Hunt: Showdown is a multiplayer-only game with a vaguely Victorian aesthetic set in alternate timeline to the real world. At its core, the game is centered around taking contracts and hunting demonic monsters. You can go in alone, or with another player in co-op (I’d heartily recommend the latter). You’ll work your way through a map filled with zombies, undead dogs, golems of flesh and more, all while trying to find the boss, the monster that is the focus of this particular hunt. I covered this game at E3 2017, so you can read my initial thoughts on it right here. Now, I’ve had access to the Hunt: Showdown closed alpha for the last few days, so here’s my initial thoughts and overall impressions.
Also, I must emphasize that this is an alpha, and as such, it’s very early and a work in progress. As such, I’ve separated my report on the graphics away from what I like or dislike about the game.
Overall, the graphics are sharp however, some textures clearly still need a lot of work. The swamps looks really good, showing the strength of CryEngine, and the creatures are all extremely well-designed, with detailed rot and gore in abundence. The player character models definitely still need some more work however, as the shaggy hair and beards simply don’t look realistic. The framerate generally hit somewhere around 45-60 fps, though it sometimes pushed higher or dropped to the mid-30s. I have a very strong computer, so performance optimization is definitely needed.
What I liked
First off, the setting is striking. From the murky swamps to eerily quiet corn fields, all of it sets the tone for what is to come perfectly. The moment-to-moment gameplay is where Hunt: Showdown truly shines. Working your way through the murky swamps, carefully choosing whether or not an enemy is worth engaging. Every footstep you take or sound you make might reveal the path you are taking to another hunter. Every match plays out differently, as you look for clues to where the monster is hiding and you figure out the most beneficial path to take.
As long as the framerate is holding up, the gameplay feels great. Rifles have heft, shotguns and power and every melee hit feels like it has a strong impact. It’s visceral and satisfying to crank out headshots on the zombies, light a giant creature on fire or simply bring out the knuckle dusters for some good ol’ fisticuffs.
Then of course, there’s the monsters themselves. Rotting zombies, hive-like corpses that release swarms of insects, giant golems of flesh surrounded by leeches. The bosses take another step further, as it’s here that the game’s binaural audio comes into play (using a headset is absolutely required). Make your way to the Spider, and you’ll hear it chattering while quickly dashing from one corner of a roof to another. The Butcher’s ragged breath, his lair decorated with noisy hanging chains designed to give away your location, it’s simply terrifying in the best possible way. Every creature here is simply disgusting, fascinatingly so, and the potential for this world’s lore has me incredibly excited. Just what is causing this incursion? Is it demonic in origin, or is it something else?
What I disliked
Unfortunately, over the last few days, my attempts to play different matches have been met with error codes, disconnects and even regional server mixups, not to mention egregious load times. Suffice to say the matchmaking continues to be of extremely poor quality (assuming it’s working at all). On top of that, Yes, the Hunt: Showdown closed alpha is specifically designed for testing issues however, these things need fixing nonetheless.
As for the gameplay itself, I think that there needs to be more encouragement for players to engage the boss first instead of other hunters. Right now, there’s practically no benefit, as if you survive against the boss, others could be waiting to swoop in and claim the bounty while you’re still recovering. Maintaining the risk-reward factor will be critical in order for the gameplay balance to work.
The Hunt: Showdown closed alpha showed off a very unique setting and gameplay that, while rough, has room to grow. With that said, these graphical issues, matchmaking problems and game balance all need to be fixed, on top of the fact that the game will need much more content in order to thrive. All things considered, I feel that Hunt: Showdown has an extremely compelling core concept and a good foundation to build on. We’ll keep you up to date on any future announcements. For more information, you can check out the official website here and add the game to your Steam wish list here.