting a game they were enjoying or might enjoy in frustration.

    So the sins here are:

    1) A build that was working perfectly fine for most of the game up to this point is suddenly at least horribly underpowered if not completely untenable.

    2) Someone who had to use more resources than other players suddenly without warning finds themselves far too short on resources to get past that challenge.

    3) The benefits of builds other than combat builds can’t be used here, meaning that the player had to focus on combat builds which limits players and forces them to take things they didn’t want to take.

    4) Nothing in the game, as per your comments, hints that you really do need to do this.

    5) Once here, the only way to go back and undo a lot of those “errors” is to restore an earlier save, which might be quite old.

    To avoid these sorts of problems, the designers should have made it clear that a dangerous combat was coming up so that a player could stock up on combat items. They also should have given a way for the player to fabricate these sorts of items if the fight was harder for them than expected. And they probably should have given at least some options here for non-standard builds to do things to make the fight easier. If they didn’t want to add combat options that couldn’t be used later, at least the ability to get more resources in this section would have been nice.

    So, yeah, I think this was a designer’s foul, and it’s just the sort of one that I hate: suddenly making combat skills and ability so important when it wasn’t before and there were more interesting options available, and on top of that dropping a character into a really tough combat when they might not be properly prepared for it (by replenishing their resources). That’s the sort of thing that can ruin games and so should be avoided.

    1. Trevor says:

      I agree with all of this. It is a badly designed area/situation. The goal is to get to a security station out in the open and it is exceptionally difficult to stealth to the place without aggroing the Technopath.

      I did not have Shamus’s problem with build but I was woefully low on Psi Hypos and so my decent build that relied on psi was badly hurt and I died a bunch. I eventually reloaded a save outside of Deep Storage and did a run to a Recycler/Fabricator for more supplies and was fine. Even a level design change as simple as throwing a Recycler/Fabricator combo in the area would have helped a ton.

    2. Dreadjaws says:

      A build that was working perfectly fine for most of the game up to this point is suddenly at least horribly underpowered if not completely untenable.

      Unrelated to this game, this sort of thing is what infuriates me to no end in Tower Defense games. Not all of them do this, but it’s a pretty normal thing that you devise a strategy that works for the majority of a stage until one of the very last waves is entirely unstoppable without any kind of warning whatsoever. It is very clear that these stages are thought with one strategy in mind, so every other one you use only happens to work until a certain point, and by then it’s too late to make changes.

      A proper way to do things would be to raise the challenge every so often so it at a certain part your strategy doesn’t seem to be working anymore you can tweak it before things become unsustenable. Having a massive difficulty spike out of nowhere because this particular part of the game happened to have been designed to only work with certain strategies when the game makes no effort to point this out is just terrible game design.

      1. Philadelphus says:

        My first introduction to Tower Defense games was Defense Grid, and it basically ruined me for all others due to its checkpoint system that allows you to effortlessly, at any time, jump back a few waves so you can replay a level over and over while tweaking your strategy until you manage to beat all the waves.

    3. Chad+Miller says:

      I would dispute some of those bullets; by Shamus’ own admission in the linked article, he was noticing problems before hitting this particular area. I actually went through a similar progression but I listened to the alarm bells and started putting points in guns sooner and this is probably the main reason this ended up being an issue for me, but didn’t end my playthrough.

      That said I do think that locking the player in this area with no save was probably a mistake, exacerbated by the fact that they likely didn’t mean for this encounter to be quite as hard as it was. As mentioned in another comment there is strong evidence that they expected the player to have taken out at least one Technopath already, in the elevator, even though it’s not mandatory. Both of the other Technopaths mentioned in this post are things the game pointed the player to with enticing sidequests; the elevator one is needed for, um, the elevator (and January calls you to tell you about it as soon as you enter the Arboretum, which was before even entering the Crew Quarters). Meanwhile, Alex has mandatory dialogue pointing you to the Neuromod fabricator plans, and if you hit the DRM limit he calls you to tell you about the quest to remove the limit (pointing you to the other).

