PREVIEW / Hunt: Showdown (PC)

 

With the landmark success of Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds last year, it was inevitable that industry leader and developers would jump on the battle royale train (it seems like Fortnite and PUBG trade off on dominating gaming news headlines each week). It’s nice to know that while the juggernauts of the genre slug it out on a daily basis, Hunt: Showdown lurks in the shadows, slowly building up a community in Steam Early Access of players who love the heightened suspense and horror the game delivers.

 

Grunts are everywhere on the map. They are fairly easy to kill and farm for end-of-match bonus money, assuming you make it out alive.

 

I had a brief look at this game during the pre-alpha limited release and after it hit early access, and I was impressed by the premise and scope of the game. You play as a bounty hunter in the late 1800s, whose goal is to investigate and destroy horrific occult creatures across a large bayou. But you’re not the only one looking for this beast. You and a partner are up against multiple teams of two that are all tracking the same bounty.

 

 

Not only that, but you have to find it while fighting off various different types of undead using an arsenal of shotguns, rifles, handguns and good ol’ melee combat. After finding your target, it up to you (and hopefully a partner) to take it out, or simply lie in wait for other players to do your dirty work. The fights are very tough–guns in Hunt fire deliberately and reload slowly, and different targets have strengths or weaknesses to different tactics.

 

This is The Butcher, and he is absolutely terrifying. Make sure you come packed with a shotgun and explosives or he will make quick work of you.

 

What’s immediately striking about the game is the importance it places on sound. Gunfire echoes across the map, chains clatter loudly, your boots clomp through muddy swamp water and cause wood to creak and groan. Managing your sound level is key to navigating safely through the map to your goal, especially if you don’t want players to know you’re there. Other players will be listening and watching every detail, because unlike other battle royale style games, Hunt doesn’t tell you how many players are left or if any of them have died, which amps up the tension in every match by never giving players a chance to relax.

 

 

Multiplayer progression is also deeply impacted by player deaths. Players can hire different hunters with varying passive skills or abilities, but they are not permanent. Dying in the match means you lose that hunter and have to start from scratch. There is a Bloodline ranking that tracks your overall progress and awards you access to better guns and equipment for purchase, so losing a character isn’t completely awful, but it’s a real kick to the gut when you lose your most experienced hunter.

 

This is the last place where you want to experience performance issues, but they will happen. And it sucks.

 

Crytek has created a battle royale style game with a lot of promise, but it’s still very much an Early Access title. Load times are atrocious in some circumstances, and the game is prone to chug even on the lowest settings. For context, I’m using a GTX 970 and i5 6600K which meets the games recommended hardware requirements, and I was getting better performance in the invite-only alpha than I am now.

 

 

That being said, the dev team is very active right now in putting out patches for performance and addressing networking issues, so if they keep up their pace I could expect Hunt Showdown to be ready for full retail release by early next year or even the end of 2018. I’m excited to see where this creepy, disgusting and exciting horror story goes next.

 

 

 

This preview is based on and early access copy of the game provided by the publisher.

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