Crytek’s latest multiplayer shooter, Hunt Showdown, has finally hit Early Access on Steam. Here’s everything you need to know about it.
What is Hunt Showdown?
Hunt Showdown is a multiplayer, first-person shooter where you step into the shoes of a demon hunter operating in the Louisiana swamps, which are overrun with stray supernatural threats.
Each mission takes place on a sandboxed map and tasks you to hunt a big boss target. They can be taken on solo or with a teammate. Initially the hunts involve finding three clues using a special ‘Dark Sight’ ability that eventually reveals the boss’ location on the map. From there you head to your prey’s location and enter the fight.
What makes the game interesting is that Crytek has added a player-vs-player element to the mix. In each hunt there are up to five teams of human players tracking the same prey. As only one team can claim the prize, the competition comes as you have to be the first to collect the bounty and escape the map, or take out the competing human players and steal the prize.
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Hunt Showdown gameplay
In its current, very early form, Hunt Showdown is very much a work-in-progress, but it’s definitely got promise.
Hiring my first hunter and jumping into a solo mission I found this to be one of the most interesting and tense competitive shooters I’ve tested since PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, for a variety of reasons.
First off, the weaponry is outright archaic. The game’s historical cowboy-era setting means all the guns, knives, explosives and items at your disposal are pretty old-school, and ammo is extremely limited. My first hunter went up against the demon hordes with a slow-firing bolt-action rifle, six-shooter revolver and switchblade knife that didn’t seem to do anything but annoy larger demons.
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Secondly, there are a lot of monsters in each map and all of them do insane amounts of damage when they get up close – I’m talking three hits and you’re dead, even against a basic zombie. Unaware of this, I started off with a gung-ho attitude, activated my Dark Sight and raced directly towards the nearest glowing blue clue, which just so happened to be located in a creepy barn surrounded by monsters.
Confident in my fighting skills, I gleefully popped the heads off a couple of stray zombies in the adjacent field. This was my first mistake. Within moments of firing my gun I’d alerted pretty much every monster on the farm to my presence, and the hunter-prey dynamic got completely reversed. As it turns out, sound in Hunt is key, as all the monsters have supernaturally good hearing. If you step on broken glass with one around, or happen to accidentally rattle some chains while creeping through one of the map’s many derelict buildings, they’ll start looking for you.
When you have ammo this isn’t a huge problem, unless they appear en masse, but when you’re running on empty, as I was after my opening mistake, it really ramps the tension and gives Hunt a proper horror movie vibe.
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Progressing forward with nothing but my piddly pocket knife and whatever I could salvage for protection, I had no choice but to feebly hide or run when met with a monster. Even then, despite all my caution, I soon had my head blown off by a competing hunter when I finally made my way to the second clue and was unceremoniously dropped back to the menu screen.
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It was here that I was treated to the final, and key, reason why Hunt feels so tense: player deaths are permanent. In Hunt if you die your character’s bounty, weapons and items will all be lost. The only thing you retain is their experience, which feeds into your ‘Bloodline’. Improving your Bloodline level unlocks new purchasable weapons, items and hunter abilities. As an added perk you can also use the experience to improve a hired hunter’s attributes – though if they die the investment will be wasted, as you don’t get the points back.
Early on, the permadeath didn’t really register as a threat – after all, I hadn’t invested any time or effort into any of the characters I was controlling. But after I successfully completed my first bounty and invested some of my hard-earned bounty and experience in a hunter, it made the game PUBG-level tense. Turning every corner I was aware how easily my hunter could die and my investment could be lost. By the end every gunshot in the distance made me jump with fear.
This was particularly true in matches with other more experienced players, who’d fully embraced the player-vs-player elements and found ingenious ways to hunt humans, not monsters. Some experienced players stopped going directly to clues early on, and instead chose to camp in sniping positions around them, waiting for less experienced teams to wonder into their killzone.
Others waited for the main bounty to be slain, then rushed to the exit location on the map, taking out the slayers and stealing their bounty before they had a chance to escape. Neither option is honourable, but they’re definitely effective.
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Hunt Showdown patches
While the early gameplay is great, the game is still fairly limited. There are currently only four bounty missions, which all take place on the same map and see you hunt one of two bosses in either the night or daytime. After a week with the game I’m still finding the missions fun, but more variety would definitely be welcome. The same is true for the weapons, which all fall into basic melee, rifle, pistol and shotgun categories at the moment.
At a technical level it also needs some work. There’s currently no controller support, so unless you have a Steam Controller and time to program it, you’ll be stuck with a mouse and keyboard, which will be an annoyance for lounge gamers. Luckily controller support is in the works.
Load times are also abysmally slow. Getting into a game can take in excess of five minutes at the moment.
Hunt Showdown release date
Hunt launched onto Early Access on February 22. The company hasn’t given it a firm full release date.
Hunt Showdown price
You can grab Hunt Showdown on Steam Early Access for £26.
Hunt Showdown system requirements
|Intel i5 @ 2.7GHz (6th Generation) or AMD Ryzen 3 1200||Intel i5 @ 3.2 GHz (6th Generation) or AMD Ryzen 5 1400|
|8 GB RAM||12 GB RAM|
|Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 TI or AMD Radeon R9370||Nvidia GTX 970 4GB or AMD Radeon R9 390X|
|20GB storage||20GB storage|
|Broadband Internet connection||Broadband Internet connection|
|DirectX compatible audio card||DirectX compatible audio card|
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