Predator: Hunting Grounds – Review
Follow Genre: Multiplayer, Online, Shooter, Action
Developer: IllFonic
Publishers: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platform: PC, PS4
Tested on: PS4

Predator: Hunting Grounds – Review

Site Score
7.8
Good: Perfect representation of the 1987 classic movie
Bad: The game doesn't highlight all of its features to players upfront
User Score
9.0
(2 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (2 votes cast)

“Get to the chopper!” – a line in the hit science fiction action horror movie, Predator, which became one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most memorable lines to this day. On the 24th April 2020 game developer, IllFonic and publisher Sony Interactive Entertainment released a 4 v 1 asymmetrical multiplayer: Predator: Hunting Grounds. This was released for PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows. If you are a fan of the Predator movie franchise then this game could give you a modern immersive experience in a video game.  You have the choice to be part of the Fireteam in a squad with 3 other players going about your missions, or be the Predator hunting those players who are in the Fireteam. In the game, you decide to be the Hunter or the hunted.

Story

Predator: Hunting Grounds has two perspectives, which depend on your character selection. When you play as the human part of the Fireteam – an elite soldier group consisting of a four-man soldier squad – you are sent into the jungle on a mission to take out a drug lord or collect information. At first, this comes across as a straightforward mission but if you know the Predator movie series, you would be aware that a major plot twist is coming: a creature from outer space is hunting down the soldiers. This, of course, changes the status of the mission, although ultimately as a soldier you have to carry out your task and survive being hunted by this creature. The other side of the coin is when you play as the Predator, this alien creature has to show that it is a superior hunter and it has chosen a jungle on Earth as it’s hunting grounds. This creature’s ultimate goal is to hunt down the soldiers of the Fireteam and rip out their spine with a skull attached – all for a trophy. 

The game seems to be recreated from the very first Predator movie where the same story is played out of soldiers going through the jungle to complete a mission but end up being hunted by an alien with its advanced technology. In some ways, this feels like two separate games, one from the perspective of the predator and one from the perspective of the humans, both with their own moral codes. This is decided when you choose to play as the Predator or the human soldiers.  We’ll get more into that with the gameplay.

Graphics

The environment in which the game is set in is realistically rendered and the visuals of the game are pleasing to look at. There is a lot of blood to be seen during gunfights, red and green blood, as the Predator bleeds green and the humans bleed red. General themes are carried on through from the 1987 Predator movie, starring Arnold Swarzenegger. It is easy to get immersed in the design of the jungle with its palm trees. When you are playing as a member of the Fireteam it is easy to feel like you are in one of the many already released military-themed games like, Call of Duty or Ghost Recon but if you’re a fan of the movie, you would appreciate the details that have been put on display for you. It has to be noted the graphics are much smoother on PC. On the PS4, visually, it’s at the same level but the frame rate doesn’t stay locked in as it does with PC. The Predator could be using it’s cloaking device but you’d notice the shimmering silhouette of the Predator body. It can also be tracked from its green blood if wounded, leaving a luminous trail to track the Predator. The game immerses you with the iconic feel of the soldiers being hunted by the alien from the movie. The detail of the Predator’s attire and weaponry is highly accurate. The user interface is not that difficult to comprehend and the simple design of the alien weapon wheel makes the transition of the weapon options of the Predator easy to get familiar with. 

Sound

The Predator movie was part of the horror genre,  and this was mainly due to the Predator being able to cloak itself rendering it invisible and making a creepy croaking sound, before the movie ‘The Grudge’ made it cool. This all went along with that tense atmosphere of being hunted. Since this is a game based on being hunted or doing the hunting, the sound is a huge deal as it can give away your position and reduce your advantage. It’s also one of the ways to spot the Predator, such as listening to the croaking or hearing the leaves being stepped on. Predator has a thermal vision feature that allows it to easily spot its prey. To counter this, soldiers can use mud to hide their heat signatures but also dampen the sound of their footsteps. Playing as the Predator and listening out for gunfire, alerts you to the fact the players you have to take out are an easier target to face right now, as they are taking on the AI in the game. If you’ve watched the movie too, there are so many audio signatures that are so satisfying when you hear it in-game, such as the slice of the Predators blade as he stealthily kills an enemy. Another one is hearing the helicopter as it goes overhead which brings back the nostalgia, along with the soundtrack being decent too. The music heightens the macho army hero atmosphere when in the lobby.

Gameplay

There are different objectives in this asymmetrical multiplayer game, such as when you play as the Fireteam. You play with three other players as part of a paramilitary squad with various missions such as getting intel or stopping a drug lord in the jungle. In the lobby before the game officially starts up you and the other players vote where you would want to start the mission off. The big twist when playing with the Fireteam is you have AI enemy soldiers that you have to take out in order to achieve the mission objective. While the Predator, who is another online player, is stalking you and can decide when and how they want to stop your plans and kill you off so that you can be their next trophy. The finishing move of the Predator is ripping your spine out of your body with your skull attached. Unfortunately, the AI enemy soldiers are not that much of a threat and are easily defeated. They do however ensure you use up your ammo and make you less prepared to take on the Predator. As fun as the situation sounds, you can easily take care of the AI, it would have been a more challenging experience if the enemy soldiers were other online players. That would change the dynamic to a more exciting level.

