Hunt: Showdown 1.0 Release Review

Platform: PC
How was the game received?: Personal Pre-Release Purchase
Genre: “Objective-based-BR-like-PVP-with-PVE-elements” **nailed it!
Release Date: August 27th 2019
Cost: 54.00 CDN
Where to buy it: Get it Here!

Reviewers PC Specs (Full Overview)
Processor: Intel i7-5930k – 3.5GHz 6-Core Haswell-E
RAM: 64GB DDR4 3200MHz
Graphics: NVIDIA RTX 2080TI
Monitor: Asus 1440p – 27″ 144Hz, 1ms Response
Headset: Audio-Technica RODE M50X RED
Mixer: Yamaha MG10XU

Description of the Game

The Wild West has been dominated by doomed demons demonically drudging this steampunk dystopia.   That’s the bad news, the good news is the demon hunting for hire business is booming and there appears to be a surplus of starving hunters all competing over the limited supply of contracts. This is the scorched earth method of demon hunting. Do you have a monster who you need a skilled hunter to dispatch? Why not send 12 of them out on your behalf, all at once, for a fight to the death.

This is an “Objective-based-BR-like-PVP-with-PVE-elements” setting 12 hunters in teams of 1,2 and 3 against one another for a winner takes all objective based bounty hunting experience.

You are a hunter that searches for clues using a “dark vision” ability to eventually locate the main boss monster, kill, banish, collect the bounty and escape the map in one piece.

Hunt: Showdown was developed by Crytek the team behind CRYENGINE with the most notable game leveraging their platform being Crysis, developed by Electronic Arts.  Over the years Crytek themselves have put out a few games, the most notable being Ryse: Son of Rome and today with Hunt: Showdown.

Graphics Review

Hunt: Showdown is built on the CRYNGINE and it takes advantage of all the splendid detail and fidelity we have come to expect from this advanced engine. Trees are real, sprawling and varied, textures are detailed and believable, water has those brilliant reflections and refraction that give it life, this is truly a set piece for what the CRYENGINE is capable of.

This game has come along way since alpha. Currently at 1.0 release I can easily get a solid 60FPS on all max settings and solid 90FPS with a few minor tweaks, reducing post processing etc. This is still a demanding game however mid-range PC should be able to achieve 60+ fps relatively easy even with the game being built on the CRYENGINE.

The level design deserves a special callout and is truly top notch. This is by far the single best multi-player map I have ever experienced and is worth the price of admission just to experience this map.  Aspiring level designers should buy this game for this reason alone and I would argue that game design schools should spend time studying and understanding what makes this truly spectacular, so we can all benefit in future games.  Each location on the map is unique, each building curated perfectly the care and detail put into each object, each room, each corner of this map is perfect. The style plays extremely well and takes you back to alternate reality Louisiana in the 1800s.

Story Review

There is no story that you play through however you do find and unlock various books, newspaper clippings, diary entries and other pieces along the journey to unlock the mystery around Hunt: Showdown.

A Hunter carries with them the dead weight of the horrors they’ve lived. Some can bear it, some stagger beneath the burden uncertainly. Here, an unnamed Hunter recounts the deadly allure of tracking their first target. From their first intoxicating glimpse into the Dark Sight, to their final absorption into the grotesque psyche of their prey, we retrace the boundaries of their own disfigured reality and the gradual unraveling of their grasp upon it.”

Dark Awaits is an entry on official Hunt: Showdown blog.

Needless to say I won’t spoil the story however the characters, maps, monsters, gameplay all come together to paint a picture and bring you to a simpler time of gunslingers and demons and the fight for humanity.

Audio Review

The soundtrack was created by Port Sulphur Band, not much info on the interwebs about them however Port Sulphur is a location in Louisiana which is the location Hunt is located. Fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. Here, listen for yourself.

There has been a lot of effort into the soundscape of this game and it truly pays off. The leverage binaural audio to trick the listener into a realistic sense of depth, direction and distance. Audio in the open world sounds different then in a closed building. You can read up all about the audio techniques used on their blog site here

I would go as far to say a headset is a requirement for this game to experiance the full audio experience and effort put in by the sound engineers at Crytek.

