Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Rating: M for Mature
When it comes to asymmetrical multiplayer games, nobody does it like Illfonic. With this being the second licensed game from the 80’s under their belt, one would think these guys have the corner on this part of the gaming market on lock. Another could also think that multiplayer game adaptations of classic movies are unnecessary and just a cash grab. While each side can argue with each other, it is better to let the game speak for itself. Is your wallet being hunted or have you, in a manner of speaking, claimed your big multiplayer trophy?
Violence: As one would expect from a game based on an R-rated flick, Predator is filled to the brim with blood, gore, and violence. Enemies lose tons of blood when shot or stabbed, and sometimes an extremity will go flying. When playing as the titular alien, downed enemies can be trophy claimed. These claims can be quick where only a skull is taken from the soon-to-be deceased or a long, drawn out affair where strong carefully planned strikes pull ribs out from the spine.
Language: Frequent use of sh*t and f*ck in dialogue by NPC’s and player characters.
Drug Content: Some mission objectives involve locating drugs with the goal of destroying them.
Sexual Content: Sometimes skinned corpses can show bare buttocks.
Last year during PlayStation’s second State of Play, Predator: Hunting Grounds was first revealed to the world, and nothing made more sense than to have Friday the 13th‘s developer Illfonic on the case. There was promise and weight behind having this team handle another beloved franchise from thirty plus years ago. Regardless of its issues when it came out, Friday the 13th has gained a following and become leagues better than what it was. It seems Illfonic has learned its lesson.
Predator: Hunting Grounds works. It really works. As a member of the Fireteam, shooting feels responsive and precise. Every weapon, perk, and piece of gear has its purpose and serves it well. Each class has its own strengths and weaknesses. Weapons are not locked by class, so I was able to use what I wanted with whomever I wished. They each have their own amount of health, points available for perks and gear, movement speed, and passive abilities like revive speed or a boost to secondary weapons. The same can be said about the Predator classes too, except they do not get passive abilities beyond their perks.
Playing as each of the sides is a lot of fun. The soldiers have tight and responsive shooting with no issues with bad hit-boxes and overpowered foes. When completing objectives, coordination felt key. Even without saying a word to my team vocally, we could easily tell what needed done and it was dealt with immediately, even if they would leave me on the ground bleeding when the chopper came for extraction. If the Predator came for us, we could team up easily to take care of him. However, this could lead to the other enemies suddenly overwhelming the team. This tension and terror is always balanced in such a way that when the odds seem impossible, there would still be a way to take care of the situation and win.
Predators, on the other hand, feel powerful and terrifying when they show up to wreck shop in the middle of the operation. The only issue I have had is navigating trees as it is inconsistent on when and where I can climb trees or when I can change branches without needing to press the X button. One of my favorite things to do when bested as Predator is to use the self-destruct like ability from the movies. If I go down, I am taking someone with me. While the soldiers could defuse it, I could still take in the satisfaction knowing I caused at least some panic amongst them.
When it comes down to it, everything works like it should. The music is authentic to the original movie and adds to the experience like any good score should. The issue is what is not there, but would make everything feel more complete. It is as if I got a comparison without something to compare it to. Whoa, meta. There are only three maps, which I can only hope increases with updates. While the number is small, they still seem to bleed together so well that they all feel like one large area split into chunks. What certainly helps matches feel fresh is how the missions given are changed up so it does not feel stale. If I play on Overgrowth, I may play a mission to destroy cartel drugs or I may assassinate a faction leader’s brother to force the leader out of hiding. Though having more maps would be some nice spice to add to this mix.
Another great out-of-the-box feature that needs a little more push is the cross-play. I love the whole idea of it and its recent implementation into major multiplayer titles, including Predator. There is just one hiccup with it: there is no way on PlayStation 4 to invite friends on PC to party up and vice versa. Whether or not this will change in the future is unknown, but I sure hope it is implemented.
Predator also features a robust customization system, allowing me to add a personalized touch to everything I brought into the match with me. The amount of options is quite staggering, which I appreciate since I have yet to see another player dressed exactly like me. Every option is unlocked by one of two methods. The first is using the in-game currency Veritanium directly, which is acquired through completing objectives and grabbing it off the ground in-mission. The other way is through loot boxes which are bought with the currency and by leveling up—there are no micro-transactions in sight. Each box contains three items of various rarity. These items range from outfits for soldiers and the Predator to weapon skins for the soldiers, for some reason they do not unlock for the Predator’s gear.
Unfortunately, the customization system also contains some annoyances. The more boxes you open, the higher chance you’ll receive a duplicate. I have opened multiple boxes in a row containing the same weapon skin for the same weapon. Furthermore, sometimes I will earn skins for weapons locked by my level, and instead of being able to clear that notification on the menu, it will sit there mocking me until I have played more. This triggers one of my biggest pet peeves: I cannot stand having notifications left unchecked anywhere, especially in games. This would not be an issue if I could press R3 and clear everything, but that option is not available. Sometimes, I will look at the new thing I got and still get a notification that it is new.
I honestly love Predator: Hunting Grounds. There may not be a lot to enjoy, but what is there kept feeling fresh enough that I did not really care. Sure, there are some quality of life improvements that need fixing. Heck, there have been two updates in the first week of launch correcting certain issues. I had a glitch that kept the Predator from loading properly in only the menus and it was already fixed. The overall scale from Illfonic’s Friday the 13th may be reduced, but at least it works as intended straight from the get go. And when it comes to multiplayer only titles, that is really all I could have asked for.
The Bottom Line
Outside of some obvious glaring issues, Predator: Hunting Grounds is a fun multiplayer game that is still one of the best uses of a license since the Arkham series.