Despite the recent controversies surrounding Crytek and the state of their future in this industry, the studio is still bringing new and interesting titles down the pipeline. Hunt: Showdown may sound like a generic title, but what I saw behind closed doors at E3 excited me with its cooperative multiplayer potential. The core concept about Hunt: Showdown is that 4 conflicting duos of occult hunters must search for a monster, banish it to hell and extract its precious bounty to win the match.
If we break this concept down further though, Hunt: Showdown has three key phases to every match. The first is the opening search phase, where each pair of hunters are trying to search for clues on the monster’s location. The catch is that the 1×1 km arena is set during night and populated by infected inhabitants. Firing a gun or even using a light to illuminate your surroundings could spell doom for the match because any sound or bright light could give away your teams position to the other players. This means players have to be stealthy and try their best to avoid conflicts during their wide search by either taking a long route around or throwing tactical equipment to create distractions.
Once a team discovers enough clues in Hunt: Showdown they watch a brief vision of the monster and receive a mark on their map where the it’s located. Now it’s a race to get to the monster first and take it down during the second phase. It’s still smart to be stealthy during this phase, but greedy players may rush to the location as fast as possible before any other teams can get the clues they need. The monster demoed at E3 was the Human Spider, which easily claims the title of one of the creepiest things I’ve ever seen in gaming. It oozed from its fangs, it shrieked every time it saw the players, and the way it moved sent shivers down my spine as if I’ve suffered from Arachnophobia all my life. Thankfully, I wasn’t hands on with the game because I would have had a Dark Souls “nope” moment and ran from the booth.
After the Hunters put down the disgusting spawn of Hell the last phase initiates. Every surviving team is immediately alerted that the monster died and must rush over to its location if they have any hope to win. This is ideally where the PVP starts in Hunt: Showdown. As the hunters are banishing the monster the rest of the teams have no regard for stealth and are going all in guns blazing trying to claim the bounty for themselves by killing the infected and each other till only one team remains. Once a player’s health bar is empty they enter a downed state, where they can be revived by a teammate for a quarter of their max health. With the monster banished, all that’s left is to extract its bounty to a drop-off point and win the game.
These three phases to every match of Hunt: Showdown sound highly addictive to me as a player who deeply loves cooperative multiplayer experiences. These are the kinds of games that built the relationship I have with my best friend since Elementary School and I know we would have a ton of fun thinking of all the strategies would could devise to win. The game is still very early though, with no release date or pricing model.
I believe Hunt: Showdown could be the Evolve that actually works and flourishes. While players may be mad they won’t get direct control of the monster, I think the Hunter gameplay stands on its own two feet as a solid and satisfying cooperative experience. My fear however, is that this game goes full retail and suffers the same fate as Evolve. By going free-to-play out of the gate, Hunt: Showdown has the potential to actually grab hold of a community of players and keep them locked in its servers as the game continues to grow into a stable platform.