As a member of the Fireteam, you are able to equip yourself with a gun that suits your skillset. Ranging from handguns, sniper rifles, and shotguns which you unlock as you progress in the game. One of the cool mechanics of the game is covering yourself in mud, which hides your heat signature to the Predator as done by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie. In order for the Fireteam to win a match, the objectives have to be met and you have to survive the Predator or take it out. This was one of the most surprising aspects of the game. When you are part of the Fireteam, you are a squad of four players taking on one Predator player. The odds are highly in your favor to turn the tables around on being hunted. It’s not disappointing, it’s surprising how easy this is when your squad is able to coordinate properly or just simply stick together the entire time. In the movie, the alien is an extremely powerful character, although in the game the Fireteam can easily turn the tables around once you have gotten the hang of the game.

There is no campaign mode, only an online 4 v 1 mode and the Tutorial that only covers the Predator’s gameplay and everything else has to be read in the extras section. Illfonic could have made the unwrapping of this game way more exciting if somehow they had provided a space to simulate all the possibilities of the game than rather discover as you play and giving a misdirection as to only providing a tutorial for the Predator but due to the matchmaking players end up 70% playing with humans from the Fireteam. Illfonic must have wanted players to learn on the go primarily. Each mission has a basic outline: enter the jungle, take out the enemy AI soldiers, survive or take out the Predator and get to the extraction point and leave with a chopper. Dying in the game and not being revived by your teammates is how a loss results. When you first start playing the game as the Fireteam, you feel at a disadvantage because you are hunted but once you get over this you will find you will have more fun as the Fireteam than the alien hunting everyone. Matchmaking could be a huge factor in this as well. The average time waiting to find an online game playing as the Fireteam is estimated to be 45 seconds although this can go up to many more minutes. When choosing to play as the Predator there is a guaranteed 6-minute waiting time with a high chance of waiting longer, hence the gameplay is more fun with the Fireteam.

Playing as the Predator can be really fun but the game doesn’t deliver the same strength of presence the Predator has in the movie. As the hunter, you can easily become hunted by a coordinated team. If you invest enough time into playing as the Predator you are sure to come up with interesting strategies to take out the Fireteam. You are able to mimic the squad in order to confuse them and try to split the team up, however, the opposing players are aware of this and barely split up. Generally, you do get the feel of the Predator from the movie as you ‘Predkour,’ – an in-game predator takes on parkour – through the trees all while stalking the Fireteam and deciding how to take them out. This is either waiting for them to deplete their ammo and take them out before they leave the jungle on a helicopter or straight up annihilation with the alien technology available to you. As the Predator, you have access to the cloaking ability where a distorted transparent silhouette of you is displayed to your enemies. A great feature to include from the movie, however, the enemy can almost always still spot you if they know what to look out for. The Predator is also able to hunt the prey in a thermal vision, making it easy to strike down on enemies from the tree and not have to worry too much about the camouflage, although when the soldiers cover themselves with mud they can’t be seen temporarily. In order for the Predator to win a match, all the members or at least one member of the Fireteam have to be killed before extraction.

There are loot boxes that can be unlocked with the in-game currency. Shaders for guns can be unlocked along with many other accessories. As you progress to level with your chosen character you are able to unlock perks to assist you and stronger weapons. The Predator character, unfortunately, starts to unlock items at a higher level than what the Fireteam has to. Technically the Predator should be deadlier and that’s where this must have been a balance point. The basis of the game feels like this title could grow very strong, however, it is not quite there yet. There are some improvements needed, like more maps, as there is not that much available and they all look similar to the jungle setting. The AI in the game needs a difficulty upgrade and better awareness or other players can take the place of the AI to make it that more interesting. For fans of the Predator franchise, the game will feel good, though it’s just a couple of features shy of great. Illfonic could make this an exciting game for 2020 as it has a different feel to what all the battle royals are doing right now.

Conclusion

This game is a great reflection of what the 1987 Predator movie gave us. It is a bit rough around the edges but with more work this game could have you knocking a few hours a day playing this during the lockdown. When it comes to the character choices, it feels as though, if you want to have fun with your friends, you would choose the Fireteam character. On the other hand, if you want a challenge, you’d dare to take on four other players while using alien weaponry and strategic hunting methods. In the end, it doesn’t matter which side you choose, they both have their spoils of enjoyment. This game shows great promise, it just feels that it was possibly released too soon. This also could be that player feedback is what they wanted to carry the game further because Illfonic has done a great job with laying down the foundation of a promising title. This is definitely a game to play and provide feedback for as it can be a real multiplayer contender in 2020 if it gets the attention it deserves.

 

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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Predator: Hunting Grounds - Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
Ziggy Valentine


I'm a Gaming Content Creator on YouTube and Twitch known as 'raindanceziggy'. Video games are one of the greatest ways in which to tell a story and I am a huge fan of story-driven gaming titles. My dream is to become a professional video editor, writer and use those tools to contribute to the gaming community and leave my mark or at least a high score!

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