Game review: Predator: Hunting Grounds
FYI, this story is more than a year old
Predator has always been one of the coolest movie characters ever created as not only do they look cool, but they also have lots of abilities and weapons that most humans don’t have access to. The franchise all started thanks to the 1987 film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and the movie became a classic hit that is still talked about today.
In the topic of video games, the Predator species has appeared in various titles over the years covering many different genres. Arguably the best one is the 1994 Capcom arcade beat-em-up called Alien vs. Predator which is still enjoyable to play.
Developer IIIfonic is giving us something different this year with the release of Predator: Hunting Grounds available on the PS4 (version tested) and PC. Instead of a single player action experience, Predator: Hunting Grounds is an always online multiplayer game allowing players to become a Predator, or a human soldier in a fireteam.
The game that shares the most similarities with Hunting Grounds is probably Evolve which itself didn’t really light the world on fire when it released in 2015. The main problem people had with Evolve is that it was a full priced video game at launch, but the lack of content didn’t attract a large user base so the game slowly died a painful death.
Sadly, I feel a similar fate will follow for Predator: Hunting Grounds because this game doesn’t offer many game modes and maps to justify its insanely high $69.99 NZD price tag. Free-to-play games such as Fortnite and Warframe offer way more content and you don’t need to pay a cent to enjoy them!
There are essentially only two game modes that Hunting Grounds offers at launch and none of them are very enjoyable. The first game mode is when you control a Predator and you have 15 minutes to hunt down as many soldiers as you can. This includes the four human players you can wipe out, and even the many A.I. controlled guerrilla soldiers.
The second game mode is where the roles are reversed where you play as the human soldiers. The human soldiers are in the jungle trying to collect intel or to take down an evil drug lord. While this is their main mission, the Predator is set loose in the same location and players have to find a way to survive and kill the dangerous alien.
And that my friends is pretty much ALL that the game has to offer. The only thing that will entice other gamers to persevere is to level up so you can unlock the many cosmetic items you can collect for both the Predator and your chosen human soldier. Levelling up also gives you access to a few newer weapons such as a gatling gun for the human and a cool bow and arrow for the Predator just to name a few.
Getting cosmetic items for the Predator make sense since you can see the costume changes for the character as you’re playing in third person. What doesn’t make sense is that you can customise the look of the soldier as well, although I feel this is pointless because you’re playing in a first-person perspective whenever you are a human character. Even if you change the look of your human, you’ll only notice the differences during the very short beginning and ending cutscenes.
If you want to collect more cosmetic goods, there are lootboxes you can unlock called ‘Field Lockers’. While I hate lootboxes added in games in general, the only upside to them in this game as that you can unlock them by using in-game currency instead of real life money.
In terms of gameplay, playing as a Predator is the only redeeming factor this game has. The Predator has special abilities as it can turn invisible and jump really high on top of the treetops. The Predator can also use thermal vision to hunt down enemies safely from a stealthy position.
Playing as a human isn’t all that special because it plays like any other FPS out there in the market. While it can be challenging trying to kill a Predator with your teammates, defeating A.I. soldiers is laughably easy. They’re not very hard to kill and they pretty much just stay in one position all of the time.
Graphically, Predator: Hunting Grounds is far from the best looking game that you can play on PS4. Even though the game uses Unreal Engine 4, I feel the visuals look more like it was from the PS3 era of gaming. Not to mention there are only three maps in total and they all look the same anyway since all of them are set inside the jungle.
The matchmaking on the first day of launch was atrocious as I was waiting up to 10 minutes or more just to even join in on any match! To the developer’s credit though, the matchmaking process improved as the days went by so I was able to play more matches afterwards.
Anyway, Predator: Hunting Grounds is just a very hard game for me to recommend even if you are a huge fan of the franchise. The $70 price tag is way too high for a game that features a lack of game modes and only three maps for you to play in. You are better off only trying this game if it’s discounted by a large margin, or if it eventually becomes free-to-play. As of right now though, the game is too expensive for its lack of content.