The floorboards of the decapitated gloomy basement you are hiding in creeks with the footsteps of your adversaries above, voices muffled and frantic and they search the house looking for you. Your health is low, heat throbbing in your chest and you’ve only got 4 bullet’s left in the chamber of your colt Caldwell Conversion Pistol. You used the rest killing off the remain squads teammates in an ambush 10 minutes ago. To you left the stairs softly creek as a rival hunter slowly descends, hugging the wall as they move. You raise your muddy pistol, line up your iron sights and try to still your shaking hand. This is your moment to turn the game around… this is Hunt: Showdown!
It’s 1890 and the swamp filled marshes of Louisiana are teeming with the undead, hunted by gruesome and wicked bosses hidden away from prying eyes. You are a hunter, contracted to liberate the area from the clutches of the dark spawn, banishing them back to hell where they belong. The issue is that you are not alone…
Hmm, who to kill?
Hunt Showdown is an online team-based dark first-person shooter developed and published by Crytek. The goal of any given match is simple. Either as a solo hunter or as part of a 2 or 3 man crew traverse the environment, collecting clues to the location of the maps bosses all the while battling undead minions. Find the boss, kill the boss, banish the boss and then get the hell outta dodge! Seems simple enough right? Wrong! Complicating matters (and what contributes to Hunt Showdown’s heart thumping, blood boiling dynamic matches) is the fact that other posses of hunters assigned to the same bounty and unlike the mindless undead these guys are smart and won’t hesitate in killing and stealing your bounty if they get the chance.
How to do you wanna play this one?
At the start of every match, each team ultimately needs to make a decision. Do you go after the other hunters? Or do you try and gather clues and find the boss. Finding the boss and escaping racks up the most XP which you can later use to customize your hunter’s loadout, but it’s also the most dangerous. A team can play an almost perfect match, finding all the clues, destroying the boss, (maybe even killing a few other hunts along the way) only to be ambushed and killed by a rival team camping at one of the extraction points (sneaky, I know!).
This is what makes Hunt Showdown matches so thrilling and unique. Human choice is a spanner in the works which adds a layer of complexity to the game that’s sure to keep you on your toes, eyes scanning your environment and heart throbbing. You just never know what’s going to happen in a match.
Risk and reward.
Further complicating the game and giving it a sense of permanency and consequence is Hunt’s unique permadeath mechanic. When you begin a game you choose from a roster of hunters you’ve purchased using in-game XP and currency. Each hunter has a unique set of skills and weapons that you’ve unlocked from previous matches, or through in-game purchases. As you win games using a hunter they level up, but if you die with a hunter… well, they’re dead! The hunter is lost, and so is all that XP and any weapons you had assigned to that load-out. While the consequence of an untimely hunts death can feel brutal at times there is a meta XP bar that gradually fills up as you play and can be used to unlock more powerful weapons and items. Thankfully this meta XP is unaffected by individual hunters deaths. Regardless of this fact, you still don’t want to lose hunters. It hurts. I’m speaking from a lot of experience.
Sound design is KING!
I’ve been playing video games over 25 years now and never have I seen sound design used in a video game to such effect. Hunt Showdown is a masterstroke in effective, engaging and inventive sound design.
Sound in Hunt Showdown is not simply a tool used by the developers to fill the empty soundscape or complement gameplay. The sound is the gameplay at its very heart! The flapping sounds and squawking from a murder of crows can give away a rival teams position. The sharp snap of a stick under your foot can spell instant death for a player if an attentive sniper is nearby. When you are in the basement of a rundown house, the creaking of floorboards can be the difference between your survival and your enemies vengeance.
Nervous gunshots cascade and reverberate off buildings walls. Blunt melee weapons dull thuds can mask and hide the assault on a zombie-infested farmhouse. Understanding the significance of sound in Hunt, and using it to your advantage is one of the key elements to becoming successful in matches.
So, is it right for me?
Well, that’s the question, isn’t it? If you are an FPS fan and love heated multiplayer matches it’s probably worth giving a try. However, it will be people who love tactical shooters with slow, well thought out matches like that of PUBG who will probably find themselves most at home in a game like this. In summary, if you like the tactics of Rainbow 6 Siege, but are happy to sit under a bush for 20 minutes waiting out crew help up in a railway house, this might be the perfect game for you.
- Amazing sound design
- Large variety of guns and weapons
- Every game is different and exciting
- Difficulty can be brutal and unforgiving at times
- Gameplay can seem slow at times
- There are long load times on the PS4 version of the game