Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Predator Hunting Grounds, The New Asymmetrical Shooter

Predator Hunting Grounds is a new shooter in the same genre as Evolve, Dead by Daylight, and Depth. It was made by Illfonic, who are also known for another popular asymmetric game, Friday the 13th. Asymmetrical games are when one side is distinct from the other and plays differently, Depth pits two sharks against a team of four divers, Dead by daylight pits one killer against a group of four unarmed survivors, and Evolve is one big monster against four soldiers.

The one thing that these four share specifically is that it is a team of 4 weaker characters pitted against one or two stronger enemies, therefor the team of 4 has one obvious advantage over their opponent(s), numbers. So teamwork is vital in these games and you’ll need communication in order to stay alive in these hostile environments, especially in Predator Hunting Grounds.

Predator Hunting Grounds
When playing as the Predator having the high ground is preferable.

Predator Hunting Grounds’ Issues

I believe it is important to cover the issues of Predator Hunting Grounds first this time as I feel this game is particularly polarizing.

I believe that as a style of game, Asymmetrical games are inherently hard to balance. Having one player be really strong and then having four weak players teaming up, you run the risk of the one player being unstoppable and steamrolling others. But on the other side of that, giving the four player team more ways to deal with the other player can make that one strong player seem more like a nuisance rather than a real threat.

Developers have to make a decision between Balance and Atmosphere. For example in Dead by Daylight they want the killers as scary as possible and thus they made the games more in favor of killers and thus the game is not as balanced but way more atmospheric. A killer revving up their chainsaw as they get closer and closer is a very tense scenario and can get your blood pumping and it works in the game’s favor. Compared to if the survivors were stronger, you just leave the killer in the dust.

Predator hunting grounds also has this issue where one side can steamroll the others and I personally feel that until you get to the higher levels in the game, you are more likely to get stomped. At mid levels the predator gets a tool called the Combistick, which is a spear that in one combo can instantly down a player. But around that same level, the soldiers start unlocking revolvers, full auto shotguns, and many more weapons of death.

But all this being said, I still believe that this is one of the more balanced Asymmetrical games out there right now and I feel that both teams can enjoy the game.

Predator Hunting Grounds Victory Screen
Victory screen of an abandoned building.

The Map Designs and Characters

Now moving away from the issues with the game, I’d like to talk about one of my favorite things about Predator Hunting Grounds, the maps.

The maps are very well designed, vibrant, and actually it is one of the most balanced things about this game. There are places where the Predator can get an overview of where the other players are and strategize and they have the advantage in combat. But there are also places with lot of cover for the players to avoid line of sight, places to cover themselves with mud to avoid the Predator’s scans, and it’s thermal view.

There is always some type of counter play and it makes for very interesting and engaging matches. My only real complaint is that the areas between villages and other points of interest, aren’t very identifiable and I find myself getting lost in the woods sometimes as the Predator, who doesn’t know where the players will eventually be heading to. But this doesn’t take away from the fun of being a soldier and trying to fend off an invisible threat while doing your objectives.

I also love the character designs, it’s very pleasing to look at and the Predator looks absolutely phenomenal. Predator Hunting Grounds is very true to the character’s design and appearances in the movies.

Predator Hunting Grounds Stalking Prey
Using Invisibility to Stalk your Prey

Predator Hunting Grounds’ Gameplay

The gameplay in Predator Hunting Grounds is quick and intense when in the combat and slower and more tense when trekking through the jungle towards your next objective.

Predator players will be delighted to know that not only do you get your gauntlet and plasma caster, but there are a list of unlockable weapons for you to maim your prey with as well. Including a Net Gun to prevent prey from shooting you while you stab them or the signature Smart Disc for you to make tricky shots with the remote controlled Frisbee of death.

But the Predator is not the only one with new tools of death and destruction. The Soldiers are also equipped with a full auto shotgun, a 50 cal sniper, and even a minigun. This makes each match play differently depending on what guns you pick, classes you pick, and how you respond to the Predator, adding a lot of playstyles in Predator Hunting Grounds.

And the amount of objectives that soldiers have to do isn’t a lot, which means that fleeing from the predator is just as viable as standing your ground. Meaning as long as your team is paying attention and sticking together, you can win just as much as the predator can, and you could even kill the Predator if you have your team together.

Predator Hunting Grounds Casing the Area.
Casing the Objective area as the Predator, waiting for players.

In Conclusion

I think I have made it apparent that I’m not a huge fan of the asymmetrical genre due to it’s issue with balance inherently. But I gave Predator Hunting Grounds the benefit of the doubt and picked it up, and I was pleasantly surprised for the most part. When paired against a Predator of my level, I have a relatively fair game and I enjoyed it immensely, same for when I was the Predator and was against people of my skill level.

But the issue with match making seemed to be, higher level players basically always won or carried their team really heavily due to their gear. I understand why Predator Hunting Grounds does this but I feel that as a level 20 Soldier, if the predator is level 50 and he pulls out his Berserker and Combistick, I will not have a single chance. This also carried over to when I was a level 20 predator and then I had to fight 2 people with miniguns and my only way to even stand a chance was to peek them with my plasma caster and play in a really boring and lame way.

And ultimately getting curb stomped by some level 50 guy, playing lame, or curb stomping an enemy player, isn’t that enjoyable and that seems to be the issue with the genre as a whole.

But if you enjoy the asymmetrical genre and want something way more fair than Dead by Daylight, I recommend Predator Hunting Grounds. It is one of the few asymmetrical shooters that I will keep installed and play. And plus, who doesn’t want the chance to terrorize your friends in a private server as you hop around them and shower them with plasma shots?

Nathan Lambias
Amateur Writer and Reviewer. I enjoy a wide variety of game genres but my favorites are First Person Shooters, Role-playing games, and occasionally Puzzle games.

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