The Alien series already had a video game entry to tarnish its name, so it was only a matter of time before Predator got one. I don't think Predator's will go down quite as badly (there were a lot of other factors that led to Colonial Marines' controversy), but at the very least, the game will fade into obscurity. There's nothing memorable about it.
Developer IllFonic had a lot to learn from its other asymmetrical multiplayer title, Friday the 13th: The Game, which was met with mediocre reception, and it appears that the studio couldn't quite capitalize on that knowledge. Predator: Hunting Grounds is a mess. There's fleeting enjoyment to be had if you can team up with your friends, but it remains unbalanced, unpolished, and lacks the soul worthy of the franchise name.
That's not to say Predator needs to, or even intends to be taken seriously. Its movie entries range from campy and cheesy to downright bad; they're brainless, action-packed popcorn flicks. But the series built up an iconic status among sci-fi media anyway. Predator: Hunting Grounds just feels lifeless in comparison, rarely as thrilling as its silver screen counterpart.
Bottom line: Remember the dumpster fire that was Alien: Colonial Marines? Just imagine that, but instead, it's an asymmetrical multiplayer game featuring the Predator. Is it technically playable? Sure. But you won't want to play it for an extended period of time. Please don't waste your money on this.
- Fun concept
- Sound design is immersive
- PS4 and PC cross-play
- Character customization
- It's playable
- Graphics are poor
- Unbalanced in favor of the fireteam
- Missions are boring
- Frequent audio and visual glitches
- Long queue times for matchmaking
- Not enough incentive to progress
- No replay value
- AI is incompetent at best
- Only a handful of maps
Disclaimer: This review was made possible by review codes provided by Sony Canada and Sony US. The company did not see the contents of the review before publishing.
Predator: Hunting Grounds What I like
I don't want this section to be as short as it will be, but there just isn't a lot to praise here. The idea of a Predator hunting down a fireteam seems really awesome in theory. In practice, it's boring and dull. The best parts are hearing the Predator let out a terrifying roar and tear your teammates to shreds behind your back. The sound design in that regard makes for an immersive experience. It's just shame that the feeling of dread this evokes is few and far between.
|Publisher||Sony Interactive Entertainment|
|Players||Up to 4 on one team|
|Platforms||PlayStation 4 and PC|
Predator: Hunting Grounds also supports cross-play between PlayStation 4 and PC, which I hope is a trend that more games continue to follow. Because it's an asymmetrical multiplayer game where one person plays as the titular Predator, it doesn't seem like PC players would have an unfair advantage over the others. Not as if it were a multiplayer shooter like Call of Duty. Players always have the option to disable or enable cross-play in the menus. Of course, this assumes that you can even get cross-play to work because it's not doing so 100% of the time right now.
Specific to the PC version, there's a fairly wide range of graphical settings. It seems well-optimized and supports downsampling. It's not going to blow you away, but if you have some decent hardware, it'll look far cleaner and nicer than the console versions, not to mention the vastly increased frame rate providing a smooth experience. The mouse and keyboard layout aren't perfect, but it works, and it supports native rebinding so that you can change things up to your liking.
There's not much else to say here other than it's at least playable. The foundation is certainly there, IllFonic just couldn't quite nail the execution.
Predator: Hunting Grounds What I don't like
It's hard for me to think of a scenario where you get the rights from 20th Century Fox to make a Predator game, and this is what you release. That Sony published this is embarrassing.
I played primarily with random people online via matchmaking but also hopped in a few matches with fellow Windows Central writer Samuel Tolbert, and we both agreed that Predator: Hunting Grounds left a lot to be desired. It became apparent early on that the graphics were grainy on both base PS4 and PS4 Pro, there were frequent audio and visual glitches, and the AI seemed to be a bit broken. You know how in Skyrim if you have a high enough sneak skill, you can crouch right in front of someone and they won't see you? Picture that, but there's no stealth skill here to speak of, just incompetent AI.
Upon starting one mission, the subtitles just started shaking violently, at a speed which made them almost unreadable both the both of us. While Sam descended into fits of laughter, it certainly doesn't make for a pleasant experience.
Its missions are also dreadfully boring. From the few maps you can play, you're normally either trying to eliminate drug cartels or collect intel. This amounts to running between a few locations across the map and defending your objective for a minute or two before moving onto the next. I couldn't tell you exactly what I was doing because I don't remember. It's that forgettable. These missions exist as a simple reason for you to be in the jungle with the Predator hunting you. You could eliminate them entirely and the game would effectively be the same. In fact, I'd much rather the game focus on the predator/prey stalking aspect and trying to take down the Predator than cheap filler missions. If you've played one match, you've pretty much seen all the game has to offer.
Out of all of the matches I played, the Predator only ever won once. It's egregiously unbalanced. And that time the Predator won? Well, that also happened to be the one time I had a fireteam of three players instead of four. The Predator is certainly harder to kill because it has a lot more health and is far more agile, but it also isn't a match for four other players. Once you hit it and track the glowing green blood trail, it's not too difficult to spray some bullets into it until you put it down for good.
Playing as the Predator doesn't particularly get your blood pumping, either. While you can unlock better weapons and upgrades the more you play as the Predator, I don't think it's worth it to do so. You'll almost always lose your match. Some heat vision and tactical cloaking doesn't exactly even the battlefield.
You'll also spend a good chunk of time aimlessly jumping between trees before you even spot a fireteam. And if you try to fire your rocket at them, it can sometimes explode on the foliage instead. And there's a lot of foliage. Gotta love those pesky hit boxes. This is a double-edged sword because while your rockets can get stuck, it also means that the tree branches are destructible. Being able to shoot out the tree branches beneath the Predator's feet is such a great little feature, just one that's implemented poorly.
Be prepared that if you want the play as the Predator, you're looking at matchmaking times upwards of seven or more minutes. Usually, the queue will tell you that you'll need to wait around three to five minutes, but I always found it to err longer than that. As for joining a fireteam, you can do so in about a minute or less.
What weapon upgrades and gear you can unlock from leveling up, there's not enough incentive there to keep playing for any extended period of time.
Should you buy Predator: Hunting Grounds? No
I'd imagine if you can get a group of four together for a complete fireteam, you'll have much more fun with the game. That generally stands for any multiplayer title, but even more with Predator: Hunting Grounds. Sam and I had a good time laughing at the game. Playing it? Not so much. But it was nice to joke around and commiserate with each other about the audio and visual glitches. I still wouldn't buy it even if I had someone else to play it with, though.
And is it worth playing by yourself with randos online? Definitely not.
With its lack of polish and little replay value, I find it hard to recommend Predator: Hunting Grounds to anyone. Maybe if you ever find it on sale for $10 or something, but definitely not worth $40. This is another swing and a miss from IllFonic. Some good concepts and sound design don't outweigh its shortcomings.
No… just no
A disservice to the franchise
Remember the dumpster fire that was Alien: Colonial Marines? Just imagine that but instead it's an asymmetrical multiplayer game featuring the Predator. Is it technically playable? Sure. But you won't want to play it for any extended period of time. Please don't waste your money on this.
The idea sounds cool indeed. Shame it is badly executed.
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