Predator: Hunting Grounds is a 4v1 multiplayer shooter which pits a fireteam of 4 elite soldiers against the deadliest predator known to man. As the Predator, your goal is to hunt down and eliminate each player, claiming what’s left of them as a trophy. As the fireteam, you must work together to complete objectives whilst avoiding, or neutralising this creature that stalks you. Hunting Grounds attempts to recreate the style of 2015’s Evolve, allowing the prey to fight back, rather than just trying to escape as you would in Dead by Daylight or Friday the 13th. However this game is bare bones at best, not even coming close to the detail that was put into Evolve.
Playing as one of the soldiers feels just like any other First Person Shooter, with the noticeable exception that the guns feel much heavier, making aiming feel stiff, even when the sensitivity is turned way up. However, after getting used to this, playing as a member of the fireteam can actually be quite a fun experience. You always have to make sure to watch your back, whilst taking down any AI that come up against you. And once guns start to fire, you can be sure that a certain cloaked killer is on his, or her way. As the Predator gets near, it starts to make that clicking sound, which has never ceased putting me on edge. It suddenly turns the standard FPS gameplay into a fight for your life! Now, it becomes imperative to actively keep watch and listen out for any little sound that could give away the position of the Predator. It is also vital to stay together, because once separated, the camouflaged assailant has an easy target to destroy. Facing this horrifying beast from another planet, is the most tense, and most exciting part of this game. There is no certainty from which direction the creature will come. And by the time you see it, it is often too late.
Playing as the terrifying Predator, is a completely different experience, one in which you have the upper hand. Finding humans to vanquish is simple, through the use of heat vision and a scanner, however, killing the humans, that presents its own kind of challenge. Whilst the Predator is stronger, faster, bigger and more resourceful than the soldiers, it would still not be wise to run head first into the fireteam, because even though individually they are weaker, they can still punish you for being too hasty. The best option is to observe your prey, and then divide and conquer! The Predator has the ability to sprint through the trees and leap from branch to branch with ease, making traversing the map a much simpler task, and making it a much greater threat, however it was here, that some of the games flaws really came to light.
It was whilst doing parkour with the Predator, or Predkour as the game calls it, where I experienced some of the worst FPS lag and glitches that this game had to offer. Hunting Grounds does not feel like it was optimised at all for PS4 (which was the version I played). FPS lags and slowdowns were a repetitive nuisance, textures took a while to load in, and the graphics overall looked a little dated. This title in its current form seems to be riddled with these performance issues, at one point the Predator was jumping around very weirdly as I attempted to continue traversing through the trees. When Hunting Grounds runs properly, it can be a great experience, but when it doesn’t, it just creates frustration for everyone.
And talking about frustration, how about those servers?! Most people have experienced matchmaking times of longer than 10 minutes!! I was fortunate find a match in about 6 mins, but that was just to get into the lobby! Once in the lobby, again there would be more waiting, but this time for other players to join. I spent a good amount of time waiting to join a lobby or waiting for others to join a lobby I was already in. The worst part is, the game often launches when there aren’t enough players in the fireteam, so there have been a few occasions where I have been put into a 1v1 or a 2v1 with the Predator, and I’m sure that you already know how that turned out. This is definitely not the start Illfonic would have been hoping for.
On a better note, the sound design in this game is phenomenal. The way the Predator clicks and roars sticks true to the films. The different chimes and wirrs of the Predator’s technology also just help add to the atmosphere. Especially that Plasmacaster! Every time I heard it start charging, I knew it was time to run because that thing is deadly! It is through the sound and the music that the developers have managed to balance out the game as it is through the sound and music that players can best determine if the Predator is near. Once it starts to come closer, players start to hear those iconic clicks as well as faint roars on occasion. If the Predator starts to sprint, each step it takes sends a thunderous vibration through the ground which can be heard by anyone nearby.
Predator: Hunting Grounds is definitely an enjoyable game, if you can get into a full lobby or play with friends. This game is at its best when you jump into a private match and play with four friends, instead of waiting around, hoping to get into a game. So should you play this game? Maybe not just yet. If you haven’t got the game already, I would suggest waiting until the devs have sorted out these issues, or for when it goes on sale for a good discounted price. Let’s just hope that the Illfonic gets these issues fixed ASAP and give the world’s most terrifying predator the game that it deserves!
Review by Samuel Incze
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