There’s value to the saying that quality trumps quantity, but when it comes to videogames, multiplayer in particular, there’s always a chance that the latter will outweigh the former, and as the early build of Predator: Hunting Grounds that was shown at Brazil Game Show 2019 proved, being a grunt isn’t always a bad deal, even when dealing with an alien assassin bent on taking out anyone on its path.
Based on the hit 1980s Joe McTiernan muscle-bound classic starred by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers and Jesse “The Body” Ventura, Predator: Hunting Grounds is an asymmetrical adversarial multiplayer game that puts a team of mercenaries with a mission in the jungles up against the ultimate Hollywood blockbuster badass, the Predator. Four players control a unit of soldiers tasked with completing a number of objectives tied to sabotaging the local militia while a sole human-controlled hunter stalks and eliminates the opposition.
Although still relatively early on in development, the demo that is playable this week at BGS proved that the concept works extremely well in game form, and like their previous hit, Friday the 13th: The Game, IllFonic proved that they certainly know how to make an exciting multiplayer experience that differs from the deathmatch norm by providing entirely different gameplay depending on who you play as. For my demo, I was one of the mercs, while friend of Entertainium, Leo Faria from WayTooManyGames, controlled the Predator. My team managed to score a surprising win in the end, but not before suffering a bunch of losses.
A match in Predator: Hunting Grounds for the soldiers starts out much like a generic military shooter would, with loading screens sporting your objectives and such, and giving you the option to choose which class you want to play as. The demo already had that dealt to us, with my station being a standard soldier with a rifle, some healing syringes and of course, a freaking huge machete. We could’ve all played it cool and do the whole stealth thing while approach makeshift enemy base, but bullets didn’t take long to start flying, and in that regard, this new Predator game certainly plays serviceably, with AI-controlled characters doing their role of cannon fodder, but also dishing some pain of their own.
The objectives laid out were pretty simple, basically pressing buttons and standing around next to machines while they operate and point you towards the next point. This being the game that it is, I was on my toes the entire time playing, since I had no idea when the Predator would be popping up. Technically I have no idea when exactly he can start going after people during the match, but in ours it took a while before he came by, although I was sure I saw his trademark laser aim primed on a tree or two along the way. Still, my group managed to get a fair bit of the mission done before the slaughter began, with a straggler getting taken out, who had to sit by while the others made their way to the next marker.
Things got uglier the closer we got to the end objective, the extraction, where the guy playing next to me got popped off and so did I, but not before getting in a few shots of my own on the Predator. His movement is as expected if you’ve ever watched the original movie, with the same kind of telltale shimmer that he’s creeping about in optical camo, a really neat effect that’s perfectly emulated in-game. Apparently the Predator can’t heal himself, and after the sole survivor made it to the objective marker on the way to the extraction point, the rest of the team got revived, and during my last bout with our would-be killer, I managed to off him, clearing the way to calling in our evac.
I’m cautiously optimistic about how Predator: Hunting Grounds is shaping up. The concept of having online matches like this is certainly enticing, but I’m worried about how much replayability the game is going to have in the long run, considering how badly other mutiplayer titles like this have fared in the past. Still, as a game that has such a tight tie to a fan-favorite movie like The Predator, it’s surprisingly competent in evoking the feel of the first film, down to the musical theme and cheesy rock that blares from the helicopter’s stereo during the intro fly-by into the jungle.
Visually, there’s nothing really outstanding about the game, but considering its current early stage in development, I wouldn’t be shocked to see it upped and polished by the time the game is out. Currently, there really isn’t much in the way of dramatic lighting or atmospheric elements to the jungle, which will surely help build up the tension in the final version.
Predator: Hunting Grounds will be out sometime in 2020 exclusively for the PlayStation 4 and I’ll be sure to check it out then to see how it turns out.