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Predator: Hunting Grounds

Predator: Hunting Grounds

While presenting a whole ton of potential, IllFonic's latest venture into the world of licensed games falls short.

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Many years have passed since we got to watch bodybuilder extraordinaire Arnold Schwarzenegger take on a menacing alien warrior on the big screen for the first time, and it's fair to say that a lot has happened since. Ol' Arnold opted for a dual a career in both acting and politics, was elected the governor of California, and never returned to reprise his role as Dutch, the most cemented-in character of the Predator series. The series, however, lived on without him and even spawned spin-off titles in both film and video game form, appearing regularly with a fellow alien life form, Alien's Xenomorph. So, while IllFonic's concept of a multiplayer game featuring the Predator has been attempted before, the asymmetrical PvP sub-genre is more successful now than it has ever been, with games that aren't necessarily technical or visual marvels such as Dead by Daylight and Friday the 13th: The Game keeping their incredibly dedicated fan bases coming back for more with each and every update and cosmetic drop.

The latter of the two games mentioned was, in fact, originally developed by IllFonic, so while the developer has an asymmetrical horror game on its resume (two if one was to count the studio's supportive work on Evolve), its track record isn't the strongest as Friday the 13th: The Game was plagued by licensing issues, a lack of content, and sub-par gameplay, none of which has really been remedied. IllFonic also left the project abruptly, leaving it to Black Tower Studios to pick up the baton. You may be wondering why we're going on about previous developments, and there's a simple answer to this: many of the issues that plagued the aforementioned slasher afflict the studio's latest project as well.

Predator: Hunting Grounds has a fun premise. Depending on what you decide to queue up for, you'll either be zooming around cloaked in a state of almost complete invisibility and hunting down humans, both AI-powered bots and player-controlled soldiers, or playing as one of the said soldiers and fighting to survive this rumble in the jungle. You do this by using heat vision to locate your prey, and slashing and/or shooting them down before pulling their heads off of their bodies with the same ease as you would decapitate your sister's Barbie. And if you're on the other side of the contest, you're simply trying to stay alive by dodging incoming attacks and covering yourself in what your character presumes is mud, completing objectives, and then getting to the chopper!

Predator: Hunting GroundsPredator: Hunting Grounds

It's a simple premise and every game follows that same pattern for both sides. If you're playing as a soldier on the Fireteam, you'll be given three objectives to clear and those objectives will determine if you'll make it out or not. You have to complete them all before extraction and you'll encounter AI soldiers along the way, usually in the hub locations where your objectives are located. Apart from the AI soldiers trying to foil your plans, however, there's a Predator lurking in the shadows, high up in the trees or perhaps right behind you (gasp!). The Predator can be heard pretty easily as it runs around thanks to heavy thumping footsteps that make the ground tremble, squeals from the trees, or seen via a giant beam of laser, but don't let that make you cocky as the Predator is both fast and deadly.

As the Predator, you'll spawn in with a single objective - to eradicate the humans by any means necessary. You'll have to differentiate players (who you have to kill to win) from the AI characters or use the pro strategy of letting the Fireteam take care of the AI soldiers and take them on once they're spreading out to complete their objectives. This is all rather fun - at least at first - however, it quickly starts getting repetitive. "Soon the hunt will begin" - or rather that should be "end" because Predator: Hunting Grounds doesn't offer much in terms of longevity.

Predator: Hunting Grounds

The main issue with the game is that every match is pretty much just more of the same. Sure, the objectives differ and you're rotated between three different maps (that don't change all that much), but after a few hours, every match starts feeling the same as the last.

For those of you who care about cosmetics and customisation, however, Predator: Hunting Grounds has a lot to offer and you won't need to spend a dime to collect the skins, perks, weapons and outfits either. Instead, you earn in-game currency through playing matches and by picking it up on the maps as you play. You also get loot crates frequently. That said, most of the weaponry and skills unlock after reaching certain levels, which won't represent too much of a grind as you level up rather quickly.

Predator: Hunting GroundsPredator: Hunting Grounds

The loot system does seem to be rather buggy though, showing already examined items as new and sometimes not showing newly-acquired items as unlocked at all. The technical issues don't stop there either, as it suffers greatly from gameplay bugs, texture problems, crashes, cross-play issues, connectivity problems due to the game's peer-to-peer matchmaking, long queue times, and more. Phew! The most frustrating bug we encountered was one where our Predator couldn't climb trees even when prompted, nor could we shoot our laser, and we ended up jumping around frantically and getting killed rather quickly, followed by getting teabagged by an entire team of soldiers. Was it a complete mood killer? No, but our feelings were definitely hurt and we felt betrayed by the game's very mechanics. We also encountered a bug where our Predator became a grey mish-mash of polygons (an issue that still hasn't been fixed following the latest patch, we might add) and an issue where we couldn't invite PS4 players via the promised cross-play lobby feature. Cross-play does, however, seem to work fine when jumping into a Quick Match, because almost every game we played had at least one PS icon next to a name in the lobby.

Predator: Hunting Grounds is a fun experience and for a licensed game based on a movie, it's one of the better examples that we've played. Bounding around in the canopy as a menacing alien with heat-vision and high-tech weaponry is a power trip in itself, and there's fun to be had with a team of like-minded players working together on the ground, too. However, technical issues and repetitive gameplay bring the experience down. If you have a full squad and the option to go at it in a private lobby, Hunting Grounds would clearly be a hoot, but without the full team experience, it's appeal will fade fast unless it gets a ton of extra content added because what's offered at launch isn't even close to enough.

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05 Gamereactor UK
5 / 10
+
Levelling system is rewarding, in-game currency piles up fast, gameplay is fun when it works, great sound design, fun customisation options.
-
Gets repetitive fast, few levels, plenty of bugs, graphical issues, cross-play feature is half-cooked.
overall score
is our network score. What's yours? The network score is the average of every country's score

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