Predator: Hunting Grounds. A game that plays like Dead By Daylight, Resident Evil Resistance - and most importantly, Friday the 13th, which is by the same devs; can they improve on where they previously failed? Or make the same mistakes twice?
Predator: Hunting Grounds is a promising candidate for an addictive, online game. There are two main forms of gameplay in this game. One, is playing as a Fireteam Member. This is the military unit sent into the jungle to complete various objectives against AI opponents, unaware that there's a predator in the forest. The second, is playing the Predator, knowing there's military in your jungle, and hunting them down for victory.
So, first of, let's talk about the gameplay:-
The gameplay in this game is one of the strongest aspects (obviously) but it's also one of its biggest letdowns. The Fireteam side is probably the most promising of the two. You, and 3 other players (4 total), are put into the jungle with a random objective. You have to complete a series of 3-4 objectives, in which you can then call in a chopper to exit the mission, completing it. Alternatively, you can also kill the predator to complete your objective. This means you can shoot them down, they activate their self destruct and blow up, or they don't and just die. You can also defuse their self destruct mechanism to then secure their body, which is the equivalent of waiting for a chopper. Just waiting a set time until you can leave. This is where the game is most promising, and the biggest let down. You, and 3 other players, going around the jungle for multiple objectives, killing anywhere between 10-100 AI soldiers between you, whilst fighting off the Predator and trying to survive. So much going on, but with solid teammwork and coordination, you can succeed. The gunplay/movement of your characters is a bit arcadey in feeling, but it's also fun. There's no extreme realism to make it a pain in the backside. It's just a genuinely fun shooter. Unfortunately, a majority of the guns have absolutely terrible control/accuracy, which is to make sure the game isn't unfair on the predator, sure, but it's a pain in the backside for just simple AI killing. There's not a huge range of weapons to choose from, which is where it begins to get boring. You have 4 assault rifles, 3 sniper rifles, and 2 'special' weapons as your primary. You then have 3 pistols, 3 shotguns, 3 submachine guns, and 1 special as your secondary. The secondary weapons are barely worth it, besides the special which is a minigun. The shotguns do bare minimum damage, and the pistols are just overall trash. The only real fun weapons to use are the Assault Rifles, but their accuracy and handling are so terrible that it takes all the fun out. There are also many other things, like perks (passives), and equipment (frags etc), but with this full arsenal, the most I, and any other player I played with did, was just use medkits and a machine gun, with no real effort to try and make a set playstyle. The fireteam could be the most fun with polished gunplay, more objectives to range from, and bigger maps to explore, but instead it's what's the most promising playstyle, ending up lackluster and a tad repetitive/lame.
Now then, for the predator, which is the worst part, in my opinion:-
The straight up, biggest issue with the Predator in this game is how easy it can be straight up gunned down. Sure, it makes sense that if all 4 fireteam members focus fire on you, you die very quickly, but it's extremely unfair compared to the fireteams perspective. You injure fireteam members, wound them, they can be bought back up, or even bought back into the map by reinforcements. They have syringes to heal, medkits to heal, other players can share their medkits, they can find medkits around the map. What does the Predator get? 1 second wind, and 2 heals. That's it. Sure, the Predators meant to be slow, stealthy, and hunt them 1 by 1, but if a fireteam consists of 4 players sticking together and all shooting together, the predator is a for sure lose. You can kill maybe 90% of their team and the last person escapes at the end, and you get tons of xp and a 'win', it doesn't really feel like a win. You just spent 10-15minutes hunting them down, trying your best to live, just for one to escape still. Sure, this is meant to be a satisfying feeling as you stop those players you killed from winning, but the game lacks any really rewarding way to show that you did good and you won. The predator is also out-gunned in terms of equipment. You have a bow and arrow, some melees, some other weapons, but primarily your plasma cannon. The enemies can see your lasers before you shoot, they can see your camo pretty clearly, they can see your blood trail if they're actively shooting you, they can spot you very easily and repeatedly, and the trees shake and rustle as you jump/run around them. This all adds up to the Predator just ultimately being a lose situation. Sure, you can get into a game with noobier players, and take them all out with ease, or players with no teammwork, but what's the fun in only winning against noobs/bad players? Where's the fun if you can't have a fair fight tackling against good players who know what they're doing? As a whole, the Predator gameplay/mechanics are fun, but they don't seem like they're ultimately optimized and thought through.
