A couple of years after its premiere in early access, Hunt: Showdown is now finished and available on PC, PS4 and Xbox One even in cash. We take this opportunity to revisit Crytek’s multiplayer horror game: how are your online hunts and how has the time passed?
I think horror games and multiplayer games don’t get along very well. Monsters and zombies lose strength when you go in a group when you feel powerful, and things begin to transform into a “see who kills more” festival. Some large franchises have tried to mix water and oil in experiments like Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City and their results were … improvable. Even the most popular titles like Dead by Daylight, where the villain is a player, have trouble satisfying the public. Where does Hunt: Showdown sit in this room?
Well, very easy, he takes his own chair. Crytek is unmarked from the fast-paced action of Crysis or Far Cry, betting on another hallmark: tension. You are not going to panic playing Hunt. You will not have your heart in a fist while exploring dark aisles, nor are there encrypted events to discover. Players have the same role as you and have the same capabilities and vulnerabilities. However, you can be sure that at some point you will pray that they will not see you, that you will curse when an alarm goes off that you did not want, and that you will run for your life when you carry a valuable contract on you.
And how do you get these sensations so interesting? Well, essentially, attacking the only thing that matters to everyone in this kind of game: progression. In essence, Hunt: Showdown makes you learn the mechanics and environments, level up and unlock equipment for our character either playing or paying. Flirt with the idea of playing to get valuable things, and then lose those same things temporarily if we don’t do it right. And of course, the gameplay itself is designed in such a way that during 90% of the game we are worrying not to screw up. And although on the table it may seem very tricky on the part of the developers, the truth is that it is fun.
Hunting for monstrosities
Something has the swamps of Louisiana to become the favorite scene of so many movies and horror games. If you did not put your hands to your head with “The Human Cayman (1959)” you will still be more convinced by the leeches, hounds, and undead that Crytek puts on the table. All, logically, stand between our hunters and the objectives of their prey, which serve as bosses and are the main protagonists of the “main” mode, Bounty Hunt. We do not know what we are facing until the game has begun, and once inside, we have to search for randomly hidden clues on the map with the help of an alternative vision mode.
When you think you have everything under control, you step on a branch or a broken glass bottle or scare a horse that alerts enemies
The idea of exploring an open map, looting things while reducing the available space is nothing new, it has developed in parallel to the growing interest in battle royale games. But don’t be confused, this has little in common with those. We have very clear objectives in the game and the map is full of creatures, traps, shortcuts, and quite varied geometry. We will always face similar situations, but as they say, what really matters are the friends we make along the way: there are enemies generics you kill by instinct without disheveled, others want to pass by without alerting them for fear of getting the attention of a more dangerous elite, you may want to take the risk of looting ammunition and first aid kits from a building. You cover your partner’s back, look before moving forward, you may be surprised by a hidden enemy and the noise generated will put you in a bind. It is the kind of thing you like.
It may seem too much a movie to be real, but it is. Even if you are an experienced player, a blunder can make you lose forever your hunter and everything he carries with him, so make sure everything goes perfectly. And just when you think you have everything under control, you step on a branch or a broken glass bottle, or you scare a dying horse that catches the eye of other horrors. And maybe you have to improvise there. As we said above, it is a matter of tension, not scary. And at that point, the game does a great job. Beyond how sinister the scenario is, how well it changes from fog to twilight or the scares that crows occasionally give you by your side, the interesting thing is how to integrate everything with the gameplay, the random generation of enemies and objectives and possible tactics to follow in each situation.
The sound is one of the keys to enjoying Hunt. A scenario full of enemies and nothing more does not say much, but when the rest of the players pose a threat or you simply go wrong with supplies, any tread, the howl of the wind or even the crops bending when passing between them unconsciously increase your stress level. And this, in turn, grows as the game, when facing bosses, losing allies or taking new risks. The former not only have interesting mechanics such as running through walls and ceilings, teleporting or catching fire, but they also make so much noise that they attract the attention of other monsters … and hunters, of course. Everyone wants to get the reward and escape aliveWell, it’s the best way to get experience and money.
But of all the threats present, the greatest of all is your own clumsiness, the misguidance that leads you to screw up here or there. The enemies are certainly not hustled at all. They respond to the sounds, they detect you and attack you as expected, but they have zero intelligence and only pose a problem when they form a group or you don’t have the right tools to deal with them. Even the elites do not demonstrate the ability to do something other than run towards you to harm you. Bosses are much better, as I said before. They have interesting mechanics and know when to flee and when to chase you, and the houses where they hide always offer several tactical possibilities.
Once the boss is dead, the game does not end: you have to banish him from this world in a ritual that lasts 200 seconds and deal with the rest of the players at the same time, which is said soon! Of course, those moments where the bullets fail and the character reloads slowly and awkwardly can get you crazy, and then it’s time to escape alive. If you fail to survive the game, you lose your character, but at least the experience you would have gained with anything other than a reward is transmitted to your account through a “lineage system.” So it’s time to hire other hunters, equip them properly, and try to keep them alive for longer this time.
It is a delicate progression, but quite well framed. The game is generous enough to allow you to buy new weapons and consumables on a regular basis, but what interests you is to keep your hunters alive and unlock new slots of equipment and skills. Much of the grace of the long-term game lies in the legendary weapons and hunters, which are tied to a premium currency that can also be achieved by playing. These precious pieces can also be lost, but if necessary, they can be recovered by standard credits. As fussy as it may seem, the cycle works well: each hunter has his own progression, but the lineage is what counts at the end of the day. Each loss is rather temporary, you know that you will recover again after a few games, and these are long enough (about 20-40 minutes on average) to make you see each new piece as an investment and an achievement.
If it sounds too challenging to understand at once, neglect: the game accumulates numerous updates behind its back, and among the many things that have improved since its premiere as early access you can find a more complete and improved tutorial and character protection until reaching the level 10. It has a good difficulty curve, has its own rewards and you can also revisit if you want to try other weapons or tactics, or simply explore the map better, without risking losing your character in a standard game. Also as part of the post-launch support came the quick start mode, which is played in games of 12 players without teams. It has a small number of objectives, the action is more direct and focused on the PvP, although you can assume that the core of the game is Bounty Hunt.
On the other hand, it would be good if more technical problems had been corrected today. Most bugs presented by the game are not serious, but there are also exceptions such as groups of enemies that appear out of nowhere. Spanish localization should also be greatly improved(only available in texts) that mixes English, with Spanish, with Latin Spanish, and presents other varied errors. Luckily, at the performance level, the game moves quite well in resolutions up to 1080p. From there, the thing gets exponentially complicated. Sufficient graphic configuration options are offered on PC, including essential options such as manual frame stop or field of view. Logically, console versions are more limited. All run at 30 FPS, quite solid though, although PS4 Pro and Xbox One X enjoy better resolution and revised graphics.
It is strange for an open world online game, but Hunt: Showdown brings a fresh and interesting idea, and also different sensations to those we usually see in horror games. The decisions of other groups of players put us in tension and force us to improvise, and we are constantly balancing the things we lose with the ones we unlock. It’s fun? Yes. Is it worth repeating these missions for a long time? We leave that in your hands.
- The sound section is beastly, has a great level of detail and immersion.
- The sensation of cumulative tension in each game and the debauchery in the last bars.
- Fights against bosses quite well achieved. I wish there were more!
- Some weapons feel coarser than “heavy” or “hard to handle.”
- There are technical problems with weight, and the location in Spanish is much better.
- You often depend on your partner not to lose your character, and it is frustrating.