Review: Hunt: Showdown (PS4)

James Troughton shares his adoration for Crytek's latest work

James Troughton
9th March 2020
Crytek’s Hunt: Showdown is one of the most innovative multiplayer experiences in that it elevates battle-royale to an entirely new standard.

From the developers of the original Far Cry and the benchmark testing software, Crysis, comes this 1800s first-person-shooter in which you hunt monsters whilst other hunters are vying for your blood. Leave the hunting of hunters to Eileen the Crow and try your best at survival, because this high-octane thrill-ride will leave you on the edge of your seat.

It can get nerve-wracking when you hear those shots off in the distance closing in.

The premise is simple: gather clues, take down imposing bosses, take their trophies and then escape, all whilst competing with others. On the way, there’s your bog-standard zombie, albeit with many wielding weapons or flaming sticks, but there’s also a diverse array of enemy types. These vary from the bent-back Candyman-esc Hive’s that spew poisonous swarms of insects to the Armoured who are beefier than most all the way through to the Immolators who are a fiery explosion waiting to happen.

Each game also has you choose from a roster of five hunters that you purchase, and you can customise their perks, weapons, and items, all whilst leveling them by completing games through extraction. Luckily, you don’t need to beat a boss or take their trophy to leave, but killing enemies, players and doing objectives nets you more XP upon completion. The catch? Once you surpass player level 11, which is separate from individual hunter levels, your hunters are lost when they die, meaning that you have to buy more with in-game currency, leveling them up from number one all over again.

This only cranks the tension of each game up as now your hunter is on the line and the more you beef them up with better weaponry, levels, and expensive items, the more that you have to lose. It can get nerve-wracking when you hear those shots off in the distance closing in. Before spotting what at first appears to be a zombie, you’re on the floor with your friend pulling a bullet out of your head and picking you up. Each time you go down, one of your health bars is cut off entirely, meaning that you can’t heal it back. They can also be burnt to a crisp, which makes Immilators a nightmarish foe – oh, and did I mention the tentacle monsters that grab your feet in the water and beat you to a pulp? There’s a lot to keep an eye on.

Credit: IGDB

That’s what Crytek ultimately did so well with Hunt: Showdown – the beautiful complexity that is so intuitive. The enemies are challenging and the bosses take time to learn, but Crytek nailed the reward factor with those dopamine-fueled end-of-match cards that sport incredibly satisfying sound effects. There’s nothing quite like ending a game with multiple hunter kills under your belt, a collected trophy from the boss, a plethora of enemy takedowns and an extraction, which all add up to give you 20+ levels.

Related: Review: Journey to the Savage Planet

The only downside is that there is only a single map and three bosses, but games like this tend to get paid DLC and free updates, so that’s likely to change. For console players, beware the clearly-designed-for-PC interface which has you use your joysticks as a mouse cursor, which is a little tedious. However, those are the only major flaws which aren’t even big issues: the shooting is responsive, the sound design is phenomenal, the visuals are stunning and the battle-royale experience is unmatched.

Featured image credit: IGDB

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