Review: Predator Hunting Grounds
Predator Hunting Grounds, created by IllFonic and published by Sony for Playstation 4 and Windows PC is available now. The asymmetric multiplayer title in which we can once again dive into the Predator universe falls short on an interesting concept.
Predator Hunting Grounds is an asymmetric multiplayer game. What this means exactly is that you don't have a classic 12 vs 12 mode, but in this case a 1 vs 4 mode. Four players compete as soldiers against one player as Predator. This sounds really cool and the idea is very cool. Unfortunately for IllFonic's implementation of this idea, it doesn't work as well as it sounds.
But how does it work?
Every game you play you take it as one of the four soldiers, or as the Predator against the other. Every game you play is shaped like a mission. At least for the four soldiers. You will be placed in a jungle map and given various assignments to fulfill. There is some variation in this, but you actually do about the same every game. You travel about two to three locations in the jungle to complete assignments.
For example, a mission can consist of looking for a drug lab, taking photos as evidence and then setting the lab on fire. While it burns down you have to defend the place from enemy soldiers. These are very simple NPC soldiers that pose little threat to you. The next assignment during this mission might be to go to base and call in a helicopter from there to escape the game. The next mission you play may look completely different, but the setup will remain broadly the same.
The missions are not exciting, not difficult, but fine enough to serve as a common thread through every game for the four soldiers. The predator also has a mission, which consists only of killing the four soldiers. If these soldiers are all dead, the Predator wins. Will the Predator die, or will the four soldiers escape? Then the soldiers win. There is also a vague situation where only a few soldiers escape, or only one escapes, so that one person wins and the rest don't. What it seems is that the soldiers win if at least one person escapes.
The hunt is open
As soon as you play as Predator you will be placed in a different location in the jungle than the four soldiers. Your job is to track them down and kill them. You have an energy bar, heat sensors, invisibility cloak, a laser and all kinds of other gadgets to get the job done, but for a Predator you feel pretty weak. Logically, you don't knock everyone to the floor in one fell swoop, because that wouldn't be fair. Still, it doesn't feel quite right when you get close enough to eat your prey only to find out that you also do little damage up close and you are extremely vulnerable. It doesn't seem to work out best for the Predator in any form unless you're just really good. It's too easy for the soldiers to keep you at a distance,while up close they turn out to be just as dangerous.
The first thing to do is to find your four opponents. After all, you are a hunter. Still, this doesn't seem to be the easiest job, by coincidence or not, but I usually found the opponents within five minutes. Still, there have been several rounds where as a soldier I was never harassed by a Predator. This one wasn't AFK either, as the Predator did accumulate XP during the round. After all, they can also kill enemy NPCs for XP.
So it doesn't always feel well balanced. It also takes about 10 levels before you unlock your first extra gear at the Predator, while you're already on your own. That brings us straight to the next point: progress and unlocks.
You read it right. Play to win. Not Pay to Win. Let's assume this is an incredible win. Especially in these kinds of games that often tend to associate microtransactions with visual progress and extra content. Predator Hunting Grounds may not be a Free-to-Play title, but it hasn't stopped anyone in the past. By playing you level up, get currency and unlock new gear and cosmetics. Very nice and nice, and at the moment there is already enough cosmetics, but also upgrades for weapons for different classes. Especially considering the game that has just been on the market for a week, one cannot complain in this area. Not if we compare it to similar games anyway.
The unfortunate thing is that you have to invest a few hours first to be able to use more weapons, cosmetic adjustments and new gadgets. You start with the basics and that is enough to get you going, but someone who has already put 50 hours into the game will immediately have some advantage over a new player. It doesn't have to be a big advantage, but a choice of other equipment can be big enough to determine the deciding factor. In my view, somewhat strange choices have been made in this area. On the one hand a positive change from what we are used to, on the other hand a barrier that immediately hinders this quite extensive choice.
Predator Hunting Grounds is only a week old. You can already feel the mood. Multiplayer titles often struggle with performance in the first weeks or even months and in many cases limited variety. In both cases the same applies to this asymmetric multiplayer game. The variation in areas and missions is nil. Both each round look pretty much the same and the whole tone is set by the Predator's skill, not the mission structure or even the four players performing the mission.
Also, the game doesn't run very well. There's a certain amount of input lag that makes firing weapons and the Predator's laser feel uncomfortable. It's not a massive lag, but just enough to make it not smooth. Rubber banding is also a fairly common phenomenon and it sometimes takes a few minutes to find a lap. Regardless of whether you are looking for a role as Predator, Soldier or Random.
The game isn't ugly, but it isn't very beautiful either. The textures look fine from a distance, but as soon as you get close you see that they often have a low resolution. This is especially noticeable on trees and leaves that don't look very sharp.
Predator Hunting Grounds should have been in the oven for a while. The necessary polish is missing and some choices made during development don't seem to be very well thought out. The variation in gameplay is lacking, so this is not a game that you will play for hours on end. It might be an ailment of multiplayer games like this in an early stage, and certainly also with this game. Undoubtedly, this is still being worked on and the game will look very different in a few months, but at the moment it is difficult to recommend the game. We may give it another chance if IllFonic has taken the time to process all feedback.
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