Heading into a behind closed doors presentation of Crytek’s new game Hunt: Showdown, I actually knew very little about the title. It’s rare for this to happen, usually I’d heard about the game long ago and scheduled the appointment specifically because I thought it looked cool. Here, I was totally blind, just going off some comment from a co-worker that this could be really good. Turns out it was one of the better looking games at all of E3 2017, despite not being in a playable state just yet.
Hunt: Showdown looked like a tense multiplayer experience
Crytek has always been known for putting out gorgeous looking and competently made shooters. While they haven’t had a massive hit in a while, they’ve always had a knack for crafting some of the best looking games, even if the gameplay wasn’t quite up to snuff. With Hunt: Showdown they once again hit the visuals out of the park, and it seems like they might have melded in some nice gameplay as well.
The game is multiplayer focused, pitting up to five teams of two against each other in a large, open map. The setting is quite important here, with players traversing the swamps of Louisiana. Weapons include the usual staples of shotguns and pistols, all period accurate to the Victorian age, with a gothic twist. The map, which according to Crytek stretches about a square kilometer, is full of little details. Lakes, rivers, towns, random buildings. Based on the difficulty of the mission you’ll also find random enemies scattered about.
In the story of this world, the walls between universes are stretching thin, with this being a key area of supernatural activity. Monsters of all kinds are coming over into our world and our “heroes” are hunting them down for the valuable bounty on their head. On this quest to find one of the big baddies players will have to contend with smaller enemies like zombies, as well as other players.
This is where the DayZ comparisons popped into my head, but don’t let the bad taste that game left you with color your expectations of Hunt. I’m talking about the good parts of DayZ, like when you’re exploring and notice some other players wandering about. Do you confront them? You don’t have to, but if you don’t they could come back and get you later. Maybe PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is a better comparison, but that game seems to funnel players together more.
Hunt keeps things pretty loose until the actual final hunt begins. Players wander the map, all hunting the same main foe(s). By tracking down areas of high energy players can find hints to the final creature’s location. This manifests as a flash in the demo, which you can actually check out below. This short video lets you know what kind of enemy you’re up against and possibly where they are. Players who know the map well might need just one of these hints, but three are offered, with the last hint essentially saying “go here!”
So, if you’re a talented team of two then you can get in, grab a hint, figure out where to go, and get to the monster before anyone else. There’s just one problem. Once you kill the monster you have to “banish it”. This will essentially send up a flare letting all teams know exactly where you are and what you’re doing, and what’ you’re doing is stealing all the valuable loot.
So everybody quickly descends upon your location, but if you’re good and fast you can get the loot and get out before that happens. In the demo shown to me another team does show up and a tense firefight ensues. Hunt: Showdown has a sort of permadeath system where you lose some of your items, and your customized character if they totally die.
Teams really need to stick together as they can revive each other, but once they’re eliminated they are out of the game and they’ll have to make a new character using some of the freed up resources of the now dead one. Called Bloodlines, it’s an interesting new take on semi permadeath, making Hunt: Showdown a bit of a roguelite title in some ways.
Once you successfully banish the beast you are now carrying the bounty that everyone is seeking. If you die the other team can snatch it, denying it from your team. If there are multiple objectives you now have to decide whether nor not to make a run for the exit, which in the demo involved securing a bridge with a really cool looking barb-wire grenade.
Hunt: Showdown looked like a tense multiplayer experience that is already ahead of the trends we’re seeing in the genre. Customizable characters with a semi permadeath system adds a lot of interesting elements to this game, which is already full of intrigue thanks to the universe Crytek is creating. If it had been a hands-on demo it could have easily been one of the best at the show.
Crytek’s Hunt: Showdown is still really early in development, so it doesn’t have a release date just yet. The developer did make it clear that it would not be a free-to-play game, so expect a full experience when it does hit. The game will arrive on PC first, with PS4 and Xbox One versions planned for later.