      1. Dreadjaws says:

        I would dispute some of those bullets; by Shamus’ own admission in the linked article, he was noticing problems before hitting this particular area. I actually went through a similar progression but I listened to the alarm bells and started putting points in guns sooner and this is probably the main reason this ended up being an issue for me, but didn’t end my playthrough.

        I mean, sure, but when the entire point of this sort of game is that you can play them any way you want to and any build should suffice, this kinda goes against that sentiment. There should not be such a thing as “I made too many mistakes in my build”. If you’re playing a certain way it’s because you enjoy it. If you’re playing a certain way you’re deliberately avoiding the sort of stuff you’re not prepared for. If you’re reaching an enemy you can’t fight yet then it should be by choice.

        i.e. If I play as a gung-ho shoot-first-ask-questions-never kind of guy I shouldn’t be suddenly stopped by a door that needs a high level of hacking to bypass. If I play as a stealth “avoid any sort of fight” kind of guy I should not be suddenly stopped by an impassable fight. Say what you will about Deus Ex: Mankind Divided being unfinished or having a story that’s too on-the-nose, but there’s no wrong build in it. You can go the entire game killing everyone and never be stopped by a door or avoiding all fights and never find an enemy you can’t bypass.

        1. Chad+Miller says:

          Well, there’s an achievement for beating the game without any neuromods at all and it’s actually pretty commonly picked up (I’m pretty bad at shooters and I’ve done both the “no human neuromods” and “no typhon neuromods” challenge runs, and the only reason I haven’t tried the “no neuromods” one is that the human tree includes shit I consider basic QoL like increased inventory space)

          Shamus himself admits that with enough perseverance he probably could have powered through this room through clever use of stealth in his original post about this.

          I don’t necessarily consider “some invalid builds exist” to be a problem, but I especially don’t consider “invalid builds exist only if you’re also playing suboptimally” to be a problem. Someone who already has the attack patterns and monster weaknesses down is not likely to get stuck here, even if they did literally 0 combat leveling (I also think the designers expected the player to be used to the Technopath by now because they probably expected you would hit the Neuromod Division first and definitely expected you would clear the elevator first, which I think doesn’t excuse it but does explain why they didn’t think this would be a problem). Same for someone who thought to find the air vent near the entrance and lure the technopath out of the way. You could even throw a Typhon Lure and have the run of the area until it wears off.

          Now, at this point I feel compelled to circle back a bit and reiterate that I agree that this encounter is not ideal. The problem is that while there are a lot of tools to get past it, by locking the doors behind you and then autosaving afterward the game is cutting you off from a lot of those tools. If you still had the ability to retreat (even if it only became available after dying and reloading the save), then the answer honestly could be something like “just go craft some EMPs” or “go craft some neuromods and learn Electrostatic Bolt” or “how did you miss the Disruptor Stun Gun in the entrance to the Arboretum? Or do you just not have it with you?” But instead Shamus was stuck in the monster room with a pocket full of crafting materials he now couldn’t use, which I think is pretty lame even if theoretically winnable.

    4. Syal says:

      I’m okay with sudden nasty difficulty walls every once in a while, but am of the opinion there should always be a way past it with the player’s current build. Even (perhaps especially) if it’s a really annoying hack.

      Like, put some coolant tanks in the room, and you can hit them with your wrench and they do chip damage to the Technopath, and then take a minute to recharge. Then your upgradeless wrench-only player has a path to victory; kill it with coolant while dodging around the room for the thirty-plus minutes it will take to kill it with just coolant. Player gets a very clear “you’re doing it wrong” message, that they can overcome through sheer stubborn spite.

    5. Steve C says:

      Yes and no. I feel the true sin by the developer here was auto saving the game just *after* a locked door. It’s shit like that I feel I can never trust an autosave. Loading should have placed the player *before* the locked door then all the issues (learning how to overcome) become part of the gameplay. A puzzle to be solved using narrative clues, trial and error, brute force, coming back later etc. Whatever the player feels most comfortable doing.

