One of the most interesting games this console generation was Evolve, a strategic player-versus-player experience where a team of four hunters would have to work together to track and kill a player controlling a monster, who could use deadly abilities to attack the hunters. The game eventually fell apart due to a low player count, but the concept behind Evolve would go on to inspire another development studio: Crytek, who are notable for being the creators of the Crysis franchise. Hunt: Showdown, a new Xbox Game Preview title, is the result of that inspiration, and while it's (expectedly) rough around the edges, Hunt: Showdown might just become the next big hit if the rest of its development goes smoothly.
The smell of blood is in the air
Essentially, Hunt: Showdown is a mashup between the monster hunting mechanics of Evolve and a battle royale game. 10 players spawn into a square kilometer-sized map equipped with guns and some tools, and are tasked with tracking down the target monster on the map, defeating it in combat, and then carrying the proof that you killed it to one of several extraction points on the map. However, there's a twist: other players can kill you, and if you kill the monster and take the loot, everyone left alive in the match will be alerted and they'll able to get a rough estimate of your position, meaning you need to book it to an extraction point as fast as possible. What's worse, there are other miscellaneous creatures all over the map as well, ranging from zombies to giant muscular mutants, and if you don't take great care to avoid disturbing them, they will attack and you'll be forced to use precious ammunition against them, as well as give away your position.
In order to succeed, you'll need to be quiet and smart. By avoiding thick shrubs and tall grass, for example, you can greatly reduce the risk of noisily disturbing wildlife. Staying in shadows is also a good idea; during nighttime matches, you may need to use a lantern to see, but this could also act as a shining beacon to anyone nearby. If you come across a player who seems to know what they're doing, choosing to tail them from a safe distance may lead you right to where the target monster is located. If that player doesn't notice you, you can get the drop on them and then take the loot for yourself. And if you manage to make it out with your loot, you get money that you can use to equip your character with better gear. In addition, every match awards experience as well, which can be used to unlock some special traits for your hunter. Dying effectively deletes your hunter from your roster and all of the gear they had is lost, but experience and money carry over to your new character, ensuring that you don't have to start entirely from scratch.
Things are looking great
Presentation-wise, Hunt: Showdown is fabulous thanks to its excellent texture quality, gorgeous lighting, and vibrant color palette. There are some issues with some frame rate drops, though, and some particularly nasty problems with draw distancing. In addition, the user interface feels rather cluttered and still needs some work. These kinds of things are expected with an Xbox Game Preview title, however, and if the development of the game continues smoothly, I think that Hunt: Showdown has a very bright future.
Final Thoughts on Hunt: Showdown
While it could do with more polish as things are right now, Hunt: Showdown is nevertheless one of the coolest multiplayer experiences I've played in a while. The gameplay feels really tense and strategic, and I love the concept of hunting down evil creatures hiding in swampy marshes or rural towns. I'm looking forward to whenever the game launches in full; I think this is a game that I'll be playing some more of in the future.
Hunt: Showdown is expected to release officially sometime in 2019.
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