Hunt: Showdown Alpha Preview

Mark Gray
In Short
So intense you'll need a shower afterwards.

Even before I knew Hunt: Showdown was from Crytek I had to pick my jaw up off the floor when I witnessed alpha footage from the game. I had no clue what the objective even was, but when I saw zombie-like enemies, highly detailed environments, impeccable sounds, and smooth gameplay I knew that I had to get my hands on this game.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Crytek, they are a developer known to push game detail beyond the norm and deliver a life-like experience. The game skips a plotline, at least in alpha, and you play as a Hunter that can go alone or alongside another Hunter to experience a Player versus Player versus Environment (PvPvE) battle royale. Hunt's PvPvE consists of a group of players randomly spawned across a large map and their primary objective is to find the boss who is also randomly spawned within the environment. The boss can be found by finding clues throughout the map. Each clue found will narrow the location of where the boss might be. Find all clues and the map will indicate the actual location. If an individual or team has defeated the boss prior to you finding all the clues, it will be indicated on your map. When the boss is defeated it must also be banished which takes a significant period of time. Once the boss is banished a bounty can be taken from it which will bring in a ton of experience if you successfully escape with it. Only problem is once the boss has been banished, everyone knows your location and will be coming after you and the bounty. Even if the bounty is picked up by a player, others can enable a type of sight to indicate where the player might be with the bounty. If a player kills another with the bounty then it is up for grabs. Each match is filled with intensity, uncertainty, suspense, creativity, strategy, and mayhem. Such a simple concept, yet very fulfilling.

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Hunt is currently a Steam Early Access game though I had only experience with the Alpha which had two playable maps. If you have ever been in the swamps of the South I would say the two playable maps are a representation of that. Each map has several dilapidated locations that hide clues and are swarming with enemies. You are in control of your destination and style of gameplay. Approach slowly and plan out your attacks, go in guns blazing, or a mixture of both. They all have their pros and cons. Be mindful that every action has a reaction, and the game is riddled with audio cues. You can hear distant gun fire, nearby enemies, rustles in the bushes, players treading through water, crows or injured horses triggered by nearby activity alerting nearby players of your whereabouts, hanging chains that are like wind chimes when touched, creaking boards, and so much more. Play with headphones and the experience is very immersive. To shake things up and to me make things a little more difficult, the time of day will vary between day and night. Daytime in a way for me is easy mode while at night can be very difficult.

Enemies range from your typical 'dumb' AI zombies, to aggressive hounds, to 'beehive' poisonous zombies, to large 'armored' zombies. They all seem quiet harmless, but each have a certain type of approach and vulnerability to exploit. Over time you learn multiple methods of killing them to rack up experience for leveling. Which brings up a potentially sore subject. If you are lucky enough to survive the match and escape all the clues, enemies, player kills, and boss kills, bounty retrievals amount to experience and cash, no loot. Die during a match and your hunter is lost forever - perma-death. For those fortunate enough to survive get their experience spent towards their bloodline level. Increasing your bloodline unlocks the ability to purchase consumables such as health packs and dynamite, new more powerful weapons, skills to increase hunter efficiency, and the ability to purchase better hunters. Some hunters that can be purchased will also have weapons that aren't even purchasable making them a very valuable asset.

Crytek has been very active during the Alpha and I assume will be even more so going into Early Access. The community has been very vocal on all aspects of the game and Crytek's response has been swift and, from what I can see, well-received. Max levels have been increased after every patch allowing for a continuous grind and the unlocking of a bigger arsenal to utilize. So far Hunt: Showdown is very promising for Alpha gameplay and can only get better with time and dedication. The only concern I have is keeping players evenly-matched. I couldn't necessarily tell if I was playing with or against others on the same bloodline or similar hunter build, but at times I felt outmatched. Either way, Hunt: Showdown is so intense I need a shower after each game.

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Transmitted: 10/25/2021 10:55:54 PM