Predator: Hunting Grounds Hands-On – An homage to a timeless classic

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For several decades, Predator has remained one of the most renowned science fiction horror franchises in the world. Whether it’s a movie with a star-studded cast featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dannie Glover or Adrien Brody, the series remains one that many come to enjoy and now, they can relive the experience as the Predator or the fireteams in Predator: Hunting Grounds.

Set to release on PlayStation 4 and PC via the Epic Games Store, players will be exploring an untapped approach to the franchise. In order to give us one of the most enticing and immersive experiences yet, Illfonic is taking their experience with Friday the 13th: The Game one step further with the asymmetric multiplayer experience with Predator: Hunting Grounds, which is set to release on April 24th, 2020.

To prepare for its official launch, Illfonic ran an open beta for PlayStation Plus subscribers over the weekend, giving fans a chance to jump into the tense and intriguing multiplayer experience that Predator: Hunting Grounds has to offer. Due to the type of game it is, something rather similar to The Hunt: Showdown, players may be a bit apprehensive about what it has to offer: 4v1 versus objective-based AIs that have filled the map.

The game had us with more questions than we did have answers ranging from “how will this even work?” to questions such as, “how can we expect to progress?”. The beta, believe it or not, gave us almost every answer that we needed and a little bit more along the way.

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“Predator hunting grounds captures the sense of urgency, anxiety, and the sense of urgency that the films have had for nearly three decades”

Unlike the games we’ve been given in the past, Predator: Hunting Grounds takes the careful approach, taking what we know from the movies and moving on. They’ve made sure that the Predator isn’t some glorified killing machine that will eat through entire fireteams in a single swing. While formidable in the eyes of newer players, Illfonic has ensured that players who deploy as members of the human squads won’t be a band of red shirts waiting for a Borg killing squad to board their metaphorical ship.

This level of authenticity also comes to the other side as well. Human squads are formidable in their very own right. They have their own sets of perks, skills, and weapon loadouts that make them capable hunters that can tear a pursuing Predator apart if they are caught off guard. Both sides of the coin have numerous unlockables including items, skills, and even weapons that can be earned simply through playing through a match and completing it.

There’s even the ability to walk to a nearby river, smearing yourself in mud before continuing on, masking your heat signature from the Predator until they walk through water. It’s an amazing homage, especially when seeing a Predator getting wounded, watching their bioluminescent blood smearing random parts of the map, making it so you can track them through the trees, on rooftops, and on the ground as they quickly flea for a new vantage point or to heal.

The Predator, however, is a trademarked one, following everything we’ve seen in the cinemas before. He or she is fast (you can choose male or female Yautja), they can parkour and climb trees in the fashion you would expect, making them the perfect hunter, but not incapable of being seen or heard as they click, growl, and rattle the terrain around them with every step or movement.

Predator: Hunting Grounds captures the sense of urgency, anxiety, and the sense of urgency that the films have had for nearly three decades. It’s truly marvelous as being hunted is one of the most anxiety-inducing experiences you’ll ever find the entire experience to be one that feels as if it’s drawn straight from a movie, which is absolutely astounding.

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“Atmospherically, this is one of the best there is, but again performance does take a massive hit to deliver the experience”

While the experience is truly one of those we’d never have expected, especially one that brings to life a rather hyper-intelligent species such as the Yautja, it’s hard to truly see where things would go in order to bring the experience to a fully polished state. Sure, it’s astonishing to see the Predator flicker in and out of its camouflaged state, it’s terrifying to hear its roar, and it’s more unsettling to hear the nuclear countdown begin if the player forfeits a match and tries to wipe everyone around it out.

But there is an issue that comes into play with this all: Performance takes a massive hit. Atmospherically, this is one of the best there is, but again, performance does take a massive hit to deliver the experience. It’s saddening, but there is only so much you can do, which Illfonic has done in order to ensure that Predator: Hunting Grounds is as organic as it can be.

Graphics aside, expect a moderately good looking game. You won’t see the goofy faces an animations you saw in Friday the 13th: The Game, but you will still see something that’s a blend between last and current-gen as far as graphics go. While not bad, it may leave some to cringe a bit as even graphics have a small room for improvement with games like Horizon Zero Dawn and GTFO leaving a lot to be desired from competitor titles.

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“Classes, weapons, and communication actually matter”

When you begin loading out your class, even if you are using the general classes that are there, you’ll find that setting your loadout up properly, is where things begin to actually matter. They’re important as everything you have is what you will use to survive whether fighting against human A.I. or against the player-controlled Predator.

This is crucial as the game does require a lot of preplanning if you plan to succeed in completing the randomly generated missions that the game will give you based on the map you deploy on. Weapons, their attachments, and even your perks matter, making it essential that you pay attention to what loadouts you equip and how you approach the situation at hand.

There are perks to limit the ability of the Predator to find you, making it more difficult to be tracked and having an edge on the Predator, however, don’t think this will stop it. The Predator is equally as cunning as you are, given that they have their own loadouts and classes, each of which makes the Predator just as lethal as you.

The Predator can equip various weapons and perks just as yourself, some allowing that lethal net you’ve seen more than once, others allowing it to mimic player voices and dislocate them from the party in order to create a tactical distraction. Even the laser targeting system the Predator has can throw you off, making it difficult to assume where it is and locate it as its stealth ability is, well, one of the best there is.

Classes, weapons, and communication actually matter. This isn’t the kind of experience will you will run around mindlessly. You need to communicate, if you don’t the Predator has already won and it will be able to use the beautiful settings while lacking in detail, to its advantage and quickly dispatch an entire squad.

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“The A.I. could use some drastic work before launch, but so could the environmental details”

The downside about this game isn’t the encounters against the Predator, but rather, against the A.I., which feels as if it was taken straight from a PlayStation 2 game and only gauged upon those very A.I. They’re nothing more than cannon fodder, which makes the Predator encounters not as intensive as you would have hoped. It sucks too, as the PlayStation 4 could have handled it and it would have been amazing to take on some intelligent A.I. while facing down the Predator itself.

Tag team that together and you’ll find that some of the game’s textures look painfully last-gen and that coupled with low framerates on the PlayStation 4 Pro; it was a trying experience, which makes you really wonder what is going on and why this even happening. It’s a solid game, but it’s painful. If you can get past it though, it’s fun and it’s one of the most unique experiences that you’ll ever experience as the Predator.

There’s still hope though. Illfonic does have some time getting the game hammered out. The A.I. could use some drastic work before launch, but so could the environmental details. That doesn’t take away from the fun that you can have, which is there and trust me, the game will rope you in and not let go, even as the Predator is ripping out your marines skull as a trophy. It is a faithful take on a well-established series, but it’s one that just needs a bit more polishing around the edges before it hits the digital and physical shelves.

Predator: Hunting Grounds is set to launch on April 24th, 2020, for PC and PlayStation 4.

About the Writer(s):


Dustin is our native video game reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable.  You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook where he interacts with his followers quite a bit!

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