Hunt: Showdown is a survival horror game from developers Crytek which takes the first person shooter genre back to the 1890’s. It blends P v P (Player versus Player) with P v E (Player versus Enemy) with some deadly results.
In Hunt: Showdown, the player takes on the role of a hunter who is a part of a hunting society that track and kill the various monsters of the world. Players must be exceptionally careful, as one wrong move can lead to the loss of everything as each character only has a single life. One life would be fine if it was only the bounty that was a threat but there are threats everywhere. The environment, the creatures, the bounty and other hunters all pose a threat to the life and success of a hunter, and this all adds to the thrill of the chase.
The first impressions of this game are that of an early Walking Dead episode. The colours, scenery, environment and enemies in the game create a sense of tension and the need for survival that the TV show offered. It is a world where everything is against you and it is your time to shine or die trying. To help the player survive the game leads you straight into a tutorial. Once the tutorial is completed the player has two options. They can either play the longer Bounty Hunt (1 hour maximum) or the shorter Quickplay game mode (approximately 15 minutes).
In Bounty Hunt the player recruits and levels individual hunters to take part in the hunt. Each hunter has one life only, meaning that death is permanent. There is a safety net for new players and that is a grace period of 10 player levels which removes the permadeath aspect. Player levels allow each gamer to earn experience over all game modes, where hunter levels are hunter specific within the Bounty Hunt mode. So manage those first 10 player levels wisely.
Once the player enters the map in Bounty Hunt they must track bounties by discovering clues through the use of the skill known as “dark sight”. This darkens the world and highlights the direction or clue in blue (or red when another hunter is near) to assist hunters navigating across the world in search of clues. As the hunter collects these clues, the potential location of the target becomes smaller and once 3 clues have been collected, the exact location is identified. The hunter must then locate and attack the bounty, banish the defeated corpse, acquire one of two bounty tokens dropped and extract from one of three designated points across the map without being killed by other players or the environment. Both banishing the defeated bounty and hunter extraction take time and requires the hunter to defend in a single place. Plus carrying a bounty token lights the hunter up for all to see, making this a challenge for even the most experienced hunters.
The other option available at any point within the game is an early extraction, this is where the hunter can head to an extraction point and leave with all XP received up until that point. This helps keeps the hunter alive but is a slower method of progression for each hunter. This vital decision point will follow players throughout each hunt and is a decision not to be taken lightly. Permadeath is a real risk and having a higher level hunter adds to the suspense and sometimes frustration of the game. Permanent death of a hunter may seem insignificant now but levelling up unlocks skills and enhancements to make each hunter more lethal.
Hunter customisation doesn’t stop there either. On top of unlocks and skills acquired through levelling up the player and hunter, there are also weapons and equipment to customise prior to the next hunt. Rifles, shotguns, pistols, crossbows, heath packs, traps, fire bombs and more are all part of the hunters kit bag. Money earnt through in-game actions and completing challenges allows the player to purchase these weapons and supplies for each hunt. This money can also be used to recruit hunters to replace those lost along the way.
The other mode encountered within the game is Quickplay. The player is presented with a hunter based on a preferred play style and enters the field of battle as a Damned Soul with only a pistol to defend themselves from everything that lurks in the shadows. The aim of this mode is to secure 4 rifts that will allow the hunter to return to that land of the living. This is Hunt: Showdown’s battle royale mode and each hunter scavenges for weapons, locates rifts and defeats other players and enemies in an attempt to be that one player to make it out alive. The big perk of winning is that victorious hunters can be recruited into a players Bounty Hunt squad, with all perks and weapons that it left the battle with. This is a nice touch as it creates a link between both game modes and makes those victories even more rewarding.
Across both modes the game environment is the same, deadly with a wide range of monsters. These monsters range from immolators (a fire based lost soul that bursts into flames and burns everything it touches) and a walking Hive (that fires bees in the hunters direction, infecting the hunter on impact) through to your more pack based creatures like Hellhounds and Water Devils, a deadly pack of monsters that lurk in the water. On top of the monsters that inhabit the broader world, there is those that the player is actively hunting which are the bounty targets. There is currently three different bounty targets who provide more of a challenge than other monsters scattered throughout the world. These targets have a lot more health and require a bit more of a strategy to defeat. All in all, everything wants to kill the hunter and there is something lurking around every corner to do just that.
Surviving an environment like this is better with friends and this game allows online co-op for up to three players which is always a great option. We all need someone to watch our back in an environment as dangerous as this. Such a deadly environment does not create a family friendly game though which is reflected in the MA15+ rating, so definitely make sure the kids are tucked away in bed before you put those headphones on yo hunt those monsters. If the kids haven’t gone to sleep though, they could be waiting up to an hour as there is no option to pause mid game. Now is your next decision, do you take the loss of your character, the wrath of your significant other or try to extract? Speaking of headphones, full immersion in this game definitely adds to the atmosphere, so turn that surround sound up or chuck those headphones on and immerse yourself fully in the game.
One issue that was encountered early on in the game was long wait times and a lack of other players. As with all online games, they are dependent on an active player base and this one is only slightly different. The environment is deadly enough that it can kill the hunter but with no identifiable option for a P v E only experience, it will make it hard without other players. Wait times did improve but there is no doubt that this game and like all online only games, it can depend on that player base. A solo or co-op P v E mode definitely would not go astray to help solve the issue.
Overall this is a great experience for those looking for a decent survival horror based competitive multiplayer game. The world is immersive and deadly and the consequences are permanent. The mix of P v P and P v E works well in this game and creates a title that the more strategically minded player will love. Those looking for a more casual experience may need to look elsewhere as there is no option to fill the world with A.I. style hunters and this world relies on an active player base which may be a concern for longevity of this game.
The game will be revisited after launch to see if wait times and P v P encounters increase.
+ Immersive world
+ Sound and game design is great
+ Smooth gunplay
+ P v E v P
– No single player option
– The lore is there to be unlocked, but you need to remember to do it.
– Better in teams
– Online only game that is dependent on an active player base
– New players may find this frustrating
Score: 7 / 10
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*Please note that this review code was provided for review purposes. All thoughts on this title is that of the reviewer and the OMG team.