You have been queuing for several minutes now, with a drink on the table in front of you and patience that slowly begins to fade. Finally, the game announces that a lobby has been found and you quickly pick up the controller in your hand, looking forward to the imminent and juicy hunt. The players take the field e the yautja's scream shakes the jungle. Taking control of one of the most iconic alien killers in the history of cinema, you jump from tree to tree and use thermovision to search for your prey. And finally you find them: four unsuspecting soldiers, busy exploring an enemy base. Prepare the blades and throw yourself on the unfortunate, but something goes wrong. They seem immortal, and in the meantime your life bar is emptying as well as your desire to live. Flee, heal your wounds, come back to the charge and get riddled worse than before. The round ends with a loud defeat, and you resign yourself to the idea of having to spend the next quarter of an hour looking for new prey. Welcome to Predator: Hunting Grounds, the new asymmetric multiplayer by llfonic to PlayStation 4 e PC. Presented theLast year as a promising videogame survival race based on the legendary franchise that started in 1987, the title has unfortunately fallen victim to a series of obvious defects which certainly do not go unnoticed. And now, just as the killer studies his next victim, the reporter is about to analyze this game to assess whether it is worthy of a long hunt - or if perhaps it would be better to aim for other trophies.
All is not lost
Let's start with a very important premise: despite numerous criticisms and a lack of technical park, Predator: Hunting Grounds has all the bases to become an excellent and above all fun multiplayer. Since the launch, IllFonic is working to resolve several of the problems present and it cannot be excluded that this title may shine more in the future. However, at present, there are few reasons that could justify its unbalanced and defective structure. Coming from the same developers as Friday the 13th: The Game (unfortunately a half failure) and with a strong intellectual property like this, we could expect a work at least solid and up to the expectations of the public. Needless to say, this is not the case at least for now, but let's see why.
Wood, and not that of the forest
At the base, the gameplay recalls the aforementioned Friday the 13th and also the most well-known and long-lived Dead By Daylight (in which we admit it, a Predator would not disfigure at all). Four players take on the role of would-be survivors who must accomplish a series of objectives in order to escape from the arena alive while the fifth commands the killer and has the task of killing everyone else. However, Hunting Grounds tries to elevate this formula by introducing a entire FPS park with which humans can have fun waiting to face the real threat. Let's give Caesar what is Caesar's, the idea is absolutely intriguing and it is clearly better than being able to only escape from the almighty monster, but above all it gives the group the opportunity to actively defend yourself from danger. With a solid structure behind it, this opportunity would make both sides of this bloody hunt attractive, yet this first and fundamental element is missing.
Each mission, chosen by the Fireteam members by vote, usually consists of run from target to target and clean up enemy bases from hordes of NPCs, all while a Yautja patrols the arena from point to point in search of its prey. Each soldier has an entire customizable arsenal of weapons and accessories, a radar with which to keep track of allies and enemies (except of course the alien) and finally various indicators that highlight the mission and the places to go to advance in it. There is a good variety of different tasks, which sometimes result in rather intriguing game segments such as following pipes in the forest to find their source or exploring an entire camp in search of documents to burn. Unfortunately, these are being clouded by much less engaging tasks, like waiting for the end of a timer while being locked in a room or eliminating targets that do little or nothing to preserve one's existence. All this is corroborated by a well below average technical sector, which features graphics that are several years old, one unjustifiable woodiness on current platforms and an imbecile-proof level of difficulty (if you are at least close to the FPS genre). It also ends up that the equally captivating experience of the reckless soldier begins to resemble that traumatic period in which you tried to start a modern game on your grandfather's computer. But yet, in spite of everything, the life of a survivor in Predator: Hunting Grounds is definitely more rosy than that of a killer.
From prey to Predator is little question
Here we are indeed talking about absolute protagonist of the work, the fearsome alien killer that everyone would like to play (but I mean, literally everyone, just look at the waiting times of the lobbies). Compared to the slow and methodical members of the Fireteam, the Yautja is able to quickly fly over the arena by jumping from one tree to another and making long leaps, use thermovision to find players and NPCs and become partially invisible to escape the eyes of prey . After all, this is exactly what makes an exciting predator and the naturalness with which it is possible to move along the map by running on ledges and trees only adds value to the experience of Predator: Hunting Grounds. All this until you get to the direct confrontation with the soldiers and you quickly realize the power difference. Making a killing takes several shots and above all a fair amount of time, during which even the least attentive of the enemies can notice our presence and unload on us a rain of bullets that deteriorates our life at an immense speed. The Predator's ranged weapon, the normally terrifying plasma cannon, also requires very precise aim to inflict strangely reduced impact wounds. Many times we find ourselves forced to stop an assault because we realize that we just have swapped two strokes of blades for 80/90% of our hit points. All of this lasts until, magically, we level up enough to unlock the extra weapons: at that point, killing everyone becomes a total walk with a few aftermath of fun abandoned along the way. This abrupt transition from "yesterday was zero" to "today is a warrior" suggests the obvious balance problems of the system, which make it very unattractive. Few games have the flavor of a real hunting trip, and even fewer give you the same sensations of the films from which the game is based.
The curse of the orange tick
I talked about the possibility of customizing soldiers and aliens in Predator: Hunting Grounds and, if you thought there could be a sign of hope here, just a single orange tick will make you change your mind. Accessories, weapons and cosmetics for the characters are unlocked mainly randomly through a loot box system, with the possibility of purchasing what we like through the credits we accumulate playing and unlocking new arsenal by going up a level. The collection of new gadgets is well balanced and does not require the expense of real money, but the personalization menu is truly complex and takes away all the fun of the operation. Instead of scrolling quickly from one category to another, you have to move forward and backward through various all-too-specific submenus, with the need to follow numerous steps only to change a single element of the set. In addition, unlocked novelties are highlighted by a small orange tick, which normally should have the same flavor as receiving a new toy. However, between bugs that prevent their disappearance and the obligation to change the active weapon only to delete the sign on the new cosmetic, which perhaps we are not even interested in, we end up hating the cursed and want his defeat more than the Predator's death is hoped for in a game. Combining this with the already mentioned importance that weapons can have in a game (especially for the killer side), it is easy to understand how this complex formula quickly turned into existential boredom.
After all, a Predator is still a Predator
Still, the charm is there. Despite all the problems, jumping from tree to tree in search of their prey or constantly looking around to find the position of the invisible enemy has an attraction that sometimes peeps over the sea of problems and leads us to continue playing. Predator: Hunting Grounds is not a title lost forever and not even a total failure as many might think: the potential is there as well as the ideas, but they need aaccurate rebalancing operation and the elimination of most of the aforementioned defects to turn me into an at least amusing work. But above all, you need someone who teaches people the intrinsic and refined beauty of the daredevil soldiers of the Fireteam. Come on guys, we understand it, the Yautja are crazy and whatever, but it is not possible that it takes 25 minutes to find a lobby as a hunter as opposed to the 15-20 seconds of the human counterpart. It is also weaker.
Summing up, Predator: Hunting Grounds absolutely needed to meet very high expectations and, in trying to do so, he relentlessly fell too low. Almost every aspect of the game suffers from obvious flaws, nothing irreparably certain, but certainly very little justifiable by today's standards. However, there is an air of improvement and it seems that IllFonic is determined not to give up this work as already happened with Friday The 13th, but instead to fix it and make it as pleasant as possible. If you like asymmetric multiplayer and especially if you love the universe of Predator, keep an eye on the situation: perhaps it is not yet time to join the hunt, but in the future they may change the cards on the table.