If you are a PC gamer or like making informed purchases then you clearly aren't in Bethesda's target demographic for Prey. Here are 5 things I wish I knew about Prey before buying it, but have zero chance of finding out.
Bethesda's current anti-consumer review code policy still insists on sending out copies of the game on launch day or a whole generous day before release. Combined with the fact that there is no demo or trial for the PC version, this has left me with exactly 5 question marks floating above my head.
Will it run on my system?
PC gaming has its quirks. Players often find themselves unable to run a game despite their hardware being well above recommended system specifications. Reviews and tests on various systems can help resolve this question, but since there aren't nearly enough timely reviews to venture a guess on, I have no clue if Prey will run into trouble on my system. The game's creative director suggesting players should use Steam's refund system to find out for themselves doesn't quite fill me with confidence.
Are there buggs?
Sure, the first hour was playable on consoles, but again, not on PC. Even if there was a hour long demo for all systems, this doesn't necessarily mean I won't run into some game breaking bug somewhere after I'm 10 hours into the game. There is also no way for me to know whether the game has stuffed all of its best content into the first few hours in the hope that its later potential shortcomings might be excused based on that. At this point there is no way for me, a potential customer, to know if the game's final boss consists of a CTD puzzle or not.
How much content is there?
Before I, the preferably informed customer, make a purchasing decision - I fancy knowing how much of a time investment a game requires. I enjoy knowing whether I'm in for a short Portal-esque 5 hour experience, or an epic 50+ hour journey. This I would find out in reviews, which are in short supply at this point. Knowing the approximate amount of content in a game can help me decide whether Prey is worth the AAA price of admission or not. Steam user reviews can alleviate this concern somewhat, but a dedicated player is no substitute for a professional review.
Buy it now, later or never?
There is currently no way for me to figure out if I should be getting Prey now, waiting for a discount or skipping it altogether. I am curious if there is any advantage to any of these approaches. A game can be as brilliant as it wants, if I am left with the feeling that I have paid more for an experience than what it's worth to me subjectively, I won't be a happy customer. Since I'm not in the habit of pre-ordering, I'm left to decide, without much information to go on, wether I wait for some hypothetical DLC or GOTY-like bundle for half the price, or commit to a purchase now.
Will Bethesda sue me if I pirate prior to purchasing?
One of the reasons why Prey might not have a PC demo is because Bethesda was too busy taking legal steps against everything the light touches and at the slightest provocation. Not allowing for timely reviews and withholding a PC demo are a clear signs of an attempt at strong-arming the customer. So, if I decide to respond in kind, and pirate Prey before I purchase it, am I justified in doing so from an ethical point of view? It's definitely illegal, but I am confident that ZeniMax's and Bethesda's legal teams are in excellent shape to deal with a single instance of piracy, since they got so much practise in the last few years.