      I’m not a fan of games that nag me. I will not fault a game for failing to shout at me loudly and repeatedly enough that I have to be brain dead to miss it. I want foreshadowing and no more than that. I also don’t like ‘all builds work equally well’ game play due to paraphrased Syndrome logic- “When everyone is special, no one is.” Which becomes- “When every answer is the right answer, choice doesn’t matter.”

      1. Dreadjaws says:

        I also don’t like ‘all builds work equally well’

        I disagree. This can work very well as long as the game allows for different approaches. Obviously, if you have a stealth build, a melee build and a ranged damage build and they can all pass the exact same obstacle in the same way that it’s obscenely ridiculous. But if every different build has to pass a different obstacle to progress, that’s good design. Some builds can ignore a boss. Others will lose on a major, hidden weapon. Others will be the only ones able to save a character.

        The thing is, while the main story must progress one way or another disregard of the build the player chose, it doesn’t mean that everything has to be the same.

  14. ContribuTor says:

    Sadly, the technopath does not use techno music as a weapon.

    Man, now I want the Dubstep Gun in this game.

  15. Glide says:

    I definitely agree that the technopath was the most potent offensive enemy in the game. Like several other commenters here, I quickly learned that the disruptor stun gun and EMP grenades were extremely potent counters, so I never had a ton of trouble dropping one dead, but I was definitely killed more rapidly by the technopath than any other enemy while I was figuring that out (and a few times still after figuring that out, when I was caught by a blast before I could get my offense aimed).

  16. Mattias42 says:

    I don’t mind reverse power curve games. In my mind, they’re a neat way to actually grant a sense of accomplishment to the player.

    Opposite, true to. Like, it makes sense for a lot of stories to have the challenge ramp up, as the Evil Empire or whatever sends out more deadly threats, as you are confirmed a greater threat, and so on.

    What grinds me gears is when the story says A, but all the game-play says B. Worst type of ludo-narrative dissonance there is, in my opinion, when you’re screamed into your ear with a megaphone YOU ARE SPECIAL!!!…

    But~ all the actual gameplay? Keeps telling you you’re a dirty peasant with a spoon, fighting dragons. Gha, so annoying. Like, have your cake game designer, OR eat it, pretty please? No both equally terribly!

  17. Dev Null says:

    The point is: I made a lot of mistakes, and this no-win fight was simply the consequence of those earlier choices.

    The fact that you found yourself unable to win the fight as a consequence of your decisions is actually kind of cool. The fact that the last autosave is in such a position that you can’t go back and attempt to rectify those decisions is not.

    1. Chad+Miller says:

      I do agree that this is probably the most questionable part of this situation: no save before locking the player in, nor any warning that they should save before entering the Deep Storage zone. I mean, some people found some other monsters harder, but if, say, you thought the Weaver in the GUTS was too hard you could always turn back around and go scrounge around in Psychotronics or maybe double back to get the Q-beam or something. Here if you’re stuck you’re just stuck (unless you figure out how to stealth past the Technopath to the fabricator upstairs, which is also surrounded by monsters albeit weaker ones)

      Interestingly it’s clear the designers tried to avoid trapping the player or letting them lose too much progress to things like this. A lot of the encounters come after natural autosave points like a zone transition. In fact, this is the primary time the Nightmare appears, meaning even if you die to one you probably didn’t get kicked back that far. There are even places where the designers clearly placed an autosave point manually (the Trauma Center in the lobby comes to mind; it’s one of the first sidequests you can find in the game, and a surprisingly hard fight given that it’s possible that you don’t even have a single gun yet, so there’s an autosave in the middle of the stairs making sure you don’t blunder in there and get kicked most of the way back to the tutorial)

      One issue with putting a similar autosave around here is that I think there’s only one autosave slot, which means even if the designers did something similar right before you enter Deep Storage, it would get overwritten as soon as you actually zoned in anyway. I think my Monday-morning-quarterback fix would be to make it so that the lock trigger doesn’t happen immediately, but instead after the Technopath appears. You could even make it so that the Technopath locked the door instead of Alex; this is already something that happens later in the game, so it’s not like I’m adding anything to the canon or game mechanics with this idea. This would also have the side effect of solving the “Why can’t I call Alex and demand he not trap me with a monster?” problem, although it does create the “It’s pretty lame that I unlocked the door only to have the same door locked again before I left” problem which some people would probably find worse. I dunno.

