PREVIEW: HUNT SHOWDOWN Will be Your Next Multiplayer Addiction

 Just you and a buddy against the world

Just you and a buddy against the world

I thoroughly enjoy unique multiplayer experiences. I’m willing to try anything that challenges the norm and offers fun, smart, and balanced gameplay. Some of my favorites include Splinter Cell’s Spies v Mercs, The Last of Us multiplayer, Gun Media’s recent Friday The 13th game, and Fortnite’s Battle Royale just to name a few. All of these titles are unique in their own right but share one common theme. They all offer a multiplayer experience that you can only find by playing these games, breaking the traditional “deathmatch” modes and offering a new spin on winning. Crytek’s Hunt: Showdown is attempting to capture this same essence and offer a new multiplayer experience. I recently spent much time with the Closed Alpha over the past few days and the game left me wanting more. Let’s dive deeper into what you can expect from this new beast and if it brings anything fresh to a constantly evolving industry.

THE BASICS

You and another player play as a team of supernatural bounty hunters set in the 19 century. You’re tasked to hunt down a giant supernatural creature in a large open world map. You must gather clues throughout the map to try to pinpoint the location of the bounty. The world is filled with other dangers that you will encounter on your journey such as zombies, demonic dogs, wraith-like creatures, and others. They are not your main objective and killing them isn’t always the best course of action. You must plan your attack strategically with your partner and watch each other’s backs because you won’t be the only hunters on the map. There are five teams in total, tasked with the same objective as you and they are more than willing to take you down and grab the bounty for themselves. Check out the video below from Crytek to get an in depth look at how to play the game.

You start out by selecting a Hunter to recruit. At the moment there is no customization options but Crytek is considering allowing players to customize their hunters with various clothing options. You choose between a set of randomized hunters, each having their own distinct positive qualities. Some have stronger weapons, better items, or better traits. Traits give the hunter special perks in-game such as fast stamina recovery or the ability to hold more than one two-handed weapons at a time. Once you find the one you want, you use gold to hire the recruit and begin your hunting career. Gold is also used to buy weapons, consumables, items, and other things for you inventory before you begin your hunt. I made sure to always have a flashlight, revolver, knife, and a medkit before venturing off with my partner. The alpha limited the number of weapons and items you can buy so it is hard to get an estimation on how many different weapons there will be in the game. Once you’re all geared up you then choose a contract. The Butcher and the Spider were the only choices in the alpha and you could choose if you wanted to play during the day or at night. After selecting, you either party up with a buddy via invite, get matched up with a random player, or you can choose to run solo. Mind you, if you choose solo you will still be pitted against other teams and not other solo players, so good luck.

GAMEPLAY

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 After loading into the map, you and your partner need to gather your bearings. Open up the map and see where you spawned. The map is littered with supply posts where you can gather ammo and medkits if you seem to be running out (and you will). You then need to search for clues to help pinpoint the creature’s location on the map. By holding “E” you activate Dark Sight which turns your view into a negative colorway and highlights the direction of the next clue in a blue shade. Once you find the clue you will see an updated version of the map with a portion of it shaded out. This will continue to narrow down the location of the creature until you have found three clues, in which the creatures location will finally be marked on your map. In my playthrough, clues were randomly dispersed and the distance between them were almost never the same. Some clues would be right next to each other while others made us trek the map for some time before finding them. The clues were never hard to find, its all about finding them quick and with as much ease as possible. You could attempt to sprint to every clue one after another, but you will probably end up getting killed by another hunter who’s being a bit more careful than you are, so patience and smart play was key.

 There are a lot of NPC’s on the map, randomly generated throughout the world. They didn’t give much of a problem and they are fairly easy to kill but I don’t think that’s their purpose. You don’t start out with much ammo when you spawn and you can’t hold very much ammo at all in Hunt, so conserving ammo for when you really need it is extremely important. You wouldn’t want to waste all your bullets on zombies and other creatures when you have a giant creature and other hunters to worry about. Not only that but firing your gun at ANY time will give away your position to other hunters. I found myself using the knife or a machete to dispatch these NPC’s most of the time and it seems to work quite well. You do gain XP for killing NPC’s but just be careful and know when to engage, they can crowd up on you quick and then you’re out half of your health.

