Hunt: Showdown treads both familiar and unfamiliar ground in Crytek’s multiplayer horror shooter. It’s a game that evokes elements of DayZ, PUBG, and even Resident Evil. The game is full of macabre, gross creatures, and creepy environments that’ll sketch anyone out. The fear, tension, and excitement is punctuated by slow-firing and reloading late 19th century and early 20th century era weapons. It’s especially scary to play solo. Though, Hunt: Showdown is best when played with other people, and even better with friends. This is a game that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat for every match.
Hunt: Showdown has a forced tutorial that’s extremely helpful, and it teaches you the above in what’s essentially a bot match, and with easier enemies. You’ll pick your first hunter, which they’re basically the same except the weapons are different; the choices being a revolver with a stock, shotgun, sniper, and standard rifle. You’ll confusingly be given a choice between two different playstyles: Gunslinger or Hunter. I’m not sure why anyone would choose the latter, but it basically describes them as guns blazing vs stealth focused. Though, I wish it would show you the differences because it’s never really clear. From there, you’re let loose to begin the game proper. And even that is a slow ramp up.
Crytek offers up PvPvE game that’s a little bit survival-horror, a sort of battle royale, and a whole lot of fun. Over the course of six rounds of updates in Steam Early Access, Hunt: Showdown has emerged in full with an incredibly interesting premise and match-based loop that feels really dialed in. There are four stages that occur in each match in order to win: First, you must investigate clues to whittle down the map to where the boss is located. Second, once you either narrow down or find the boss, you must kill it. Third, now that it is dead, you must now banish it. Which this process takes a long time. This is where the game shifts. All players now are able to see where you are banishing from, and will likely start coming your way to stalk or kill you. Once banished, it will leave behind a bounty token. Fourth, grab the token and take it to an extraction point marked by a horse and carriage. The hard part is getting there, because players are working their way to you, alongside the world enemies that roam the lands barricade the way. Once you extract, you earn all the money and experience acquired. And that’s the core loop to the game that encapsulates each match, but the time of day, weather, and number of players are always changing from match to match.
Set in the swamps of Louisiana, you’ll traipse across tentacle-infested waters, with creatures lurking within, tangle with roaming armored enemies, and even have to shoot the ones that’ll send a swarm of bees after you until you kill them. There’s a lot of enemies that, if you make too much noise, can get caught up in fighting them, which can attract attention of nearby players. And if you’re fighting the roaming enemies, you’re not banishing one of the three monsters in the world that your competitors are. If you know that other players are in the area, you can use distractions like a piano or record player to draw them in to an area for an ambush, or a trap-laden house like it’s “Home Alone”.
The audio deserves a special shout-out, because Crytek has absolutely nailed it in this department. Not only is every sound in the game amplified, whether it be the sound of chains rattling, leaves crunching, or the horrific sounds of the creatures roaming the land, but the guns sound especially great. The hidden gem of the entire game is “3D View”. It reads like it’ll merely be a 3D rendered visualization of a gun in a menu, but it is so much more than that. So in the store, you can view any gun whether you own it or not. This does give you a rendered view of the gun, and you’re able to fire it at will. You can actually zoom out to reveal that you are essentially on a target range that has markings for every one hundred meters until the 1000m mark. This feature single-handedly teaches you the unique sound of each gun, and what they sound like at each distance. If more games don’t copy this feature, then I’ll be supremely disappointed. Lastly, the music all around is incredible, evoking a modern western film score, and the main menu music is guaranteed to be the newest ear-worm that refuses to leave.
From the start, you have an ability of using your hunter vision, known as dark sight to see where the first three clues are. Dark sight evolves as clues are discovered and monsters start to be banished. The evolution of dark sight gets spookier and more visually interesting. Ultimately it’s final form is Dark Sight Boost which only happens once you’ve acquired a bounty token and are eligible to extract. It will show you where all remaining enemy players are at, it’s a limited time effect, but extremely helpful in giving you that advantage it’s designed to give.
Your character is only ever temporary, and they will die. Each time you take a character into a match, you risk losing them forever. But if they don’t die, they earn experience to unlock new weapons and gear. There’s only one safety net, and it’s that you’re placed in “Trainee Mode” until account level 11. This means up until then, your characters are brought back and fully healed. Once that level is reached, the next death your character faces will be their last. Should they survive, any damage they have will persist into the next match. Account levels are known as Bloodlines, which offer a means to show persistence and even Prestige should you reach Rank 100, and then start over in the progression like you would in Call of Duty multiplayer.
As with many games, there’s Daily and Weekly Challenges with their own set of rewards for completing them. There’s a real sense of reward in this game alone, but these keep you coming back daily. Playing Hunt: Showdown solo is possible, offering you a bonus for taking on such a big challenge. You can add someone to your group randomly or from your friends list. From there you can do a Bounty Hunt which uses the rules outlined before, or Quickplay which places twelve players onto a map in a free-for-all (FFA) section of the map to capture the most energy. It’s a decidedly different mode than the core mode, but good for solo players and a change of pace.
There’s a store for you to buy weapons and accessories that you’ve unlocked by using the money you’ve earned from bounties. There’s also a roster to recruit new characters, view your stats, put points into upgrades, or entirely respec your character for a fee. There’s even a library to read lore about the game, the monsters you’ve faced, and the guns you use. The more monsters you fight, and the guns you use, earn mastery in that particular area.
PC Specs of Review System:
– Microsoft Windows 10 Pro
– Intel Core i7 6700k @ 4.2Ghz (Turbo)
– NZXT Kraken X61 106.1 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler
– G.Skill Ripjaws V Series 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR4-3200 Memory
– EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FTW 8GB GDDR5X
– Seagate 2TB Barracuda SSD SATA III 6Gb/s Internal SSD Drive
CryEngine works in spectacular fashion here. It becomes a game that asks “Can it run Hunt: Showdown?” because I can only run it between Medium and High settings in order to achieve 60fps consistently. It’s an a stunning game. The shadows, light shafts, details, and dense thematic design all come together in incredible ways.
Hunt: Showdown is Crytek’s finest work to-date. The gameplay loop is equal parts exciting and dangerous, never feeling at ease in any given match. This is the best the CryEngine has ever looked. Hunt: Showdown is an evolved multiplayer shooter where the horror elements permeate throughout. Hunt: Showdown is an absolute gem for all the genres it plays a role in.
A Steam code was provided by the publisher for review purposes