      Either way, making the event flag happen after the zone-in means that your save isn’t hosed if you’re not good enough to win the fight; it means you reload and backtrack with the knowledge that you better go back and gear up.

      1. Steve C says:

        Not ‘no save’. It is much worse than no save. It deleted the existing autosave and replaced it with a useless one.

      2. evilmrhenry says:

        I would state that just having a single autosave slot is a weakness of the game just by itself. With something this non-linear, there’s a good chance you’ll get stuck by doing something stupid at some point, even outside of corrupt saves and the like. A rotating set of three autosaves basically trades a bit of disk space for the assurance that you’ll never brick a playthrough.

        Anyway, my preferred design for keeping this fight possible would be for it to be possible to find an exit from the area that doesn’t require you to confront the big bad. (Different from the way you entered.) At that point, you can return properly equipped. It doesn’t need to be easy, just not be a combat encounter.

        1. Chad+Miller says:

          I would state that just having a single autosave slot is a weakness of the game just by itself.

          So, I went back and looked and I was wrong; the game has two autosaves per campaign slot, not one. (it’s possible the “autosave before the transition” idea is harder than I think it is, but the reasons why would be total speculation on my part)

          Anyway, my preferred design for keeping this fight possible would be for it to be possible to find an exit from the area that doesn’t require you to confront the big bad.

          This is technically possible, and probably what you’d end up doing if you’re a bit more stubborn than Shamus and refused to start the game over; killing the Technopath isn’t an objective. You’d “just” have to stealth or run your way through its chamber something like 3-4 times, while also killing or avoiding 2 weavers and a handful of weaker monsters in the fabrication chamber. (the weavers are in different areas from the technopath and each other, so that’s not nearly as crazy as it sounds)

          I mentioned this trick somewhere else in the comment thread, but if I hypothetcially had to do this with an underpowered character, I’d shoot the technopath with a pistol from the entrance until it aggroed, then use the nearby vent to sneak into its main chamber and try to do all the quest objectives from there.

        2. Dev Null says:

          Bonus points if whatever path you exit by requires high stats in the non-combat skills you’ve presumably been specializing if you’re finding this guy impossible…

    2. Michael says:

      Yes, it should be possible to retreat from the fight.

  18. The Big Brzezinski says:

    Imagine you’re taking some sort of educational course. One day, you get a pop quiz covering material from about a month ahead in the syllabus. You get a failing grade, of course. You are told to study your copy of the failed quiz and keep retaking it until you pass it. You don’t get a couple days notice to try and prepare. You can’t even have a bathroom break with your textbooks before you start. But your teacher doesn’t care if you just copy answers from another student. That’s what this sort of encounter feels like to me.

    I’m already paying attention to the game. I’m watching it, listening to it, trying to learn from it, understand what it’s saying to me. When I then get blindsided by an unforeseeable roadblock that I haven’t learned to manage, that’s fighting words. It better be going somewhere really interesting that justifies the stress, frustration, and unexpected time investment. If it doesn’t, that’s likely to be the end point for me. Real life is already plenty unreasonable, obtuse, and frustrating. I don’t need more of it from the entertainment products I purchased to help me cope.

    Fortunately, very few games I’ve come across have evoked such disengagement. I never did go back to WoW after I the first time I had to wait for a debuff to expire before I was allowed to use the group finder again. I never saw Dragon Quest 11 after the point at which they wanted me to go back in time and play God after I’d already beaten the Big Baddie (I’m told I missed about 1/3 of the game as a result). ARK went on the list after I spawned into a solo map, built a small shelter and basic gear at said spawn location, and was then attacked, killed, and spawn camped by some large predator I had no chance of defeating or escaping. I can think of more. Perhaps this list isn’t as short as I’d told myself it was. Video Games, why do you have to be bad so often?

