The 4v1 genre of multiplayer games is tough to get just right, but it hasn’t stopped developers from trying again and again with mixed results. From the original IP Evolve to adaptations of well-known franchises like Friday the 13th and its cadre of horror villains, as well as Resident Evil Resistance, developers have been toying with the idea of one player being uniquely overpowered against a team of people trying to take them down or just escape. In fact, that’s the direction most of these games have turned to. Resident Evil Resistance, for example, is simply about the group of survivors escaping, rather than specifically about eliminating the villain.
Predator Hunting Grounds is the latest title to tackle 4v1, this time using the fearsome Predator as the powerful single character against a fireteam of four soldiers. Soldiers enter one of a few variations on generic-looking jungle maps with a specific set of goals, most all of which amount to going to a location and holding down square to do a thing. It might be taking out a drug smuggling operation are another of a generic and forgettable set of objectives that contextually don’t do much to change the gameplay. You’ll get to a small encampment, take out AI enemy soldiers and hold square to do whatever the game is asking you to do. Then it’s off to the next one, and then a short wait at an extraction point to win. In fact, the fireteam missions technically have nothing to do with the Predator at all.
On the Predator side of the encounter, your task is very straightforward. Kill the fireteam of four human players before they can complete their mission and escape. You get access to the Predator’s signature abilities such as thermal vision, stealth, and using the trees to navigate the level, which can allow you to get the drop on the distracted fireteam with ease. Take out all four of them and remove their skulls (either quickly or via a longer animation that rewards more experience) as trophies, and you’ll walk away with the victory.
I found that this simplicity made every encounter really easy to slip through. As the fireteam, I simply rushed through objectives and got myself out. As the Predator, it felt easy to leap in and hack away at the soldiers with my wrist blades. Matches rarely held a fair “back and forth” where I felt sufficiently challenged on either side. The overall balance and focus of the game just felt off, though it’s hard to say where exactly it falters. It’s not that the sides are imbalanced. The Predator is laughably easy to kill if you have a focused group of soldiers, but Predator can also wipe the floor with the soldiers and have their skulls home in time for supper if they aren’t all on the same page. The inverse of both is also true, highlighting a serious gap between players who are on the same page communicating and a group of randoms just doing their own thing. Illfonic needs to close that gap and make matches a little more engaging no matter who you match up with or against.
Predator Hunting Grounds Review – If it Bleeds, We Can Kill It
In fact, in the many matches I played, both as the human soldiers and Predator, I only had two that I can distinctly remember as being fun and engaging back and forth battles of wits and abilities. In one, I killed three soldiers while one was able to wound me and escape. I darted into the trees to lick my wounds and regroup. Meanwhile, he did the same and was able to revive his whole team through a unique reinforcements mission that appears when any soldier dies. I once again had to track them down, and though I did manage to take them all out and claim their skulls as my own, it was the kind of tense battle I had hoped would be more omnipresent in Predator: Hunting Grounds. Unfortunately, it was the exception, not the rule.
Every match feels very one-sided, whether it was the fireteam taking down the Predator with ease, or a sly Predator managing to wipe out the soldiers with little trouble. There are some potentially interesting mechanics at play once the Predator dies, including a self-destruction nuke and the fireteam trying to defend the body from AI soldiers, but it makes the games feel a bit incohesive and directionless. At least the Predator has one goal: kill. The soldiers are trying to do four things at once, the benefits of which aren’t immediately clear.
It’s arguable that longer playtime could lead to more interesting matches as additional weapons, abilities, and loadouts are unlocked, but the gameplay should be enticing enough on its own to make me want to unlock all that stuff, not be the carrot on the end of the stick as I hope for more engaging battles. I also worry that it could lead to greater imbalances down the line as early players unlock additional classes, loadouts, and skills, and new players are still grappling with the basics. Multiplayer games that give tangible gameplay advantages to veteran players are just asking to die on the vine and limit the ability to gain a new audience down the line.
Predator Hunting Grounds Review – I Ain’t Got Time to Bleed
And all of that’s even when I could play. As recently as last night, with the game now out for nearly a week, I was still met with queues of 5-10 minutes for the Predator, though usually getting into match as a soldier took less then a minute. Every single match I got into was always a longer wait than the “estimated wait time” displayed on the matchmaking screen. And don’t even bother selecting “random.” It’ll just throw you into the next available match as a soldier. So much time spent waiting on loading and matchmaking screens makes me seriously reconsider what I’d like to spend my gaming sessions playing, especially when the gameplay isn’t that engaging to begin with and the game can end rather abruptly. (Or, if you are the Predator and are killed, you are forced to wait and observe the rest of the match in order to get any experience and rewards, adding even more wait time to being the Predator.)
Predator: Hunting Ground is a haphazard collection of intriguing yet incomplete concepts slapped together into a mediocre experience. It feels as aimless as the floaty first-person controls it boasts, with dull generic jungle levels that one can hardly tell apart. It begs for replayability, but long queue times and repetitive objectives outweigh the carrot of any new unlockable gear. There’s a salvageable core of a game that needs a massive wave of quality of life refinements to motivate and engage players. On paper, the idea of pitting a Predator against a group of soldiers is a novel concept, but in execution, Predator: Hunting Grounds is far less exciting or engaging than its property suggests it could be.
Predator Hunting Grounds review code provided by publisher. Reviewed on a launch PS4. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy.
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