Hunt: Showdown is Survival of the Fittest Against Both Man and Beast

By Marc Caccamise,
Hunt: Showdown has had a long journey since Crytek first debuted it over three years ago. Originally known as Hunt: Horrors of the Gilded Age, the four-player co-op monster hunter never came to fruition and instead seemed like a potentially lost project amidst the financial issues that were taking place at the studio. However, beginning in 2016, development set forth on a new vision for the game and it's safe to say that its current state looks far different than the original product. Frankly, it may have been one of the best showings of E3 entirely.

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Set in the late 19th century Victorian era, one aspect that has remained the same about Hunt in particular is that it's still a monster hunter... except this time, most of your fellow players are not your allies. Rather than being fully co-operative, the game has moved in the opposite direction in favor of a 10-player PvP format. Every match pits five teams of two against one another with the goal of finding the targeted demon, killing and banishing it, and then escaping with the bounty. The developers described wanting to create a vibe where players constantly felt like they were always surrounded by 360 degrees of danger. Based on the short preview of the game, that feeling seems to always be palpable.

Every match begins with the teams spawning on the very edge of the map, with anywhere between one and three demons to kill and collect the bounty. Players will never actually know how many other teams are in the match and therefore cannot plan accordingly. With this unknown variable in play, players must weigh their options with a risk versus reward mindset because any slip up in strategy could mean the end of their character. Hunt has a permadeath feature, which means that all weapons, equipment, and special abilities are lost whenever your hunter is killed in a match. Your XP will remain in the bloodline for your next hunter to use, but it's still a massive loss to lose everything you've worked hard to earn.

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This need to play strategically was the centerpiece of the pre-recorded match that was shown off at Crytek's booth. The setting was a dark and murky swamp, which also demonstrated the significance of lighting and darkness and how to use it in your favor. The team of hunters we followed were moving through complete darkness with only the beautiful shining of moonlight in the distance to light their path. Up ahead, two teams suddenly began to exchange gunfire, highlighted by their guns' bright muzzle flashes that pierced through the darkness. Rather than engage in the gunfight, our team stuck to the cover of darkness and kept moving towards their objective, a completely legitimate, and perhaps necessary, strategy.

Other teams of hunters are not your only threat, nor are the main targeted demons. Scattered throughout the map are lower level creatures, like zombies and other mutations, that constantly present a significant threat. Shortly after avoiding the first confrontation, our team encountered a small group of zombies. Deciding that they were far enough away from other teams, one of the hunters lit up the area with a flare, and the two dispatched the small group. The two immediately left the area afterwards, because the flare was as good as a beacon to other teams of their location. Your actions during the game will remain present for quite some time, whether it's the lasting glow of a flare or the last remnants of a fire from a thrown Molotov. The way you impact your surroundings will not just immediately vanish the moment you leave that area.

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In order to find your bounty in every match, players must find demon portals that provide a first-person view from the monster's perspective to offer clues of their whereabouts. After finding a third portal, the actual location of the bounty will be marked on the map. In the match we watched, the monster turned out to be a spine-chilling, enormous tarantula that quickly scurried between floors of an old barn when the team spotted it. While it didn't seem to require much damage to take down, it also downed one of the two players beforehand relatively easily, emphasizing how fragile the life of your character can be and how carefully you need to handle each scenario.

After killing your target, you must then banish it back to hell in order to receive the bounty. When you begin the process, your location is shown on the map to every other remaining team, meaning you are very vulnerable to both their attacks and the other incoming monsters. In the grand scheme of concocting your strategy, this also means that a team could purposefully not seek out the demon portals and just wait for another team to do the work for them. Of course that won't always work and didn't work in the case of the demo, as our team managed to defend their position and escape the immediate area with the bounty.

Everything we saw of Hunt: Showdown's gameplay was still in a pre-alpha stage, so it's hard to know exactly how it will all shake out going forward. However, the new direction for the game is a much more positive one than we saw years ago, and it looks like it could be a strong addition to the multiplayer survival horror genre. While the game is coming to PC first, there are plans to release it to consoles after the initial launch.
Marc Caccamise
Written by Marc Caccamise
Writer of news, features, and reviews for TrueAchievements since June 2013. Discovered the incredible world of video games at a young age with Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf, and haven't looked back since. Outside of gaming, I'm usually found reading up on various history topics or rooting for the lowly Buffalo Bills and Sabres.