    1. Syal says:

      after I’d already beaten the Big Baddie

      Just popping in to mention this is very standard for the Dragon Quest series. I think every game from 3 onward has a large section of game after you beat the main antagonist.

      (I dropped DQ11 much earlier; I had Super Strong monsters on, and it turns out the desert boss was Super Strong. Also turns out I’m more willing to stop playing entirely than I am to turn off Super Strong monsters.)

  19. Somaranon says:

    Have to say I had the opposite experience re the Technopath and Nightmare, partly because I suspect on my run by the time I encountered one I had psychoshock. gives you enough time to goo them or use the Q-beam.

  20. The problem isn’t that you were under-powered, it’s that the game wasn’t properly designed around its own concept. Simply put: locking the door behind you is bad design.

    Games that include ‘builds’ (i.e. mechanics and play styles that are player-controlled) have to account for the simple truth that you cannot please all builds all of the time. There is going to be a percentage of people who will not have the utensils for what you serving up and you need to account for that and the simplest way to do that is to simply give you the option to back off and try again later.

  21. Arstan says:

    I remember that the toughest fight i had in Prey was with the technopath in the lift lobby. You just go with the lift up the first time in the game, and then you have to enter a smallish lobby with a technopath and a couple of wraiths.
    But it was not a blocker, since the height of the place allows you to effectively use grenades

    1. Zekiel says:

      That fight is hilariously bad. You get to sit through a painfully long loading screen, followed by instantly being thrown into a fight where you can’t prepare. At least it’s optional.

      Conversely I recall the first time a technopath controlled a turret I set up against it, which was AWESOME. Made them feel properly scary, and added to the sense that the typhon are unpredictable and alien.

      1. Chad Miller says:

        In the DLC I got in the habit of having Joan summon a turret to scout a room before entering it. I felt pretty stupid the first time I failed to notice a technopath before doing that.

        1. Fizban says:

          I think I did the same thing: no reason not to “move that gear up!” right up until it gets yoinked away and pointed back at you. Sadly the overarching meta of Mooncrash means that it must eventually fall into a simple sprint from each character to each objective to unlock the stuff.

  22. Shufflecat says:

    I have no memory of the strategy I used to beat technopaths, even though I replayed the game very recently. To me this says that strategy must have been intuitive enough (to me) to make it not worth specifically storing in memory, as opposed to just re-inventing it on the fly. I remember them being tougher than rank-and-file phantoms (of course), but not tougher or more aggravating then the other miniboss-level enemies like the telepath or nightmare.

    I think my most hated enemy in the game were weavers, due to their shield, and ability to infinitely spawn annoying adds.

    I’m right there with you on level scaling. It’s so easy to fuck this up (apparently), and so many games do. Even big famously “good” games.

    I mean, you do want there to be challenge in the later game too, but those challenges need to change form, not simply be the same ones with higher numbers. Progress should be countered by forcing a change in gameplay or tactics, not just countering numbers with numbers. There is zero point to a leveling system if enemy HP simply keeps abreast of your DPS. It’s actually much worse than having no leveling system at all, as that “numbers go up” effect that’s supposed to make you feel good makes you feel angry instead, because you’re very transparently being lied to.

    I’ve played games where you actually get noticeably less effective as you grow “more powerful”, because the enemies are leveling slightly better than you.

    On the flipside, area-based scaling also only works if the enemies in the high-level areas are different than the ones in low level areas. Don’t just use the same enemies with higher HP, use enemies that visually communicate that they’re bad news (through actual design, not floating numbers, health bars, or name prefixes like “elite”), and are difficult because they require more advanced abilities or tactics, not simply because they’re spongier. This is why I bounced hard off The Witcher 3, for example.

  23. “I realize this design runs counter to the entire idea of a game as an escalating test of skill, but for whatever reason this progression really appeals to me.”

    This is the only kind of gameplay that makes any sense to me in a game with RPG mechanics. What’s the point in putting all that effort into creating a smart build and leveling up and gearing up to get powerfuller if the enemies are just going to be even more powerfuller? It’s okay to have the occasional really nasty boss fight, but the mooks in an RPG progression-style game SHOULD be pushovers by the time you get to the end. It’s the reward you get after you spent the early game with them one-shotting you and the mid game with them chewing you up and eating your resources. Now you get to faceroll them.