Thirdly, and lastly, the two biggest issues in this game, matchmaking/connectivity, and the maps:-
The maps in this game aren't very big, they're quite small, so any form of the Predator trying to stealth around results in them either getting lost, or being very easily tracked and taken down by the Humans. The humans can choose to not do their objective, they can just hunt down the Predator and take all the fun out of it. There are .. 3, 4, maybe 5 maps? Some of them have a small difference of structures. One has shanty-shacks, rivers, etc. One has AI military camps, ruins. One has a big train yard in the center. Sure, their layout is different, the placements of things, but for a game where you repeat objectives and hunt AI, the small-ness of the maps, the fact of them being jungle-locales, it doesn't really feel like you're playing any different kind of maps. With each match being anywhere between 5-15 minutes, you'd think more maps would be a thing. Sure, map creation is hard, and their might be some new ones in the future, but for a game that's primary objective is humans being hunted by a Predator in a Jungle-location, you'd think the maps would be bigger, a lot more dense, or have more variety to the maps for strategies.
The matchmaking.. The matchmaking in this game is the very bane of it. You can matchmake in quick matches where the game will make you either a Fireteam member, or a Predator, or you can search for one of those individually. The issue here is, the Fireteam has an average estimated-wait time of 20-40 seconds. The Predator (that I've experienced over a full week) can be anywhere between 5minutes, to 8 minutes. So if you want to play Predator, you'd be waiting 10minutes tops, to play a match that will only last 15minutes anywhere.. What kind of time investment is that? If you choose to quickmatch as either to mix it up, you're ALWAYS going to be put in as a Fireteam due to the massive time difference in searching, making that option ultimately useless. The game also has a ton of connectivity issues while matchmaking. You can get to the (right as I'm typing this) 6minute mark of your 6minute estimated wait time as a Predator, then your game will switch to 'Connecting' instead of 'Matchmaking'. Pressing Cancel won't fix this, as matchmaking from then on will be funky. You have to restart the game, then re-search. So you end up waiting what, the first 6, then the second 6, 12 total minutes, just to play a 10minute match? What's the point.
The Predators controls can also be the bane of your gameplay. Whilst you're doing button-combinations to try and locate the enemy, switch your weapons around, etc, whilst you're in trees.. Your Predator will glitch and begin to float into the air, revealing you while you're trying to be stealthy. The weaponry also isn't that great in comparison to 4 guns all shooting at you. You have a bow and arrow that has bullet-drop.. Or Arrow-drop, I guess. A plasma cannon that shows lazers. A net gun that has significant bullet drop, and a bunch of others. You use energy to cloak yourself, use the plasma cannon, and other means, meaning you have to pay close attention to your UI to not overload your energy.. Whilst also paying attention to the mess of what's playing as the Predator, it comes off as more of a chore than it does fun, compared to the Fireteam that just run around and shoot simply.
- the game has a long way to go until it's polished, or feels polished.
- it has bad matchmaking/connectivity issues.
- it's very, very repetitive, getting boring within a simple hour or less, making a long-term play dreadful.
- gunplay/controls are finnicky, rarely work in your favour.
- could potentially be made fair in future, but in these kind of games, buffs/nerfs never work out properly.
- a game primarily about teamwork, where hardly anyone uses mics because they just don't, or they're on PC and can't use mic with PS players.
- you will be bored by the 10hour mark, let alone the 100 or so hours that you may require for the platinum, if you don't boost in private matches