Gameplay

The gun play is also very solid and satisfying, the older wild west style weapons fire slow and require every shot to matter, gun fights last longer then typical shooters, most of the time, and require strategy, flanking and precision.  It’s not perfect, we will get into some of the challenges I had with this but overall very satisfying.

The trash-mobs are varied enough and just challenging enough to pose a threat without consuming the experience.

Hunt: Showdown awards stealth play but makes this very challenging by adding in sound cue’s such as caged dogs that bark or crows that fly into the air when you approach them notifying other players to your location.  This with the trash-mobs make it difficult to approach a location or clue without notifying others to your presence so keeping a sharp ear will help you survive.

Improvements

I am in no way benefiting from my review of Hunt, I truly believe it to be an excellent game overall however there are some things I would like to see improved.

The pinging system that was recently introduced removes some of the communication required to effectively play as a team and allows quick, easy and accurate spotting. Its a nice feature but removed a certain level of difficulty and immersion, however, it also improves the experience for newer players. This is a minor gripe.

They introduced (2) play style settings. Gunslinger and hunter. The hunter style has their weapon down unless they enter hip aim mode with the right mouse button, aiming down sight required an additional shift button press, this 2 step ADS process was unique and added a little extra chunkiness to the in game experience which makes a lot of sense when you are wielding a late 1800s revolver. It takes some getting used to but is my preferred way of playing the game. Without entering hip fire mode pressing left mouse would start a melee attack using your weapon which is very handy.

The Gunslinger mode is a new mode introduced with 1.0 and mimics typical shooters, your weapon is always ready to hip fire and pressing right mouse aims down sight. The tradeoff is the weapon can no longer perform melee attacks and requires the player to equip a duster aka brass knuckles or a knife aka pointy stabby stab device. Not a huge fan of this mode, I preferred when the only mode was the hunter mode. Again, makes the game easier on newer players and is a fairly minor gripe as well.

People say the graphics have taken a major hit since pre-release. I personally don’t notice much of a difference, it looked great before and looks great now. Some users posted comparisons between earlier pre-rerelease and 1.0 however I can’t tell much of a quality difference, I find the 1.0 if anything, to be higher detail. Here, look for yourself. Early Access on the left and 1.0 on the right. They look different, yes, but I wouldn’t say 1.0 is worse then pre-release.

I have also seen comments about the female characters recently introduced into the game are not period appropriate and ruin immersion… really? I see no issue and would think we were beyond this being a sticking point. Sexist people, be sexist, end of story.

I have noticed in some games I get a high ping warning and a few games have noticed a hint of rubber banding or network performance issues. They are hiring an army of network programing engineers on their website so I would suspect this will improve over time. It’s not every game and your mileage may vary.

Night maps are a bit too, well, not night. Its pretty easy to see and early releases had a very dark setting for night maps. I hear the developer did this to level the playing field as its easy to turn up brightness in the graphic setting to get an edge over players who don’t. I don’t see another way arround it for competitive reasons I guess but a slider to allow the player to go darker if they wish would be a good addition.

I would also like to see more monsters and bosses and a stretch goal would be a new map. This is purely selfish reasons. I am not in any way bored of the original map, I just want to see them create a new masterpiece.

Steam reviewers also point to micro-transactions and day 1 DLCs as an issue. I have even seen a pay-to-win argument. The micro-transaction system is purely cosmetic based and does not have a loot box mechanic and provides no competitive advantage. The day 1 DLC is just a few additional skins and some blood bonds (in game currency for skins) you can also earn blood bonds and unlock things without buying anything additional. I don’t see an issue with how they implemented this system. I wish more developers would do what Crytek did as opposed to a loot box, gambling systems.

Roadmap

They have published a roadmap of future development which includes a mix of community requested features and others. The one I look the most forward too is a hardcore mode. You can find the roadmap here

Summary

Hunt: Showdown is a unique experience with a great atmosphere and developers who appear to take feedback and implement changes bsed upon them, even if they misstep from time to time. I am really enjoying the game and would highly recommend picking the game up if you enjoy a dark atmosphere, slower paced gun play and a challenging experience.

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