Hunt Showdown PS4- Review
Bounty hunting fun for everybody
The PS4 edition of Crytek’s Hunt Showdown was a welcome addition to my collection in 2020. Hunt is a battle royale game that offered more than just PVP and race the circle, which is why I was willing to fork out for it. Therefore, I chose to make this my first review. Hunt Showdown retails at approximately £35, for the standard edition. Raising the question on a lot of people’s mind is that, is that worth it for an online only battle royale game that many are offering for free?
Story- Lore of the hunt
Being an online only game Hunt showdown only really carries a brief back story, of a viral outbreak in the Louisiana Bayou. The virus is causing humans and animals alike to mutate and go Feral. You the player are a bounty hunter and are given a vast array of 1800s style characters to choose from. Your mission is to gather your team of up to two more bounty hunters (friends or random online players) and race across the Bayou to hunt and eliminate some uniquely terrifying monsters. But you are not alone in this hunt, as several more teams will be hunting the same monster as you, as well as yourself. I personally love this whole element to the battle royal game style, and it makes for an extremely exciting game when you are hunting another group of players who have stolen the bounty.
There is a limited amount of written Lore available in Hunt Showdown, detailing the virus’s origins, how each creature and monsters came to be and much more. This lore is unlocked through a series of challenges relative to the monster you want to learn about. Reading the lore, makes for an interesting way to break up the tense game play and has some remarkably interesting aspects that I will not divulge into for the sake of spoilers.
Gameplay- Pass a good time
The Hunt Showdown is a First Person Shooter (FPS) with some very unique dynamics in console gaming. To begin with though there are two ways to play; bounty hunt, which is the main game hunting large monsters for money, or quick play. In both game modes of Hunt Showdown if your character dies it is gone permenantly from your collection, making survival the number 1 rule of Hunt.
Quick play is a spin on standard PVP game modes. In quick play you start with either a pistol, shotgun or melee weapon and have to gather anything else you may require from other weapons, to tools and health, as you attempt to survive the harsh monster ridden Bayou, hunt other players and recover 4 “wellsprings”. The game is won when you have either collected all 4 wellsprings and survived the timer or you are the last survivor standing. At the end of the match so long as you have survived, you are rewarded with the character you played as. Losers leave empty handed. Quickplay was an amazing way to play the hunt when playing alone it allowed me to hone my PVP skills and take the time to get a more in depth lay of the land. The games were incredibly challenging, and I’d find myself loosing more often than winning, but the pay-out is extremely worthwhile as you can leave with pre levelled characters for the real Hunt.
Bounty Hunt is the Main game style of Hunt Showdown. With this mode you must purchase your avatar with in-game currency or obtain free characters, which do not offer as much in the way of weapons and abilities. Fortunately, hunt does not charge for its main currency which is used to purchase bounty hunters, a wide variety of weapons and some very clever pieces of equipment. However Micro-transactions still exist inside the hunt for cosmetic purchases such as weapon and character skins. The main objective of the bounty hunt is to find clues scattered across the vast map for various targets, eliminate the target your clues have led you to, and escape with the proof off extermination ALIVE! This was an immediate selling point for me as I have always loved bounty hunter style games and the threat of other players also chasing my mark just adds to the thrill even more. When you are in the game you are given a few moments of preparation to asses the map from where you are spawned, and to decide how you will reach your first clue. There are many ways to reach your clues and ultimately your target, but I find the most effective way of reaching your mark is by playing the game stealthily. This is because the Hunt Showdown truly utilises the players sense of sound. When you are roaming across the map every bullet fired can be heard across the map, with what feels like pinpoint accuracy of where it came from. If you are near another player and snap a twig or disturb some birds that will be heard, or even if you are just sprinting the jangling of ammo and heavy boot steps can also be heard by those nearby. This adds a truly immersive experience, to Hunt showdown and I honestly love how tense the game can get when you hear enemies approaching as you try to ambush or flee. Players are not the only issue to worry about though in the Bounty hunt mode as Hordes of zombies monsters and other gruesome creatures roam the Bayou much like in the quick play, all acting as obstacle which can consume precious ammo and gear or even annihilate chunks of health. When players reach their mark, they are faced with what is essentially a boss monster. There are 3 unique boss monsters in the hunt, each with their own unique traits and abilities, for example the assassin who is possibly the hardest boss to defeat. The assassin is able to almost completely disappear and glide around its boss room with ease, making it a very hard target to hit. That combined with its ability to split into two separate targets and its hard-hitting attacks makes it a very tough foe to defeat through conventional means. These bosses are without a doubt the most exciting part of Hunt Showdown they offer a truly dynamic experience of fighting the boss whilst trying to keep yourself hidden from other players.
