In a world where seemingly every game has its version of a battle royale mode as the focus of its multiplayer comes Hunt: Showdown. A breath of fresh air that introduces PVP and PVE experience that will make you appreciate whenever a developer breaks away from a current trend and tries something new. Crytek definitely did that and hit a home run of sorts as the combination of different gameplay elements and awesome atmosphere makes this one of the best games currently in early access. Let's break down why.
Hunt: Showdown is available for purchase on Steam.
Hunt: Showdown is, as mentioned, a combination of player vs player and player vs environment gameplay. It puts you in the shoes of a bounty hunter in the late 19th century and drops you in one of the maps based on swampy southeastern U.S. state, Louisiana. The twist here is that the human population has been decimated by a plague that turned them all to zombies and other monstrosities.
Each match will drop three teams of two players in a different section of the map. While I recommend playing with a friend, the lengthy matchmaking will almost always find you a teammate of your approximate level. Once spawned, your goal will be to find clues on the whereabouts of one or two boss monsters that need to be defeated in order to gain the most experience and reap the greatest rewards upon the completion of a match.
Currently, there are two maps available with one of them being in beta which means that a lot of things are subject to change. Both of these are huge, realistic and feature a ton of diverse locations. From villages both large and small to dense forests, eerie swamps, and grassy fields. Each location is packed with a nice variety of zombies ranging from regular, slow walking ones to hulking ones that can take a ton of punishment and even one shot you if you let them get too close. Keep in mind that killing them is purely optional and while it nets you some experience, it also alerts hunters from other teams to your location.
And that's exactly the big thing that makes Hunt stand out from the crowd. The blend of gameplay elements really makes you think on how you approach each match. It gives you context to think up strategies on how to deal with the task at hand. Since each team can see the location of clues needed to find the big bad – you'll carefully think how you want to approach the area. Ambush the opposing team by setting traps? Riling up the local zombies? Run for it guns blazing? Or maybe search the map hoping to stumble upon the bosses lair? You can do that and much more.
While the regular enemies don't pose much of a threat, they can and will exhaust you of limited resources should you choose to engage them. Ammo, healing and other items are in short supply and the lack of thereof can cost you the match if you stumble upon other hunters.
Dispatching the bosses is not straightforward since after killing them, you'll need to stick around and wait for them to be banished so you can collect the bounty reward. Once the lengthy banishment is initiated, its location is advertised to all players and if they are near – you can bet they'll pay it a visit to try and steal your reward. Not only that but even if you do manage to get away with the bounty – you'll still need to extract at certain locations on the map in order to finish the game. This creates another opportunity for the opposing teams to try and kill you to claim the reward from your corpse. Of course, the opposite is also true and you'll be able to do it all to other teams as well.
Each successful extraction will reward you with experience which will level up your chosen hunter and each level brings you new gear. There's also a skill system where you'll be able to invest skill points to improve your health, consumable potency and much more. There's a ton of variety when it comes to weapons and the right loadout can really make all the difference when face to face with zombies or other hunters.
On the other hand, the lack of variety in terms of enemies and maps will come full force after only a couple of matches. When starting out, the game's horror element is evident with the fear of the unknown being a big part of the overall fun. Unfortunately, only two maps, a handful of regular zombies and two bosses means that you'll soon see everything worth seeing and you'll lose any sensitivity to anything but the human enemies. It doesn't become boring by any means but the game loses some of its charm when the unpredictability and the horror element dissipate. While this can be excused since the game is still in early access, it is something to note and something that the developer should work on for the full release.
VISUALS AND AUDIO
Right of the bat – this segment of the game is absolutely incredible. Not so much in terms of insane visual fidelity but how all that's here blends well together. The realistic visual aesthetic combined with great lighting engine makes for one of the most immersive and atmospheric gaming experiences I've ever had. Be it night or day, the very fact of exploring is made great with all the small details Crytek crammed into every nook and cranny of the environments.
This is further boosted by the sound design and I can't stress how awesome it is. If you have a good pair of headphones, the 3D sound is really something else. You'll be able to pick up the most distant gunshots, near zombie moans and other hunters moving through the foliage with ease. Not only does it make the game insanely immersive but it makes sound expertly interwoven with the gameplay since the game heavily relies on audio and visual cues to alert you where and how distant the enemy is.
In conclusion, Hunt: Showdown is an awesome multiplayer experience. It looks, sounds and plays amazingly which is a great feat, especially when talking about an early access title. The developer has a clear roadmap for future development that will hopefully address the lack of variety when it comes to maps, bosses and mission objectives. Nevertheless, I can wholeheartedly recommend Hunt even now to anyone who wants a smart, immersive and above all else – fun gaming experience that is bound to only get better as it approaches its full release date.