The 1980s was a truly special time to grow up, with action movie and the testosterone-filled heroes inhabiting them almost defining genre and the decade at the time. It was filled with over the top action, cheesy dialogue and some of the most memorable characters in history.
So booting up Predator: Hunting Grounds certainly brought with it a sense of excitement and nostalgia. And while the experience of playing the game isn’t bad, it certainly isn’t great either.
Dillon, you son of a…
Predator: Hunting Grounds is an asymmetrical multiplayer first-person shooter, where you can play the role of either a human Fireteam member or the titular Predator in a 4v1 type scenario. The means that we essentially sit with one very powerful player, going toe-to-toe with a team of, less powerful yet still highly capable soldiers.
Once a match starts, you’re dropped somewhere on the map and if you’re playing as the Fireteam, you’re tasked with completing certain objectives and surviving in order to win the match. The Predator’s job is basically to hunt down and kill the entire Fireteam. Simple enough really. The gameplay is fun and matches generally doesn’t last very long. When playing as a Fireteam, there are enough distractions to keep you busy while you wait for the Predator to show up, and when playing as a Predator, using all your tools at your disposal to hunt your prey is both fun and engaging.
As the Predator, you have the ability to stalk the Fireteam from the treetops, jumping and moving silently and stealthily around to try and get the jump on them. You also have an assortment of gizmos such as the iconic heat-vision, cloaking and Plasma Cannon. You are not invincible though, and if the Fireteam manages to wound you, making you bleed glowing green blood, the hunter can quickly become the hunted. The Predator makes some very distinct sounds, warning the Fireteam of your presence, even if you’re cloaked, or hiding in the trees. It is the ultimate deadly game of cat and mouse.
The game also looks rather good, with the one jungle map inspired from the original 1987 film being very well crafted and a joy to look at. The human character models can be better, but it is passable, with the weapons and gear being pretty well rendered. The real star however is the Predator, as it is very clear that a lot of love and attention went into the details of designing it. It’s got a plethora of skins and mods and tools to unlock and it just looks amazing. It certainly isn’t one ugly motherulooked!
WHERE IS THE CHOPPA?!
Unfortunately, as good as the foundations are, and how much fun it is to mess around in it, Predator: Hunting Grounds has a lot of serious shortcomings, making it rather hard to recommend at this point in time.
First, we are limited to only three maps. In their defence, one is rather large, and do have some variety, as the objectives and starting points are different in each match, but it does become a bit stale after a while. The objectives, while seemingly varied are also very one dimensional, being a matter of go here, activate switch there and shoot dumb AI. All of this doesn’t sound so bad, but it all adds up, and it becomes a bit stale after a few short hours.
The biggest issue, however, isn’t the lack of content, but rather just getting to play the game. The game has been out for a while now, and matchmaking is still a major issue. If you play alone, you will be lucky to get a match in 5 mins, and that easily becomes 15 mins plus if you want to play as the Predator. There’s no random option where people match and one is the Predator, it is a separate queue, and waiting longer than what the actual match is going to be isn’t anybody’s idea of fun. We were lucky enough to play as a couple of friends from the SAGamer team, so matching with one or two others was quick enough, but alone takes forever. The only way we got to experience the Predator gameplay was through private matches.
The game gives you a ton of customisation options for both the Predator and Fireteam members, but unlocking all that doesn’t seem worth it if you can a) not play as the Predator and b) sit in a lobby waiting for matches the whole time.
Not worth sticking around?
Predator: Hunting Grounds is a very good and solidly made game, and with proper support, it can potentially be a lot more. It looks good, the mechanics works and premise, while not new certainly works very well. It’s great that you’re not just a helpless victim up against an unstoppable force like some other asymmetrical multiplayer games and that there’s a real fight potentially happening. It is a fresh and rewarding take on the genre.
But unfortunately, the lack of variety, matchmaking taking forever and not being able to play as the titular character of the game makes it very hard to recommend at this stage. There’s just not enough in it to warrant spending money on it right now and the potential of frustration waiting in long queues and boredom once the novelty wears off is very high.
If you’re lucky enough to play this with a couple of friends in private lobbies, then you will have an absolute blast, but unless developer IllFonic can fix the matchmaking and add more content like other modes and maps, then you’re in for a very lonely time. Predator: Hunting Grounds really has so much untapped potential.