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Hunt: Showdown Preview – “Swamp Exorcism”

The worldwide success of the Crysis series of games seemed to have secured a cloudless future for Crytek. After all, they subsequently founded several offices around the world, ranging from Kiev and Sofia, ending with Shanghai and Seoul, but after that something went wrong.

A series of unpleasant events and serious restructuring almost brought the developers of Ryse: Son of Rome and Crysis to bankruptcy. And now, except for the popular online shooter Warface and the license for the game engine “CryEngine”, the developers have almost nothing. However, now everything has changed, because the crytek studio introduced a cooperative shooter called Hunt: Showdown to the general gaming public, which recently reached the “Early Access” on Steam.

Curiously, this project was originally conceived as a spiritual successor to the Darksiders series of games. The game was first developed within the walls of THQ by a team from Vigil Games. And initially the game was supposed to be called “Hunt: Horrors of the Gilded Age”. For good or worse, the publisher eventually went bankrupt, so most of the team found shelter in the American team of Crytek.

Needless to say, no one threw the Hunt: Showdown project in the trash can. Despite the fact that now multiplayer shooters are really a dime a dime a week, it is difficult to find something really worthwhile, because they are all almost identical to each other. But Hunt: Showdown from Crytek is something that can really quench your thirst for something new, atmospheric and unusual in the future. And even if we are talking about a multiplayer shooter now.

Centuries-old history


“It’s so dark at night that if you gouge out your eyes, nothing will change.”

First of all, it’s great that the main plot presentation has not changed much, because in the game Hunt: Showdown there is now an attractive lore. The game world is written with seriousness, even if the game does not have a storyline as such. Nevertheless, it is there, but more transparent. A player who plays Hunt: Showdown for the first time may not notice this, but the lore and plot are present.

According to the developers from Crytek in America at the end of the XIX century, the secret Hunters Association worked. And we’re not talking about a bunch of animal shooters. This is just a cover for what the brave hunters were really doing. According to the plot idea and the lore of Hunt: Showdown, they were real fighters against demons.

And it is curious that hunters have been operating for more than one hundred centuries. So, for example, in Hunt: Showdown, the official website says that there were secret organizations that operated at one time or another. The first hunters were followers of Jesus Christ shortly before he was crucified. True, over the past hundreds of years, the initial interpretation of its rules has changed, so now each group of hunters acts in accordance with its own “rules”.

“Giant leeches will obviously bother more than dogs, but unfortunately they are not in the game yet.”

However, they all have the same principle of operation: they all divide into groups and go to remote corners of the country to hunt and kill the most terrible creatures from the other world. First of all, they do this in order to protect and defend ordinary innocent people, because demonic influence drives people crazy and ultimately makes them the most bloodthirsty monsters. And all these converted people wander around the neighborhood, protecting their demons.

But Hunt: Showdown players are presented with one of these “cells”, which also belongs to the Hunters Association, engaged in their professional activities in the territory of Louisiana. More precisely, in its swamps. According to some experienced hunters, it is here that Beelzebub is the strongest, he is also better known as Baal, the closest follower of the Devil. And since Baal is also known as the “Lord of the Flies”, perhaps for this reason he settled among the endless swamps, where insects live most of all.

“In Hunt: Showdown, there’s a huge difference between night and day modes. For example, at night it is much more difficult to shoot accurately, as it should be. In addition, at night it is easier to notice other hunters in the event of shooting.”


Gameplay


Although the storyline and lore haven’t changed much, the gameplay has been overhauled. In Hunt: Showdown, everything is strictly sharpened for multiplayer, so all game mechanics are built around the competition of hunters, who in the XIX have already gone far from the usual image of altruistic fighters against evil spirits. Therefore, now someone is engaged in hunting for money, someone in the hope of experiencing “thrills”, and someone wants to simply comprehend the secrets of the dark side of the world.

“Hunters in the game differ not only in equipment, but also in the amount of health. For every part of the lost health, you need to spend a first-aid kit. “

The gameplay is divided into matches. In each of these matches, five teams take part, which in turn are divided into 2 people. Each team has one single goal – to find the demon, finish him off, exorcise the demon to another world, take the trophy and get with this trophy to the conditional point of evacuation. And absolutely at any stage of the game there is a high probability that someone will get a bullet in the forehead or a knife in the back from demon hunters like you.

