Thanks to the broadening horizons of the gaming industry, it's not often that new games feel fully unique. Most titles feel reminiscent of games that released prior to them. Recent Call of Duty games (aside from WWII) play incredibly similar to the Titanfall series, for example.
Because of this, Hunt: Showdown, an Early Access Steam title currently in closed alpha, has me ecstatic due to how it doesn't feel like anything else on the gaming market. While it does take inspiration from Battle Royale titles and 2015's Evolve, Hunt: Showdown's gameplay experience feels completely fresh.
The lowdown on Hunt: Showdown
The premise of the game is simple: Monsters have taken over the world, and in order to survive, humanity must hunt them as close to extinction as possible. Aside from ensuring the survival of our species, hunters are encouraged to do this by promises of wealth for anyone who can prove they were capable enough to slay one of these creatures. Either alone or with a partner, these men and women risk everything for the chance at fortune.
Unfortunately for them, they're never the only ones pursuing that goal, and as a result, the hunters have to fight and kill both each other and the monsters in order to achieve victory. This is the basis for Hunt: Showdown's gameplay experience: Battle to be the last man (or pair) standing in a hostile world that threatens you both with player-versus-environment (PvE) and player-versus-player (PvP) scenarios.
At first, it seems like a clone of recent Battle Royale juggernaut PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) with a PvE twist. However, this is not the case. Though the objective is to ultimately be the last people standing, directly fighting others isn't always the best or most advantageous course of action.
To find the monster on the map, you have to track it. This is doable by everyone in the match, but some players will undoubtedly be better at it than others. If you spot a player who appears to know exactly how to track the creature's location, it's a lot smarter to follow them stealthily until they find the beast, kill it, and then you can kill them and take the prized items that they obtained. Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg of different advantages, big or small, you can obtain from opting to avoid a kill-hungry style.
It's also important to note that the monsters aren't slouches. Though not as intelligent as other real-life players, the beasts will defend themselves ruthlessly. If you don't engage them with a plan in mind, you're likely to end up a bloody, mangled corpse.
From a visual perspective, Hunt: Showdown is absolutely gorgeous — I wouldn't expect anything less from the developers of the Crysis series, which has historically had phenomenal graphics. The visuals really contribute to the immersion in the game, and players who can learn to use the excellent lighting to their advantage by sticking to the shadows will find it much easier to stay out of sight.
Unfortunately, the title has numerous technical glitches, ranging from framerate hiccups to annoying issues launching the game. Though these take away from the otherwise great experience, it's important to remember this game is in the closed alpha state, and these things are expected. Given the fact that the Crysis games run very well (provided you have adequate hardware) I'm confident that Crytek will iron these issues out.
Hunt: Showdown is currently listed on Steam Early Access, though it isn't open to the public for purchase at this time. Still, you can click the link below to visit the Steam page. Make sure to check out the game's website as well.