The average online shooter these days is all about being absurdly fast paced. From the frantic action of Overwatch, to PUBG and Fortnite constantly pushing you forward, the gameplay insists that the player never have a chance to breathe. Then there is Crytek’s Hunt: Showdown.
Hunt: Showdown has perhaps the most foreboding, overbearing ambience in any game, ever. Set in a supernaturally charged version of the late 1800s, the game doesn’t shy away from absolutely drenching itself in grime. Everything is crusted with dirt, ramshackle cabins are clouded with flies, and rotting horse corpses litter abandoned streets. So, realistically, it’s probably a pretty accurate representation of the late 1800s.
Amidst all of this filth is the player, the player’s teammates, and a mission to banish a supernatural horror before anyone else.
The Lurking Terrors
Let’s just be clear about this; Hunt: Showdown is scary. But not in a spooky monster jumping out of the shadows way, though that may just happen, more in a creeping dread sort of way. A big focus of the game is on directional sound. This means that every splash in a swamp, shuffle of a zombie, or cloud of shrieking crows sounds 100% real.
Only the sturdiest players won’t be periodically glancing over their shoulder in real life, just to ensure that nothing is sneaking up behind them. In fact, most will probably wisely opt to take a break every so often, perhaps just to claim an online casino welcome bonus and hit the slots for a bit. Anything to banish the lingering dread.
Slow Motion Gunfights
In the late 1800s gun weren’t exactly rapid fire. The vast majority were clunky, required cocking between each shot, and took forever to reload. Hunt: Showdown has confidently adopted these handicaps, with every available weapon closely resembling 1800s reality.
As such engaging other players is a slow, unbearably tense game of cat and mouse. Every player knows that if they shoot, and miss, they will be wide open for the time it takes to fire a second shot. Assumptions might be that the reduced pace is tedious, but on the contrary it is often terrifying. The directional sound again plays a big part, with those that sit still, listen, and attempt to locate enemies by sound rewarded.
Banishing A Beast
Though, engaging other players isn’t even always necessary. The goal of the game isn’t to kill other players, it’s to kill a supernatural monster before they do. Hunt: Showdown puts out an open contract; kill and banish The Butcher, for example. Which team does it first is what the gameplay is all about, keeping in mind that the contract can be stolen after the banishing.
All in all, Hunt: Showdown stands in contrast to virtually every other shooter these days. That it all works so well is testimony to the talent at Crytek, and a reminder that it sometimes pays to stray from well-worn paths. Hopes are that this is the start of a new trend leaning away from the sea of COD and Battlefield clones.