    Most of the games I really like have exactly two REALLY hard fights: the first boss, and the last boss. The first boss you encounter at the beginning when you have like three levels on you and your gear is just “I have every item I’ve found so far equipped just to fill the slot” and you have like, one special attack. That boss is there to challenge you to prove that you’ve actually figured out how to play the game, and slap you down HARD if you haven’t. Then the rest of the game should only be “more difficult” if you’re not leveling up yourself and your build knowledge and your gear well enough, but if you have, the fights are only more complex as you use more abilities/items and face more foes in more comibations. Then the final boss is there to make you prove that you’ve MASTERED the game.

    In most games I’ve played, there’s a midboss that’s actually harder than the end boss, largely by accident. But, yeah, making the combat actually get HARDER as you go along regardless of your increasing skill and gearedness and leveledness status sounds like an exercise in futility to me.

    Now, in a game that’s all about skill instead of having RPG mechanics (like, say, Portal), yeah, there should be a steady notching-up of complexity. That makes sense, because that just means that the difficulty level should stay constant relative to your skill, so it’s like practicing a piano and at the end you give the performance and show off everything you learned. That makes sense. But that’s not the same as an RPG where a lot of the character growth comes in the form of mechanical aspects of the game that are bought with TIME rather than SKILL.

    1. Fizban says:

      You know what game really screws you on this? Darkest Dungeon.

      In DD you get stronger- and then you go up to the next tier of dungeons, and your previously strong guys get their shit kicked in. And then they get stronger, and refuse to go back to such “easy” dungeons anymore, so you move them up to the next tier, and guess what happens? All the way up to the final series of static dungeons which run on completely different static mechanics, and are so zomg horrible that even the most powerful party just refuses to go in more than once, meaning that you now have a party that will only go into dungeons where they’re likely to die, and you have to grind up a whole *new* party to take another stab at the static dungeon that is designed to require multiple tries if you’re not using a guide (and you’ll have to grind them through those humps of course).

      Darkest Dungeon isn’t just punishing in its actuall combat and dungeoncrawling mechanics, which are awesome. Its whole meta progression is made of eff you. Skill is necessary, but no amount of skill will let a sufficiently underleveld party succeed, and the game punishes you for leveling up. It has these wonderful moments of feeling powerful which it then deliberately crushes, which could be some sort of Lovecraftian futility etc thing, but by the end that’s just not fun. Having not just the high combat and dungeoneering difficulty, but the framework itself grinding your face into the dirt, means that the game gets worse as you go on. I’ve never finished a game, because by the time I get to the end it’s just too apparent that the game actively disrespects my time and effort.

      Which sucks because it’s the only game I’ve ever seen that actually has the classic DnD ideas of “stock up, go to dungeon, keep moving, watch out for traps, use buffs that wear off, rest in the dungeon (and watch out for ambushes), etc” actually properly realized. It’s friggen genius. And the art is superb and the modders’ content is mindblowing. But unless you mod out things like the ban on using a party more than once (making there be no need to ever have more than 2 parties, yawn), and making people just casually respawn, the actual base game mode hates you even if you’re not playing on the time-limit difficulty.

  24. Mr. Wolf says:

    Those data vaults got launched from the station with a fair amount of force. What’s stopping them now?

    1. BlueHorus says:

      Well, the DLC is called Mooncrash… ;P

      Nah, they just magically stop in space after a bit.

