Predator: Hunting Grounds – Sporadic Alien Thrills
When you think back to the movie Predator (you know, the only one that wasn’t forgettable) you realise that it was a film that only got better with time, maturing like a fine wine. It flipped a bunch of tropes and subverted expectations to moviegoers expecting Arnie and his muscle endowed buddies to mow down bad guys in the jungle. Instead, the heroes became the weak, scared and hunted victims of the Predator … a powerful and deadly alien hell-bent on hunting humans for sport!
Clearly designed to replicate the setting of this movie, Predator: Hunting grounds is a PVP / PVE multiplayer experience. Letting players choose between being the hunter or the hunted, you both compete against one another to try and achieve victory in a number of different methods. Competing against hundreds of other titles out there, how does this game stack up against them, is it worth your money and does the gameplay and content hold up? Let’s find out!
In the Jungle, the mighty Jungle …
After a quick tutorial, you start out by choosing to be one of four soldiers in the fireteam, or, the Predator. As a Predator, your goal is simplistic as straight forward, kill the entire fireteam before they complete all their objectives and escape on the chopper. The fireteam team’s objectives are a little less straight forward. You can either complete your primary objective and escape or kill the Predator and survive. The objectives differ randomly every match. Sometimes its destroying computer data or placing surveillance trackers on vehicles, in others it’s taking samples of drugs, analysing them and then taking out the drug lord himself. This is all in conjunction with a Predator constantly hunting you down or the AI soldiers trying to kill you at any given moment.
Hunting grounds allows you to customise your load-outs for both classes, letting you choose between a range of weapons and equipment to aid you in battle. These load-outs have an impact on gameplay and allow you to design your player in a way that best suits your preferred method of gaming. As you complete matches you’ll gain experience on your player as well as your chosen weapons, allowing you to unlock more perks and upgrades for your weaponry and equipment. Naturally, the more successful you are in each match, the faster you’ll unlock them. The game does have loot boxes, but as far as we could tell, this was for cosmetic items only.
In order to avoid the gameplay getting monotonous, the maps and objectives are changed with every match. The effect of this though seems quite minimal. Although you can clearly see the changes with every map, they all seem to play and feel the same. The objectives, whilst changing, usually involve you going to a point marked on the map, holding a button on the highlighted object, then moving into the next one. Whilst this can be nice in regards to consistency, once you’ve done one you’ve done them all and after a bunch of matches, you’ll just be going through the motions.
Dillion, you Son of a bitch!
It’s amazing how different each role is and how they each play out. As a fireteam, you naturally keep a close proximity to one another as you complete your primary objectives, all whilst keeping an eye out for the Predator who could be attacking at any given time. This keeps the match tense because the Predator is a force to be reckoned with and can take out one of your teams without too much effort! As the Predator though, it can feel like a race against time as you pick your moment to jump in, take the kill then run away before their buddies can shoot you, and doing so before they complete all their objectives. Although this is clearly reliant on the people playing the game, this stops the game from becoming stale too quickly, it could be over in minutes after starting the game, or it can go the full distance.
There are of course some very big criticisms though. Easily the most annoying is that in order to find out how to play properly, you’ll really need to go online and watch some YouTube videos, because the game’s tutorial is terrible. Apart from a quick instructional, showing you how to use the Predator on a basic level, you’ll have to go into the extra’s menu to find some written tips on how to do other things. Neither go into the depth of what you can and cannot do in this game and it can be incredibly frustrating when the games user interface isn’t exactly helping you out either. A perfect example of this is when the Predator sets off his self-destruct, it wasn’t until someone defused ours that we even knew you could do this, a quick Google later and we were more in the know.
Get to the Chopper!
The big issues with this title are that it feels unfinished and very thin in terms of content and gameplay. There’s no single-player or offline content to be found here, and when you see how ‘smart’ the AI Soldiers are and how they act as bullet sponges with questionable hitboxes. You’ll understand why. This leads us to believe that the game is still a work in progress, and although this potentially can mean that these issues will be smoothed out or changed in the future, from the copy that’s on the shelves right now, this is what you get.
Predator: Hunting grounds reminds us of multiplayer-only games that rely on player interaction to keep it fresh and fun. Dead by Daylight and Friday the 13th both spring to mind. In their own right, it’s a pretty fun romp but there’s just not a lot to it. As a game with friends, it can be a really fun blast, and even losing doesn’t feel too bad because you still gain a decent amount of XP! What it comes down though, is whether you think this is good enough value for money at its current price. From us, this would be a no. That being said, if you’re a fan or see this on a good sale, there is fun here to be had, just not a lot of it.
Predator: Hunting Grounds was reviewed on the PS4 with code kindly supplied by Playstation Australia