June 20, 2017 by Paul Curtin
Hunt: Showdown was first announced two years ago under the name Hunt: Horrors of the Gilded Age. At E3 2014, Crytek gave a preview of the game which featured 4-player co-op similar to the Left 4 Dead series. Since then, we haven’t heard much good news from the German developer and most stories have been covering the studio’s financial issues that could likely result in Hunt’s cancellation.
Thankfully, Crytek isn’t done just yet, and the developer known for producing some of the most beautiful and graphically-demanding games is back with the return of another visually-stunning shooter. But unlike the 4-player co-op build that was teased a couple years ago, Hunt is now using a PvPvE survival matchmaking system. Instead of 4 players hunting a single NPC boss, gameplay now involves 5 teams of 2 players who are all hunting the same monster target with no respawns and character permadeath.
In order to find said target, players must uncover three sets of clues that will lead them straight to the boss. Still set in the 1800s, the murky swamp map we were shown in our hands-off demo looked phenomenal. The match took place at night, but there was a level of detail in the darkness that we’ve never seen in another game. The swamp was pitch black, but like in real life, silhouettes of objects created by the glaring moonlight could still be seen in vivid detail.
After uncovering clues scattered throughout the map and avoiding mobs of zombies to not give away their position, the team of two located a giant spider boss hanging inside the top of a barn à la Arachnophobia. Once the creepy human-sized spider was discovered, it sporadically crawled away on ceilings and in and out of windows, attacking the players in a battle reminiscent of one of Resident Evil 7’s best bosses. The frantic pacing of the spider encounter was unnerving, however, the actual boss fight was over in less than minute.
Crytek’s devs explained that the reasoning behind the short boss encounter was because killing the boss is only part of the objective. Players would then still need to banish the monster and then escape the map with the rewards. Once the banishing process is started, other teams are made aware and are able to hunt down the hunters, making the gameplay even more chaotic like extractions in The Division and narrow escapes in Friday the 13th.
What really makes every encounter so chaotic is Hunt‘s permadeath system. Players will have to weigh the risk/reward of every NPC, boss, and player encounter when everything they have is on the line every time. Crytek did tease a bloodline system that would allow players to not lose all of their progress upon death, but they didn’t go into more details than that.
The amazing preview of Hunt: Showdown that we saw at E3 wasn’t playable and actually wasn’t even played by a person in the room. Considering all the financial problems Crytek has been having as of late, the “pre-alpha” build we were shown almost seemed more like a tech demo that the developers were using to hype up the concept.
With how much time Hunt has been in development, we hope that’s not the case. But as of yet, Crytek is unwilling to talk about any sort of release window for the game with plans of launching on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.