The very specific genre of 1-vs-many online multiplayer horror games has a brand new entry with the nifty Predator: Hunting Grounds.
I enjoy the Predator films and own the whole franchise on Blu-ray including the silly Alien vs. Predator movies. Before playing Predator: Hunting Grounds, I didn't exactly know what to expect but having played Friday the 13th: The Game last year and seeing Resident Evil: Resistance recently, I figured it would simply involve a team of soldiers trying to outsmart an overpowered Predator. To my surprise, I was kind of wrong and I'm glad that I was because there's an additional layer to Predator: Hunting Grounds that I wasn't expecting which makes it much more faithful to the original film. Specifically, the soldiers are tasked with some sort of military operation and the Predator just happens to be lurking around. Now, that's awesome! The resulting formula makes for some intense online multiplayer action and it's fun whether you're looking for your next hunting trophy or merely want to get to the chopper.
Playing as the Predator features a third-person camera and just like in the film, you can leap great distances, run along tree branches, deploy a cloaking device, and use thermal vision to see heat signals which makes taking out enemies stealthily super-satisfying. As a Fireteam soldier, you play with a first-person perspective and it's fairly standard stuff as you take out enemy combatants, revive each other, gather intel, and apply mud to yourself so the Predator can't detect you as easily. Your team wins by completing the mission and escaping via helicopter and you can even kill the Predator if you're skilled enough. Of course, the Predator wins by killing each of the Fireteam members which requires a lot of skill, especially if you're up against a formidable team of soldiers.
I should mention that Predator: Hunting Grounds features great-looking environments that are quite detailed yet the most impressive part of its presentation for me is the audio. Not only is the music epic but the effects are incredible, especially when you hear the Predator stomping around then try to pinpoint exactly where it is. If you have a decent speaker setup, I'm sure you'll wholeheartedly agree.
One cool aspect is that you can customize your Predator and Fireteam soldier. With either, you can swap classes which alters your base stats and appearance as well as equip primary and secondary weapons, various perks, and gear such as healing kits, traps, grenades, and a motion detector. Of course, both have different weapons and gadgets with the Predator's being alien technology and the soldier having access to standard military gear. You unlock further options upon achieving new level thresholds and additional gear and costume parts are unlocked via field lockers (or loot boxes, if you prefer). I found the frequency of being able to open field lockers to be impressively regular, especially considering you can buy more with in-game currency that you actually receive a lot of after every round.
Of course, Predator: Hunting Grounds isn't a perfect game and its most notable flaw is that it all gets quite repetitive after a while. Just like similar games, the entire gameplay loop relies on playing through matches that are at their most enjoyable if you're playing with similarly-skilled players. In other words, it feels like rolling dice whether or not the next match will indeed be fun. One aspect that adds to the repetition is the fact that there are only a few maps and they're not excessively large which means you'll traverse the same locales over and over again. Finally, although I enjoy the fact that there are multiple possible outcomes for every match, I wish that there was a more strategic element to playing as a Fireteam member. For example, in Friday the 13th: The Game, there were many options available when it came to dealing with Jason and here, it seems to always come down to pumping the Predator full of lead.
Predator: Hunting Grounds is a fantastic game to enjoy whenever you're in the mood for some chaotic and overly violent online multiplayer action. With that being said, playing it in long sessions will make the experience wear thin sooner rather than later.
- + Awesome gameplay that goes hand-in-hand with the original film
- + Fantastic audio and environments
- + Rewarding unlockables and customization
- - Gameplay loop is rather repetitive
- - Maps become stale after a while
- - Could use more strategic elements