  25. Laxativus says:

    Seems to me how enjoyable this game is to a player depends on how willing that player is to revise his approach. Obviously players who go in and expect to mow down enemies with guns will have the worst time. But even situations like the one that’s described need you to try something different. You have to look at every path and every tool and come up with something feasible. I believe there’s a better solution to this scene but you may have to completely change the way you approached the enemies up to that point. You have to experiment. You might not realize this on the first playthrough, though. It took me a while to notice that the Q-Beam is far from being the best weapon. That sneaking is always better. That the gloo gun is powerful, but the disruptor is probably even more so. (I think there’s only one type of enemy who’s immune to the stun, maybe two, not sure.) Always check out every possible path before you engage. And you can avoid a lot of the fights if you feel the odds are against you. Combining all these make most encounters a lot less daunting. But you have to be flexible or you will have a bad time.
    For this reason I am a lot more forgiving to such perceived difficulty-spike because they push you towards finding a different, better solution. Even if you feel you have built your character towards hacking and looting and have unimproved weapons you might find that another unimproved weapon might vastly outperform the unimproved weapon you’d first tried or a sneak stun gives you that edge you needed.
    (Hilariously, with the technopath what worked for me most of the time was simply waiting. The technopath moves around a lot and especially if they had noticed you (but didn’t become fully alerted) they will try to check your position. Very often they get close to walls or objects and the turrets orbiting them will start taking damage from being ground against those walls. After a while the turrets will take enough damage to become disabled and there goes most of their damage. Now all you need is a stun and you can just whack them to death.)

    1. Gethsemani says:

      I totally agree with you in this aspect. Prey gives you a ton of tools and some of them are way more powerful then you’d first imagine. The Recycler Charge is often mentioned as a way to avoid wasting Neuromods on the Leverage skills, but it can also trivialize most fights, even against Technopaths and Telepaths. If one of those goes off under a Technopath it will either become a pile of Exotic Materials or will lose so much health that you can finish it with your pistol. The fact that the game gives you about 20 Recycler Charges just from casual exploration (and upwards of 30 if you snoop around) means that you can almost always afford to treat yourself to a pretty light show as some supposedly nasty enemy gets turned into its constituent parts. The only real exceptions to this are enemies in the exterior and GUTS since it can be hard to aim the charges in zero g.

      1. Fizban says:

        Heh. That was actually the plan I was using against the zero-g weavers on my first run (which went human only). I would try to throw the recycler grenade, then ping the weaver’s shield so the grenade would kill them, because they were so tough and the “fear” made it impossible to aim. Eventually I realized the nullwave was the way to go, but then they run away, so I was still trying to do complicated trick shot grenade triggers and stuff. Then I started just rushing them, chasing the nullwave as close as possible without making them run so I could run them down and pop them with the q-beam reliably. Lots of reloads to get grenade timings right.

        And of course, eventually you might notice that all that alcohol that’s been getting recycled says it removes “fear,” and then you can just charge and drink it off with some annoying pause menuing.

    2. 101001101 says:

      “But you have to be flexible or you will have a bad time.”

      See, this right here is why I love Immersive Sims. They give you the tools for guerilla warfare, and you feel really cunning if you pull it off. (Metal Gear Solid 3 also had good gameplay for lateral thinking trickster-ism, where they give a series of challenges and a bunch of tools, and just let you work it.)
      Ever seen StealthGamerBR videos of Dishonored 1&2? Very neat murder sprees, like John Wick. (I also recommend his videos of the Far Cry games, where he shows us how to have wacky fun with flying explosives and arrows.)

  26. tomato says:

    Do you even have to kill the Technopath in Deep Storage? I remember there being airducts you can crawl through,

    1. Chad+Miller says:

      Yeah, you can stealth around it although the expected path through this area is: across that chamber to the security desk, back across the chamber to the staircase near the entrance, into the fabrication chamber on the 2nd floor, back downstairs to the entry to the server room near the security desk, then back upstairs to the fabrication chamber again, then finally out the other end of the 2nd floor. You may be able to skip some steps but you’d still have to slip by this thing several times.

      There is one mandatory fight with a Technopath later, because it glitches the controls to a plot-relevant door (and it stays that way even if the Technopath itself leaves to another area)

  27. Richard Jeffery says:

    Technopaths are one of the nastiest enemies in the game, but they can be shut down hard by the simple stun gun. Because they’re technically mechanical a fully charged shot disables them just long enough to get the next shot charged, so you can keep them stunlocked at least for the length of each reload, and possibly through a reload if you fire just as you hit peak charge. If you start the fight from stealth you can quite possibly keep them permastunned.

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