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Running into other hunters is half the fun of this game. My first playthrough I tried to avoid other hunters as much as possible, trying to learn the game and the map before daring to fight anyone. My partner and I would plan our strategy and start trekking the land to our next clue, talking about random things and making conversation while enjoying the beautiful scenery Hunt offers. We were sure to keep it down when we heard gunshots in the distance, knowing that the voice chat is proximity based so other hunters can hear you chatting if they are near-by. This allowed us to set up ambushes within the game and sometimes making us immediately change our course of action on the fly. This feature is found in other multiplayer games, but Hunt makes well use of it and further adds to the immersive experience and tension. Once you manage to kill another hunter you will be awarded with more XP for your hunter and your bloodline (more on this later). If you happen to get killed, then your partner has the ability to revive you. There is no countdown timer to revive a fallen partner but you can only be revived once per game. If you and your partner die its automatic game over for the both of you and you leave the match and exit to the menu.

If you happen to find all three clues and locate the supernatural boss creature on the map, your next task is to kill it, banish it, and take the bounty and escape alive. I played against both The Butcher and the Spider during both the day and at night. The Butcher is a huge brute, slow and strong attacks with a weakness to fire. While The Spider had unbelievable speed and an immunity to poison. Both bosses required different strategies to take them down depending on your team’s equipment and the location in which they spawned. Even though I was hunting the same bosses over and over again, the experiences never felt the same. If you manage to kill the boss you and your partner must then banish the creature back to where it came from. I don’t know the exact time it takes to banish but its long enough for other hunters to show up and try to take your bounty from you. When banishment starts, all hunters can see where the banishing is taking place via the Dark Sight. A huge swirling storm shows up in the direction of the bounty, so you and your partner need to be on your toes and ready for defending. Once the process is complete you’re not out of the clear just yet! You and your partner (if they are still alive) can each grab your bounty and start heading to one of the exits on the map. You have to make it out alive in order for the bounty to count so this is definitely the most intense part of the game. Smart hunters will try to ambush one of the exits and take the bounty for themselves but planning and strategy is key.

If one of the opposing teams manages to make it out alive with the bounty’s then the rest of the surviving hunters have five minutes to escape the map or else they will all be killed. Five minutes doesn’t seem like much but it’s more than enough time to make it to one of the exits on the map.

XP AND PERMADEATH

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Hunt: Showdown features a permadeath system for your hunters. Every hunter gains experience after every match they survive. This experience can help the hunter gain access to better traits and other perks to give them an edge on the next match. If your character dies, all that experience and inventory is lost but your overall Bloodline experience will always remain. Your Bloodline is essentially your main Rank and will help you unlock the ability to buy better weapons, items and higher Tier hunters. This permadeath system adds a bit more tension to the game, making one player think twice about taking too much of a risk if they have put a lot of time into crafting and tailoring their high-level hunter. This could cause some players to exit the game early if the player feels the risk is too great, and that if they don’t get caught by another player on their way to one of the few designated exits on the map. It is an interesting system and one that isn’t seen much in games and has me excited as to what Crytek plans on refining this feature. As for money, it can be used to purchase weapons, items, consumables, and hire new hunters. Money is gained by finding clues, finding the bounty first, and escaping the map alive with the collected bounty.

GRAPHICS

Absolutely one the most beautiful games I have ever seen. The Cry engine is stunning and truly outdid itself with Hunt: Showdown. Light streaking through a forest looks incredible, reflections from the swamps and the creatures themselves are all very detailed and have a true “powerhouse” feel to it. The screen shots you see all look the same if not better in-game. Now, I would be lying if I said the game was flawless, this is an alpha after all and issues are bound to happen. The developers stated multiple times that the closed alpha wasn’t optimized just yet so a lot of the processing was being handled by the CPU as opposed to the GPU. Basically, rendering the game almost unplayable at times with the frames dropping so low that the game would freeze for about four seconds every so often. I did experience this in my playthrough with the Alpha but I was also able to experience a few flawless games as well, with zero to little issues. At the time of this writing, the developers have announced that they have shutdown the servers to the alpha until further notice due to the optimization issues that many were experiencing but plan on bringing the servers back online at some point.

IS IT GOOD?

Yes! The closed alpha showed me that Hunt: Showdown is definitely worth keeping tabs on. It is doing a lot right with the FPS genre and bringing a fresh experience to gamers. It feels like its own thing and had me wanting more, even with the technical issues. Crytek seems to be still accepting sign-ups for the closed alpha so be sure to sign-up if you haven’t already. The servers are currently down but Crytek plans on bringing them back online soon. Hopefully we’ll see you in the closed alpha and happy hunting!

We want to know what you think of Hunt: Showdown so far. Is this one on your radar or is it a pass? What kind of multiplayer games do you like? Let us know in the comments!