Prey introduces an interesting take on skills: Memories and abilities can be recorded straight from one person’s brain and injected (through the eye socket — ew) into another person’s. This is how you unlock and upgrade your abilities. Context aside, there are familiar pieces here: A skill progression tree and a currency that’s required to unlock them. Let’s talk about neuromods and the skills they let you unlock.
In Prey’s story, neuromods are the recorded memories and abilities of a person — presumably an expert in some field — that can be downloaded (injected) into someone else’s brain. In practice, neuromods are the currency you’ll use to unlock the various skill trees. You’ll find neuromods scattered all around Talos 1 as you play.
The abilities you unlock break down into three categories.
The abilities in this category are generally about medicine and hacking. There are two trees in the scientist category: Physician and hacking.
- Physician 1 and 2. The physician abilities increase the effectiveness of medkits.
- Necropsy. Necropsy lets you get more valuable organs from Typhons. This ability requires Physician 1.
- Metabolic Boost. Metabolic boost gets you more health from food and makes the well-fed status last longer. This ability requires Physician 1.
- Hacking 1 through 4. Hacking lets you gain access to (or bypass) computer systems. This ability is useful for bypassing keypads.
There are four sub-categories to engineer, and they all focus on the more mechanical aspects of your interactions with the world of Prey.
- Leverage 1 through 3. Leverage determines what you can pick up. The higher the ability level, the heavier the thing you can lift.
- Repair 1 through 3. Repair abilities let you fix broken machinery (things like recyclers and turrets) around Talos 1.
- Gunsmith 1 and 2. Gunsmith lets you use a weapon upgrade kit to improve your guns (but not your non-standard weapons). These abilities require Repair 1.
- Suit Modification 1 through 3. Your suit has two important features — pockets (inventory slots) and upgrade slots — and these abilities expand both of them. These abilities require Repair 1.
- Dismantle. Dismantle lets you take apart items in your inventory and turn them into spare parts, which you can then use to repair other things. This ability requires Repair 1.
- Materials Expert. This is a pretty straightforward skill — it just increases the yield when you put stuff into a recycler.
- Lab Tech 1 and 2. This ability is like Gunsmith above, but allows you upgrade non-standard weapons instead. This ability requires Materials Expert.
- Impact Calibration 1 and 2. These skills decrease the effort required to swing your wrench and increase the damage your wrench deals.
- Pulverize. After Impact Calibration, Pulverize adds even more damage to your wrench. This ability requires Impact Calibration 2.
Security abilities are all about combat.
- Firearms 1 and 2. These abilities increase the damage dealt by security weapons (guns).
- Conditioning. Conditioning is a general improvement to all of you physical capabilities — health, stamina, speed and stealth. The branches on this part of the skill tree specialize and improve those capabilities even further.
- Toughness 1 through 3. Toughness increases your health. This ability requires Conditioning.
- Stamina 1 and 2. Stamina, as you’d expect, increases your stamina. This ability requires Conditioning.
- Mobility 1 and 2. Mobility lets you move faster. This includes everything from running to sneaking. This ability requires Conditioning.
- Combat Focus 1 through 3. This ability slows your enemies and surroundings into bullet time — time slows down for you, letting you get off extra shots or outmaneuver the bad guys.
- Stealth 1 through 3. Increasing your stealthiness means you make less noise moving around and attract less attention from the various things trying to kill you.
- Sneak Attack 1 and 2. When your enemies are unaware of you, these abilities let you deal extra damage to them. These abilities requires Stealth 1.
Editor's note: There’s more to learn about Prey’s neuromods, but that information necessarilly includes spoilers, so we’ve put them beyond the conveniently tall image below.
Typhon neuromods and skill tree
During the "Detour" objective of Prey’s main storyline, you’ll pick up the psychoscope and start researching typhons. This research unlocks new neuromod abilities, so long as you’re OK with literally injecting aliens into your eyeball. While that might sound terrible, the powers you get, like mimic matter and psychoshock make it a pretty tempting proposition.
Before we get to the typhon abilities, one other ability gets added to your neuromod menu. Under scientist, you get a new branch of the skill tree starting with psionic aptitude. These abilities are all about your psi gauge and your new psychoscope.
- Psionic aptitude 1 through 3. These abilities increase your available psi pool.
- Neurostimulant 1 and 2. These two increase the effectiveness of psi hypos, restoring more of your psi gauge with each use. These abilities require psionic aptitude 1.
- Psychotronics 1 through 3. Your psychoscope, like your suit, has slots available to install chipsets — these abilities unlock more slots. This ability requires psionic aptitude 1.
Now things get really interesting. The big (and poorly kept) secret of neuromods is that they are not only made of typhons, but they can also be used to bestow typhon abilities on humans.
Just be aware that as you install more and more of these, the station’s automated turrets will no longer recognize you as human, and will attack you as though you were a typhon.
- Kinetic blast 1 through 3. How about the power to kill a yak from 200 yards away with mind-bullets? That’s kinetic blast, Kyle.
- Lift field 1 and 2. Lift field is the same ability you may have seen used by poltergeists. It will lift your enemies into the air and trap them there. These abilities require kinetic blast 1.
- Electrostatic burst 1 through 3. This is similar to kinetic blast, but with electricity.
- Electrostatic resistance. This ability reduces the damage you take from electricity, and makes you immune to being stunned. This ability requires electrostatic burst 1.
- Electrostatic absorption. After you already reduce the damage you take from electricity, you can also turn some of that damage into psi points instead. This ability requires electrostatic resistance.
- Superthermal 1 through 3. This ability turns your brain into a flamethrower.
- Thermal resistance. This ability works like electrostatic resistance above, but with fire instead. This ability requires superthermal 1.
- Thermal absorption. This ability works like electrostatic absorption above, but with fire instead. This ability requires thermal resistance.
- Mimic matter 1 through 3. These abilities let you mimic matter just like a mimic. You can mimic increasingly complex things as you increase your level.
- Regeneration 1 and 2. When you take any damage, these abilities regenerate some of your health. These abilities require mimic matter 1.
- Phantom shift 1 and 2. These abilities unlock a short-distance teleport-like ability that leaves behind a decoy for a few seconds. Picture the Picard maneuver.
- Ether resistance. This ability works like electrostatic and thermal resistance above, but with ether instead — like the damage you take from etheric phantoms. This ability requires phantom shift 1.
- Ether absorption. This ability works like electrostatic and thermal absorption above, but with ether instead. This ability requires ether resistance.
- Phantom genesis 1 and 2. Phantom genesis lets you put all of those corpses you keep finding to work for you by creating your own phantoms.
- Backlash 1 through 3. Backlash lets you create a shield that with repel the next one, two or three attacks made on you.
- Fear resistance. This ability reduces the length of the fear status. This ability requires backlash 1.
- Psychoshock 1 through 3. Psychoshock lets you attack the mind of an enemy directly, both dealing damage to it and nullifying its psi abilities for a few seconds.
- Mindjack 1 through 3. Mindjack lets you take control of biological enemies for a few seconds in the same way a typhon telepath does. It also frees humans from a telepath’s control. These abilities require psychoshock 1.
- Remote manipulation 1 through 3. Retrieving objects (and pushing buttons) with your mind is unlocked by this ability.
- Machine mind 1 through 3. This ability acts like mindjack above, but with robots (like turrets). This ability requires remote manipulation 1.