The game in Steam’s Early Access was always on the same map, but it’s a huge map, with a bunch of different locations and a lot of room for maneuver. The scenery in Hunt: Showdown is always the same, because you need to match the setting, but the location of objects is always new. And this applies not only to various kinds of ammunition such as first aid kits, cartridges and equipment, but also to “evidence” that helps to find the main demon on the map. In addition, absolutely all monsters are also generated on the map completely randomly.

“The higher the player’s profile level, the more items will be available for purchase.”

At the moment, there are not so many Bosses in the game, but for that there are enough secondary enemies, like the usual zombies, hellish hounds, decapitated giants, monsters in wax armor and walking corpses, inside of which there are beehives. It’s just strange why there were no giant leeches from the alpha version. But as for the Bosses, there are only two of them so far. The first is the Butcher. The second is the huge Spider. The first is a typical fat, huge man with a pig’s head and two hatchets in his hands. The second is just a huge poisonous spider that can move along the walls and ceiling.

“This is what the regime looks like, thanks to which you can search for evidence.”

And unlike PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, however, as well as from other games in the now popular genre of “Battle Royale”, Hunt: Showdown tries to treat its gloomy setting with the utmost care, so for all its supernatural mysticism it always tries to maintain sound realism. So for now, the game sticks to demon hunting. Therefore, so far there are no loot boxes with new “fashionable” clothes and therefore there are no counters of live players. Even on the map, the weapon will not “spawn” in any way, since it will have to be equipped before each new game.


The season of hunting for demons is open!


“But the monsters in the game are really unpleasant. And the scarier they look, the more dangerous they are.”

And yet the most important feature of Hunt: Showdown is hunting, the course of absolutely every single game. After players appear in completely random corners of the map, the stage of searching for evidence begins. Evidence is a certain gap between the worlds, which help to determine the exact location of the main demon (Boss). Each hunter is able to feel such special places: at any time you can press the appropriate key and see the outline of the silhouette of the evidence.

The first two “holes” found between the worlds narrow the search area, that is, half of the map becomes gray and this already suggests that this part of the map can be left alone. The third clue shows the exact location where the monster is located. The only problem is that the first skirmishes will start happening long before this Boss is found. After all, hunters can always come to the same clue, or just banally cross paths on some terrain. Although you can even stumble upon the Boss by accident, so here you are lucky.

“A successfully completed match can raise the level of the hunter immediately to level 12 and will raise a lot of money, but remember that fortune is changeable and sooner or later he will still go to another world.”

But no one forbids to act otherwise, for example, to arrange ambushes and wait for the moment when other hunters will find a few clues. And even if you find the Boss, there can still be huge problems – shots are heard throughout the district (in general, the sounds in the game are just gorgeous, but more on that below). Experienced players try not to use firearms in vain, but sometimes there are situations when it is necessary to defend themselves and then huge problems arise.

In general, the usual match in Hunt: Showdown is an extremely cautious logistics, headphones twisted to maximum volume, cut out with a zombie knife and much more in the spirit of real stealth. By the way, these are extremely rare conversations with a partner. Why? Yes, because even conversations can be heard by other players who may be hiding nearby or even purely by chance just be nearby.

“Not only does the butcher look dangerous, he can also set everything around him on fire.”

Still, the fun begins when the hunters manage to get to the Boss. A real meat grinder begins, because each couple is trying not only to finish off each other and kill the demon, but also not to become a victim of the enemy group, who also decided to come to everything ready. Situations arise so unpredictable that players can even shoot each other, and the Boss will continue to wander calmly.

But if a couple managed to kill a monster, that’s only half the battle. After that, the demon must be banished to another world, and this will require for a certain time to protect his corpse not only from other players, but also from other monsters. The defense lasts for five minutes, after which you need to take out of this hellish place two trophies that the monster will have. To do this, conditional evacuation points appear on the map (there will be three of them in total). Evacuation points also appear in random places, so along the way you can easily stumble upon an ambush.


Progress system


“Absolutely every house is equipped in the spirit of the 19th century: from lamps and books, to cartridges and weapons.”

