A western first-person shooter mixed with supernatural elements and a somewhat battle-royal nature. These are the ingredients that make up Hunt: Showdown, but do they make for a good title?
Hunt: Showdown is brought to us by Crytek, the team behind the original Far Cry and the PC-straining Crysis series. However, this one plays quite differently to those previous releases. Rather than the near future or hidden islands, this time we’re based in the late 1800s/early 1900s in what could be described as a Leatherface wet dream.
You and up to two others play together at hunting down your target, with other players trying to do the same. So, not only will you be fighting against the game, but other players are going after the same bounty.
Insect infected swamps, dusty isolated roads and farms/slaughterhouses filled with bodies of animals and people – these all await you in the world of Hunt: Showdown. You’re a bounty hunter tasked with tracking down a powerful supernatural target (a giant spider for example), and not only taking them out, but also cleansing their bodies and taking a piece of them for your bounty AND THEN escaping the area with the loot. The trick is, you’ll spawn in a large map with no knowledge of where your target is, and you’ll need to search for clues, using a system similar to the detective vision from the Batman Arkham series, or the tracking mode from Days Gone. If you’re playing as a group, you’ll spawn together, but other players will spawn randomly on the map and be hunting the same monster.
You’ll also need to be wary of other enemies in the area, as there’s more to this than one supernatural target. The world of Hunt: Showdown is full of what can only be described as zombies, and what appear to be grotesque abominations. Thankfully, these are somewhat traditional zombies that are relatively slow, and quite stupid. You’ll be able to sneak past them, but they’re also attracted to noise, so you’ll need to be careful of what you’re doing or what you’re near. If you walk past a flock of crows and cause them to fly off, zombies will notice the noise and go and check it out (this will also alert players too, so be careful). In slaughter houses there are hanging meat hooks and chains, and walking through these will also cause noise. These elements – and the fact that there’s no background music during gameplay – make searching for clues constantly tense.
Upon starting you’ll pick one of two hunters, each with their own starting weapons and buffs. You’ll generally start with a rifle, a pistol and a knife, as well as some support items like medkits, lamps and throwable items. As you play through rounds, you’ll unlock more weapons and further upgrade your character, but if you die during the hunt, its game over! Yes, much like Fortnite, if you die then you’ll need to start all over again. You can recruit hunters to play as before missions, so if you don’t want to risk your favourite hunter then you can play as your noob hunter. You can also decide on your game style in Hunt: Showdown – be either a Gunslinger or Hunter. Gunslingers are obviously more proficient with firearms and can aim down sights, while hunters are quieter, but can only fire guns while actively aiming.
The world, sound design, hunting and attention to detail in Hunt: Showdown is fantastic; however, the combat is a little unpolished. Taking out the roaming zombies in the world is fine, but when we reached our first target – a giant spider – movements were erratic, and a bit of clipping appeared. We couldn’t line up a shot, so throwing Molotov cocktails worked best.
Outside of the combat, moving between farms to slaughterhouses to fishing villages is a bit bland. The sound design helps fill this gap, while the handful of zombies that you find in these areas makes up for it, but it still feels a bit bare – like no one previously lived in this world. In one round we went up against The Butcher, and sadly we only won that round by cheesing (basically cheating) the monster. The bounty is coded into a house and won’t exit the building, so players can walk in, make some shots and run out without taking any damage (some monsters deal LOADS of damage).
If you’re looking at picking up Hunt: Showdown for a story or a single player aspect, this isn’t the title for you as it’s multiplayer/online only. However, just like Zombie Army 4: Dead War, if you’ve got a friend or two interested in changing things up, Hunt: Showdown provides some refreshing and frightening entertainment.
Hunt: Showdown is available now on PS4 and Xbox One.