Graphically stunning, Hunt: Showdown is an exhilarating survival horror experience, marred by unavoidable campers.
- Developer: Crytek
- Publisher:Koch media
- Genre: FPS Survival Horror
- Release Date: 18/02/20
- Platforms: Xbox, PC and PS4
- Reviewed on: Xbox One X
- Game Supplied by: Koch media
Hunt: Showdown is an atmospheric survival horror in a Western setting, played from a first-person perspective. It’s creepy, sneaky and makes you put it all on the line, usually things I am not drawn to in a game. I could not tell you how many times I have screamed at mobs popping up behind me.
Hunt: Showdown sees you take control of a bounty hunter tasked with hunting down monsters in the plagued Louisiana swamps, starting by recruiting a hunter and outfitting them with your chosen equipment. Matches are played either alone or with up to two fellow bounty hunters. You will commence by tracking down clues to the location of the monsters that spawn on the map you end up on. That sounds simple enough, but the landscape is atmospheric and filled with Mobs that at the slightest sound will do their best to send you to the grave.
As if that wasn’t enough, you have other players looking for the same clues and monsters that you are. Consequently, you need to stay quiet and hidden. Alerting dogs, birds, or even mobs can be the difference between life and death.
The pain of death doesn’t just mean a quick rematch either, Hunters are subject to permadeath, including losing all of your equipment. Once your body hits the floor, that is the end of the line for that character, and your equipment becomes loot for other players to take.
This is where Hunt: Showdown hooks you. Even if you are not an avid horror fan, you will feel compelled to venture into the swamps over and over. The high-risk, high reward situations make every moment in Hunt: Showdown exhilarating, knowing that every time you cross paths with another player, one of you will be walking away with the other’s loot and putting an end to their career.
The Hunt is merciless, albeit you do have a safe period at the start. Up until your bloodline level hits 11, you and your loot are safe and will not be lost.
The leveling in Hunt: Showdown is fairly unique, with your profile level portrayed as a bloodline level. This is what dictates the equipment you can purchase and equip to your hunters, and it also slowly unlocks passive perks for your hunters. This is where your hunters’ levels come into play, as in order for the perks to be unlocked you need to level up your hunters to earn enough upgrade points.
Adding a further layer to the upgrades system is the fact that while a high-level hunter can have a wicked perk set, you can also choose to retire them for a huge amount of XP. This involves making a decision between continuing your characters progression albeit with the risk of losing everything in one bad match or choosing to sacrifice the life of your beloved high-level hunter in favour of being able to better equip your future hunters.
The world of Hunt: Showdown has quickly become one of my favourite places, owing to its amazing design, despite the fact it makes me come close to soiling myself on a regular basis. The atmosphere and tension it creates sucks you in and immerses you, with every cracking twig or rustling leaves placed so purposefully.
The general atmosphere is a strange combination of emptiness and desertion, overshadowed with the constant knowledge that you are almost never alone. Danger lurks around every corner, you are never safe until you are out of the game.
The Monsters are equally noteworthy; all of the Mobs have distinct looks and behaviours, and the three currently released targets are vastly different. When you think about similar games such as Evolve, which had different bosses that were only vaguely different to each other, you could be forgiven for assuming that once you have seen one monster, you’ve seen them all. In the Hunt: Showdown, each of these monsters is unique, from their behaviour to their appearance and movement. The Butcher is a hulking beast that will set you and everything around you ablaze, given half a chance. He’s not shy and will take you down in just a few hits. Even in the face of your best offence, it’s unlikely you will see him run.
The Assassin, as his name might suggest, is on the stealthier side, his slender frame disappearing into shadows if he feels he is in trouble, opting for a hit and run style over The Butchers brutish manner.
Lastly, the spider. This literal eight-legged freak dashes around up walls, on the ceiling, anywhere it can scuttle to. Despite my experience of it being the easiest to take down, it does not lack in uniqueness, opting to use every surface to get close and launch a poisonous area effect gas. It’s a long and slow death to be taken down by the spider.
So what happens if you manage to evade other players and the treacherous lands of the hunt? Well, you are still not out of the woods. You now need to banish the monster – this takes time and all you can do is defend your position. If you make it through the banishing and defeat the monster without getting taken out by other players you can now pick up a token from the monster. There are only 2 tokens available, so if you are with friends you can snag both.
Beware, as when you do grab one you are now a target: You can be seen on the map by other players and tracked down. It’s not all bad as you now have an enhanced vision ability that allows you to look around and see other players if they are within sighting range. This ability only has a limited number of uses, so be resourceful and pick your moments, and then start running for an extraction point. Once you reach an extraction point you will have to hold your position for 30 seconds before you are finally safe and can get away with your spoils.
That is the basic premise of Hunt’s gameplay cycle. Once out, you are rewarded with experience points, hunt coins and blood bonds. Hunt coins are used to buy equipment, and blood bonds can be used to unlock legendary hunters and legendary weapon variants.
Though an extremely fun and enthralling game, it is not without its flaws, the main one being camping. Quite frequently you will have players who will camp in one or two places, either by the monster’s location or by extraction points so that they can take you out after you have done the hard work. It’s extremely frustrating but unfortunately unavoidable. Camping is a cheap tactic but one that exists nonetheless, and the best thing to do is make good use of your ability after picking up the bonds.
Graphically, Hunt: Showdown is a marvel, it’s genuinely stunning. Despite its muted colour palette, the world is surprisingly pretty. Everything in it is extremely detailed and feels like it has had hours of passionate work poured into every part of it.
The Hunt: Showdown creates an amazingly detailed world full of atmosphere and tension, and the sheer amount of variety in the situations you end up in is staggering. Winning in the Hunt: Showdown feels like a genuine achievement. Rarely have I felt the same kind of satisfaction when making away with someone else’s loot.