Hunt: Showdown is a terrifying, tense experience that had me on edge within the first minute. The newest game by Crytek, Hunt: Showdown is PvPvE (Player vs Player vs Environment) game that tasks players with tracking down a demonic monster in a Louisana swamp. However, users will then have to banish that monster to Hell, collect the bounty, and then escape without dying. This is easier said than done since the world is not only filled with dangerous monsters but other players willing to kill you for the bounty. Players aren’t required to actually hunt the demon, only to escape with the bounty in hand. Death is permanent and will result in a player losing their hunter and equipped gear.
Where Hunt: Showdown shines is in the carefully crafted world that it presents before the player. Full of rotting corpses, dilapidated buildings, and horrific monsters, it’s easy to lose oneself when hunting down clues. Yet, those details aren’t just for show as various parts of the environment will react to a player’s presence. Wounded horses with neigh loudly and crows will fly up into the air which can easily give someone’s position away to other hunters. Patience is the name of the game, with smart hunters using the sounds of their environment to their advantage.
Hearing an enemy coming or discovering their position via gunshots can determine whether it’s life or death. Battles are often swift and brutal, with bullets dealing a lot of damage to both monsters and human players. Bringing up the iron sights is a two-step process and it will severely limit a user’s peripheral vision. This enforces a slower more deliberate style of play that throws out typically fast firing, frantic gun battles. It’s vital to weigh the pros and cons of each weapon before you begin, as some weapons simply won’t perform well in certain scenarios.
Drawing inspiration from games like Darkest Dungeon, Hunt: Showdown’s death system acts as a constant reminder of what’s at stake. Since hunters rank up and gain experience after each successful game, it’s easy to become attached. In order to give them the best chance, it’s recommended to equip them with purchasable gear like dynamite or health packs. However, if they do die then a player’s investment is lost and they’ll have to buy a completely new hunter. It’s cruel, but not in a way that ruins or disrupts the gameplay. Death is a learning experience and it will certainly punish those who play recklessly. This makes Hunt: Showdown extremely addicting and engaging from the moment you boot up the inventory screen.
Despite having a hauntingly beautiful world, the Hunt: Showdown has some pretty noticeable performance issues. The framerate dips constantly, especially in more chaotic scenarios where players are hefting bombs at one another. There are also no options to adjust various aspects of the graphics, but that’s okay since this is not a technical test. Hunters also have wonky animations and have a bad habit of getting stuck on objects in the environment.
On the other hand, monster animations and movement performed wonderfully. Despite some minor clipping, the variety of behaviors and movement patterns keep killing the undead from growing dull. Hunt: Showdown also has some of the best ambient sound design I’ve heard in years. It’s clear this was a large focus of the game and Crytek should be commended for how well everything organically melds together. Sprinting through the world will muffle the sound of zombie groans making it easier for them to sneak up on users. In contrast, walking lets every creepy sound instill a sense of paranoia and tension.
It’s a deeply uncomfortable world that stuck with me well after my time with it.
There is a lot to love already in Hunt: Showdown, especially for those looking for something a bit different. Fighting through the hellish swamp is fun both alone and as a team, especially since players aren’t bound to any specific style of play. Freedom in how one approaches the overall objective is the name of the game. It’s just as viable to go hunt the demon normally as it is to wait and pick those trying to escape with the bounty. For the most part, it’s a well-balanced experience that will certainly craft some great water-cooler moments.
Going forward it’s vital for Hunt: Showdown’s performance issues to get polished to a brilliant shine. In a game where literally every decision matters, things like framerate dips and awkward animations need to be a thing of the past. It will also be intriguing to see what other levels, weapons, and monsters get added into this game before it’s actual release. While there are some noticeable issues, Hunt: Showdown is a game that should absolutely be on your radar.
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