Once players have killed their bounty, it is time to claim your bounty and escape, but Hunt does not make this easy and makes for what is some of the tense online gameplay I have experienced. The tension begins the second you claim your bounty. Lightning strikes the mark and a storm begins over head giving away your location to every player still alive. You the player must then hold that position for around 2 minutes before you can finally claim what is yours and make your escape. When you pick up the bounty token your every move becomes visible to all enemy players allowing for ambushes or an epic chase through the bayou. You have to take your token to any of the many extraction points marked along the map and wait out the 30 second timer, all whilst staying alive in order to truly claim your bounty. Failure to do so will result in your character dying permanently, as such losing all affiliated weapons equipment and money used in the mission with them. That is the harsh reality of Hunt Showdown.
When fighting other players, you may find weapons in the Hunt a lot harder to use than in other FPS games. Most rifles are single fire or have a few shots with a slow bolt reload, bringing a more realistic approach to this now ancient armoury the hunt gives us. But that is not the only difference in Hunt’s combat system to other FPS games. The weapons also have to be manually reloaded and if you do that with ammo still in the gun be prepared to lose round permanently without specific perks, as ammo is extremely scarce.
Everything about Hunt showdowns gameplay leads to an incredible experience which I have failed to find in similar styled games, everything about it is almost perfect. I say almost because Hunt still has a lot of kinks in the system that need to be ironed out due to their frequent occurrences. Some of these problems that plague hunt include control issues where your character has incredibly still movement even at the highest sensitivity. Or the failure of graphics to render across the entire map allowing you or other players to become extremely easy shots.
Audio- Rise Up
Hunt Showdowns Audio is without a shadow of a doubt its strongest aspect. From the use of its haunting soundtrack by Port Sulphur Band, right the way through to how every action has a consequential sound.
The soundtrack as previously mentioned was recorded by Port Sulphur Band, who done a fantastic job of capturing the tense and deadly atmosphere the game gives off. The low hums and death march beat only adds to the games overall experience. As the soundtrack only plays in the main menus it really does make you feel like you are going into a dangerous game.
Hunt Showdown’s use of audio in game is also incredible. As I mentioned whilst explaining the gameplay every action has a consequential sound and I really do mean consequential, as no sound heard is by mistake. During my most recent bounty hunt I was drawing close to the bounty; I heard a murder of crows being scared from behind me. This sound meant players were close by and allowed me and my team to set up an ambush and take them out before claiming the bounty as our own. Players are not the only thing that can interact with the environment though, as non-player enemies can also pick up on your sounds such as gun shots or trading on broken glass and charge over to you when you least expect it.
For me, the audio is an absolute winner in Hunt Showdown and offered an incredible new angle to FPS games making for a more tactical and stealthy play style.
Graphics- Beautiful Cher
The hunt showdown offers 2 incredibly beautiful maps both available to play at several time periods, day, dusk and night. Both maps offer beautiful scenery, spectacularly detailed buildings and gruesomely lifelike “wildlife”. Each of the time periods also offers a unique appearance to both maps. During the day you can bask in the incredibly detailed Bayou taking in all of your surroundings as far as the horizon can go, broken up by tree lines and amazing shadowing. At dusk, the lighting of the Bayou is much harsher and can be opportune for snipers, allowing them to hide in plain sight, with the harsh Louisiana sunlight beaming down. During the night though is where the hunt truly gets interesting graphically. The dark textures and great shadowing make for a truly stealth based game. If you fumble about in the bayous dark forestry, you can bump into some unwanted surprises, but fortunately you can give your character a torch, which also comes with the small cost of becoming much more visible to other players. Although torches can be seen from miles around they can also be of great benefit to players as much like the flares and flash bombs available to equip you can use them to truly dazzle your enemies at a close range. Overall the hunts graphics play perfectly alongside every other aspect of the hunt, allowing it to be the serious and dark game it intends to be.
Summary- Keep Improving
Hunt Showdown truly is an incredible gam, but it isn’t without its flaws. I am sure over time Crytek will fix most of these issues though, allowing it to truly be one of the most immersive online games available. The way the harsh gameplay, the crisp and accurate audio and the beautiful graphics all work together in what would seem like perfect unison makes the Hunt Showdown an incredible game. However, this game is not perfect, not yet. There is still a lot of issues surrounding Hunt which puts players like myself off playing the game regularly. And as a result I am going to have to score Hunt Showdown a 7/10 with the hopes that over the coming few months I can come back to this game and re-review this game with a much higher score. As for if this this game worth buying over the many free options? It is. Hunt offers far more in the way of challenges and graphics to all its competitors and is at its best times an amazingly immersive game.