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Predator: Hunting Grounds - Hands-on preview from PAX West 2019

If it bleeds, can you kill it? Shacknews goes hands-on with upcoming PS4 exclusive Predator: Hunting Grounds at PAX West to find out.

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Whether a special ops mission in the jungle goes well or goes sideways, when you're facing down a killer alien with supreme hunting instincts, it's often a race to the chopper to escape with your lives. That's what happens when you're faced down with a giant Predator, but how much easier or harder does it get when the Predator is controlled by a human? Predator: Hunting Grounds was an interesting title when it was first introduced by developer Illfonic, the team behind Friday the 13th. Can lightning strike with their second asymmetrical multiplayer effort?

To find out, Shacknews went to the PlayStation booth at this year's PAX West in order to give both the humans and the Predator itself a shot. We were eager to see how much of the source material's atmosphere this could capture. And while we walked away satisfied, we did walk away with a few questions and concerns.

Predator: Hunting Grounds - PAX West

Starting off as the assault class, with three other playable classes available on the human side, the session opened with a scene that felt like it was pulled straight from the 1980s action classic. Helicopters fly in with rock music blaring overhead, as the four-player fireteam stepped out ready to roll. The idea here is for the fireteam to complete a series of objectives. While the Predator is the greatest threat, it's not the only opposition players will find. Enemy soldiers are lurking about and will open fire on sight.

While one of the main goals is to kill the Predator, our fireteam also had to complete a handful of objectives. So while we made sure to keep an eye out for a certain hunter in the tree tops, we also had to exchange bullets with a large number of AI soldiers. And those soldiers proved to be fairly formidable themselves, requiring some syringe heals and even some teammate revivals.

After dispatching the AI soldiers, the real meat of the experience came in as the human-controlled Predator revealed itself. It's an overpowered beast, finding me clumsily shooting at it and catching me in the corner. I had unwittingly made myself a decoy, as it turned out, because my other three teammates took advantage of the distraction and were soon able to dispatch the Predator in a hail of gunfire.

At this point, it was fair to wonder if the Predator was underpowered or if that was an instance of user error. To find out, I took control of the Predator myself. As the Predator, things change a bit, with a third-person perspective and several different tools available. The idea here is to stay undetected along the trees, waiting for the right moment to strike the human fire team. The AI enemy soldiers provided a helpful distraction, as I made sure to keep the fireteam's positions noted after isolating them with my thermal Predator vision.

With the fireteam underneath, it's possible to pounce on them and attempt to move in for the kill, but the humans can put up a lot of resistance. It's possible to start bleeding as the Predator, at which point you become much easier to track, even if you go invisible. You can heal yourself when you get far away, but at that point, the humans can work together and call out the Predator's location. Escaping becomes much trickier than one would expect.

There's a definite learning curve when playing as both the fireteam and as the Predator, especially for the latter. As overpowered as the Predator can be, it can be defeated easily in the wrong hands. And playing against a bad Predator can actually lead to a fairly mundane experience, which is one of the main concerns with the game going forward.

Outside of that, Hunting Grounds looks to capture the essence of the film nicely and it'll be interesting to see what other fireteam objectives will get introduced as more maps and scenarios are added. There's much more to come from Predator: Hunting Grounds. The game is set to release on PlayStation 4 in 2020.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
  • reply
    September 1, 2019 5:00 PM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Predator: Hunting Grounds - Hands-on preview from PAX West 2019

    • reply
      September 2, 2019 6:11 AM

      Sounds like Evolve but in the Predator world. I briefly tried Evolve after it went f2p and experienced the exact issues you described - an inexperienced hunter gets roasted, and an experienced hunter is nigh-impossible to kill. The whole thing felt very binary. I hope the devs are able to find a way to make it more of a tug of war between the hunter and the hunted.

      In the mean time, I ain't got time to bleed. (god the movie is so quotable)

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