Hunt: Showdown Preview – Shaping Up To Be a Hit When the Servers Work
We are getting bombarded with battle royale games ad nauseam, trying to ride the lucrative coattails of PUBG. Many of them now feel like shallow clones of each other, following the same game loop of looting and skirmishing. Much to my surprise, I’ve encountered a game that is taking a different approach to the tired model. I’ve been wanting to get back into rounds as much as possible in Hunt: Showdown because it’s something different from what I’ve been playing so much of lately. The premise of hunting down demons before other teams do is far more enticing to me than simply trying to be the last man standing. Being limited to slow-loading Victorian era weapons creates an even more suspenseful environment, forcing you to carefully consider every shot you make. I’ve been having a great time playing in the technical alpha … when it works.
Hunt: Showdown works a little differently than some of its peers in terms of preparation before a match begins. You build up a roster of hunters, characters that can be leveled up and could have random traits. Before a hunt, you can choose what weapons and gear you want to take with you. Some of these include powerful consumables that you will need to purchase again to restock while tools like the first-aid kit restock automatically for free. It might seem strange to have a roster of hunters rather than a single character that you trick out, but there’s a good chance that you will lose some hunters in your first few games. That’s right, the stakes are raised during a hunt, meaning a dead hunter is dead forever. If you lose all of your hunters and have no money left, you can purchase a free hunter. These free hunters are somewhat limited, but become normal tier I hunters after a round.
As for these hunts, the premise is always the same: get the bounty and safely exit the map. How you choose to do this can vary widely depending on how you play. You could track down three clues using your dark vision and reveal the location of the boss, or you could simply wander around in hopes of stumbling across him. Maybe you want to find the boss, wait outside of it’s hiding place, let some other team kill it, then take out the other team when they are weakened by the boss. In my first match, another team took out the boss but seemed to have been taken out by another team that was camping the bounties. My random teammate and I managed to bait out the other team camping and snagged the bounties for ourselves. Unfortunately, it’s not always a success story and sometimes you are just lucky enough to escape the map with some life left.
The real thrill in Hunt: Showdown comes from how little information you’re given from the game during a hunt. You know there are other players. but you don’t know how many started with you or how many are left. You know that there is a boss, but you don’t know where. There’s no arbitrary timer trying to rush you, only the idea that someone could get the bounty before you. This means you could simply farm experience on monsters and leave the map without ever attempting the bounty. You wouldn’t get any money, but it might be good for target practice or leveling up a free hunter. It’s like a small sandbox experience: you can go for the main quest if you want the big reward, but you aren’t explicitly punished for doing side quests either.
Since my only experience with the game is the technical alpha, not every session has been a smooth one. The first two days of the alpha seemed to go ok, but the servers have been down and (at the time of writing) are currently still down. I only managed to do the spider bounties, so I’ve been eager to get back in and try the butcher ones as well. I understand that now is the time to have these issues and fix them before the game opens to the public, but my own impatience is eating away at me. I’m very interested to see how Hunt: Showdown iterates from this point forward, hopefully fine-tuning the game into a spectacular experience.