It’s Sunday already? Where did my weekend go…oh yeah!
This weekend has been the free trial for Predator: Hunting Grounds and it’s been amazing. It completely snuck under my radar, I’ve been looking forward to the game since it was announced but there was almost no advertising for the trial, I had to find out from a Twitch streamer. I’m a big fan of games such as Dead by Daylight, Evolve and Friday the 13th, plus I’m a very big fan of the Predator franchise, so this hits the spot for me! I’ll admit the game had issues – that’s to be expected from a beta – but it also has a lot of potential, it was enough to convince me to pre-order which is something I have only done a handful of times in the years I’ve been gaming.
For those who know nothing about the game, it’s an asymmetrical multiplayer shooter, like Evolve, only with Predator rather than monsters, and the humans don’t have special abilities. There are 5 players to a match, 4 of these play as members of ‘Fireteam’, a paramilitary organization that has to complete their objectives dotted around the map and then GET TO THE CHOPPER to win. These objectives include tasks such as taking down the head of a criminal militia, hacking data files and blowing up signal jammers. The 5th player is the Predator, the ultimate hunter. They have to kill all players before they can either complete all of their objectives or kill the Predator, which is an alternative yet less rewarding way to win.
The ‘Fireteam’ gameplay plays out pretty much like any shooter, leveling up to unlock different equipment such as guns, med-packs, and grenades, then using that equipment in their matches to kill enemies and complete their objectives. Although the Predator unlocks are level-based just like the humans, the gear is a lot more varied. It has access to weapons such as the Combistick (my personal favorite) a spear which you can either use for strong melee attacks or throw as a projectile, the Net Gun which traps a player in and they have to button mash a certain key to get out, and the Plasma Caster, the tri-beam, shoulder-mounted gun classically seen in the movies. The Predator gameplay is where I think this game shines and stands out. You have to hunt the humans down using footprints, audio cues, and abilities such as thermal vision and cloaking.
There is a mechanic in the game called ‘Predkour’ which interests me and isn’t something I’ve seen in this type of game before. The whole map is a jungle, and the majority of the trees can be climbed by Predkour (you’ll know if it’s climbable because the base will be glowing red). There are multiple branches on each tree, all at different levels you can climb to. From these branches, you can run towards another tree, and a button indicator will appear telling you to press that to move to the next tree (space on PC). This added opportunity of elevation is what truly makes the Predator gameplay feel like you’re stalking and hunting the humans, you can follow them, fight from the trees, and disappear into the trees when you get too injured.
One of my favourite moments of the trial this weekend was when I wiped the full squad within 5 minutes, just by using the height of the trees to my advantage. I trapped one of the players with my bear trap, then jumped down to drop him with my Combistick. I got injured before I could execute him so I leaped up into the trees and healed myself. The players revived their teammate, and all ran into one building to heal up, so I threw some bear traps at the entrances, trapping 2 of them. I then jumped back down with my Combistick and managed to down 3 of them before I had to run away and heal, but quickly returned and trapped the 4th with my net gun. Ended up managing to get full executions on all 4 and claim their ‘trophies’ (their skull and spine)
Of course, amongst all this greatness I encountered, there were a handful of bugs and things about the game that will need changing/tweaking, but this was just a trial weekend, for people to actually try some gameplay. The issues definitely weren’t enough to spoil my fun; I pre-ordered the game yesterday since I enjoyed it that much! As a special pre-order bonus, you’ll get the ’87 Predator skin and Ol’ Painless minigun from the original movie!
All in all, this trial has been incredibly fun. It does have some issues that need tweaking, but it’s nothing major, nothing that ruined the game for me. I’m very excited to pick it up on release day and hone my hunting skills. It could very easily become one of my favourite games of the genre.