And Hunt: Showdown is harsh on all novice players. In this game there is no place for the weak, any bullet can take life. However, the real hardcore is that when a character dies while hunting, he leaves this world forever. It is for this reason that Hunt: Showdown cannot be recommended to every player.

There is permanent death in the game. So the death of the hero will be tantamount to his complete loss, with all the equipment and with all the skills. Of course, the game does not end there, you can take another hunter from the four offered, but this, of course, will be a weak character, which will again have to be developed from the very beginning. But do not be so upset, because the constant progress in the game is still present.

“Hunt: Showdown is amazing at how intense the gameplay is. Everywhere there are all sorts of monsters, like zombies and half-alive dogs. At the same time, behind any bush can hide some Dirty Johnny with his hard drive. “

In addition to the fact that the experience is gained by the hunter, the player himself is gaining it. The earned currency on the account does not disappear anywhere after the death of the hero. With new experience, the rank grows, and this already opens up access to completely new equipment. For example, to new weapons, new interesting consumables, new tools. As a rule, all the money is spent on buying some things for hunters, or they are spent on replacing old equipment. Thus, when the bitterness of losses passes, you begin to understand that after each new match, the arsenal gradually grows.


Graphics, sound, technical implementation


“At the moment, the game has huge hardware requirements, so it gives a good picture only on an extremely powerful system. However, the developers promise to fix this problem.”

I think it’s not hard to guess that Hunt: Showdown was developed on the most recent version of the game engine “CryEngine”, so it provides the game with really high-quality graphics. And yet, the game for the most part captivates not with its graphics and technology of the picture, but still with its atmosphere.

It is also worth noting that recently the swamps in the state of Louisina are gaining popularity. You could wander through them in the terribly scary Resident Evil 7: Biohazard and in the disastrous Mafia 3, but still wandering around them in Hunt: Showdown is still worth a lot. It is especially atmospheric when you play the night version of the map, when you have to wander through the dark corners and search for ill-wishers. The sensations are simply indescribable.

“Sound is an important element of the gameplay. It is necessary to listen to everything that is happening around. Hunters can make noise even when walking through a swamp or stepping on broken glass and all this is very clearly audible!”

In general, the atmosphere is maintained primarily due to the incredibly high-quality sound. The bottom line is that all the sounds in Hunt: Showdown were recorded by binaural method, as was the case with Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, so having a high-quality and good headset is a prerequisite for the game. And not only are all the sounds perfectly designed, but they also really help to navigate.

The only thing that pumped up and for this reason also can not recommend the game to everyone, the technical implementation. It is not clear how the developers who released the perfect Crysis series in technical terms managed to release Hunt: Showdown, which unsolidly slows down on almost any powerful hardware. At the same time, the authors try to hide all this, demonstrating in Hunt: Showdown system requirements, calling them “preliminary”. So for now, you should be prepared for the fact that the game will slow down, even if the hardware meets the recommended system requirements. It remains only to wait for patches that will fix all these problems.

“Crytek has always been able to make good graphics. So Hunt: Showdown is a great example of the talent of these developers. Beautifully designed interface, main menu, detail, level design.”


The Bottom Line


At the moment, Hunt: Showdown is a very interesting project that leaves the most pleasant feelings after you delve into the mechanics, lore, feel the atmosphere. But the technical implementation is now spoiling everything very much. At the same time, even despite all the scarcity of game content, it gives just a lot of different situations that make every ordinary match unusual and memorable. It is also worth noting that now the game does not have the Russian language. Of course, the game mechanics are not so complicated, but this is at least another reason that scares off the domestic player.

Now the developers say that soon the game will be replenished with innovations. For example, in addition to the new Bosses, there will be new equipment, including sights for short, medium and long distance. It will be possible to collect arrows from the bodies of killed enemies and even a full-fledged system for creating things will appear.

But all this will definitely be solved in the near future, another thing: how will the economy work in the game? If it is the usual “free-to-play”, then, most likely, the game will sell for real money in-game money and all sorts of cartridges, first aid kits, skills and much more. And this already suggests that some players in the game may have an advantage. Next, a situation may arise when “money defeats evil”, that is, other players. However, everything can be far from so, the situations can be completely different. For example, if developers introduce paid skills or something like that. It remains to be hoped that the developers will not spoil the balance in the game, which so far really corresponds to its meaning.


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