In my yesterday’s article I mentioned that I have had a horror game marathon for the past month or so. In continuation of it, I had the pleasure of playing the Early Access version of Crytek’s Hunt: Showdown. I have been following this game for good four years or so, or in other words, ever since the original Hunt: Horrors of the Gilded Age gameplay was shown off at E3 2014.
The original concept of hunting folklore monsters in four player teams fascinated me, and I created this image in my head that Hunt will be a mix of Left 4 Dead teamplay and Witcher 2 monster contracts. The gameplay footage and trailer also showed that the game will be set in Louisiana’s murky swamps, which was the perfect setting for such a game, both because Louisiana’s folklore is full of disturbing monsters, haunting rituals and voodoo customs, and because being in a swamp with water up to your knees, in a middle of a night while surrounded by growling zombie-like monsters is damn scary.
Although at first, I did not like the third person view, as I think that it really numbs the scare factor and takes away from horror immersion, the in-game characters with all their cowboy hats, old-west dusters, and the lever-action rifles looked pretty badass. Besides, the developers further promised fully customizable looks thus justifying this approach.
Concept Art released back in 2014 when Hunt: Showdown was still called Hunt: Horrors of the Gilded Age
After the E3 showing everyone went silent on the Hunt, and beside the announcement that Crytek took over the development following Vigil Game’s bankruptcy a month later, we got practically no new information on the game for the next few years. In 2017 we finally got a new trailer, and we discovered that the game was now renamed to Hunt: Showdown and it went from being PvE to a mix of PvE and PvP. The gameplay camera was also changed from third to first person, meaning that we wouldn’t be able to enjoy our custom characters outside of the selection screen anymore. Nevertheless, the game looked much better than before, with weapon design and light effects being absolutely marvelous. In February of 2018, Hunt: Showdown was released on Steam as an Early Access product.
Although I am very skeptical of unfinished games, mostly due to DayZ’s ongoing fiasco, a close friend got it and recommended we play together. As I was done with Nosferatu, and my emulator was still not working, I decided to pull the trigger and buy Hunt: Showdown. Ever since then, I played a couple of rounds with my friend and I must say that I have mixed feelings about it.
Good things first.
The graphics in the game are spectacular! I do not have the most powerful rig out there, so I only get to play on medium settings, but even so, the environment and light effects, and especially the fire, look exceptional. What was promised in the trailer was delivered by the developers even in early access, which is very important for the future, as there were many cases such as The Division and Watch Dogs, were graphics were significantly watered-down in the final release.
Developers also paid a lot of attention on the weapons and their design, as Hunt: Showdown sports a wide selection of weapons many of which are based on real-life ones. Weapons are very detailed with many scuffs and dirt marks on them, and the reloading animations were individually made, making the use of every gun a unique experience on its own.
Sounds are also a strong suit of the game. Gunshot echo was nailed by the Crytek team, as the sound of every bullet travels throughout the map alerting other players and enemies of your position. Same goes for the animal noises, as well as enemies’ growling which can be heard from some distance away, and serves as an indicator that someone is around.
In-game screenshots featuring different weapons and environment and i just wish sound can go with these pictures.
Gameplay-wise Hunt is very satisfying in the first few hours. It is fun to both shoot and sneak around the enemies, especially during the night time missions as they are very dark and require player’s full focus. Lack of disposable ammunition also means that players must ration their use of bullets, as running out of ammo will not just put you in disadvantage against other players, but will also make the boss battles impossible to finish. Hunt: Showdown also allows for tactical approach to final boss hunts. Players can either go in guns blazing, but with limited ammo they need to be careful not to run out of it, or they can strategize and pre-plan the final encounter. Upon arriving at the location of the final boss, players have short time frame to prepare before the creature arrives. This gives them time to set up barbed-wire barriers or light fire in order to limit the battle area, which is a neat mechanic as it allows hunters to make their own hunting grounds and lure the prey in.
Now for the bad things.
First - Matchmaking takes too long.
As the game format was changed and is now playable only in teams of two, it is not possible to join the game on your own, and players need to wait matched with a buddy with whom you are to play. As the game is still in early access, the gaming community is not that big, meaning that this concept really prolongs the waiting time. There by, if you are playing on your own, be prepared to wait.
Second - Two player teams are not very fun unless you are with someone you know.
Maps in Hunt: Showdown are huge and very detailed, and it comes natural that players want to explore them. Because of this, do not be surprise if you wait for ten minutes and then get matched with someone who just wonders off instead of trying to hunt the creature with you. This will put you in an immediate disadvantage as you won’t have a healer, nor a fire support against enemies and other players. Therefore, I think that four player teams would make much more sense, as there will be more comradery as was the case in L4D series.
Map and Character selection screen
Third - PvP elements are completely unnecessary and should be optional.
Unfortunately, Hunt: Showdown also fell victim to the Battle Royal craziness that is currently going around, as every game needs to be played against ten other players grouped in teams of two. As every team hunts the same creature, it is inevitable for players to eventually meet and be forced to gun each other down. This makes room for exploit, as players could simply camp outside of the battle zone and wait for the fight to be over, and then run in and mow down the already injured players who just put all the effort in killing and banishing the monster and steal their bounty.
Fourth and final - The enemies are still very dumb and lack variety.
The Hunt: Showdown currently has only two bosses, one is an overgrown spider and second is a Bucher monster, that somewhat reminds me of the Keeper from the Evil Within, except this one wears a dead-pig’s head instead of a safe on his head. The spider is fast, attacks melee and shoots poison from afar, while the Butcher follows you are around and tries to hit you with his meat hook. Both available bosses are just giant bullet sponges that will go down after being shot or set on fire for long enough, so although I mentioned that it is fun making tactics, in the current stage, it is not very necessary. Regular enemies are also unimaginative, dumb and slow. There are currently only five types of enemies, one of which is just a mini version of the Butcher boss. They lack any dangerous attacks and move very slow, so getting overwhelmed by a large group or getting attacked by an unexpected monster is the only way to really be hurt.
Two of the bosses available for hunt as of the current release
Summarizing everything, the Hunt: Showdown is a fun game in the first few hours. It is visually stunning with great sounds and gun mechanics that are going to fascinate most of the players at first. However, the game seriously lacks any content at the moment. Although it is fun experimenting with different weapons and perks, hunting for only two available bosses gets rather tiring after a while. Nevertheless, this game is being built on interesting ideas and by a powerful company that has some excellent games behind it, and I believe that Crytek will fix all of the issues I mentioned above. I also hope that in the final release, players will be given the freedom to decide what mode they want to play, instead of being forced to participate in this Battle Royale-like-PvPvE gameplay. Overall, I do not regret buying Hunt: Showdown, but I am sure to be taking a break from it, at least until more enemies and bosses are added and until matchmaking times are cut shorter.
Hunt: Showdown is currently 20% off on Steam and is available for 23.99 USD.
Edited by EchelonBrk