Crytek's upcoming survival/hunter shooter Hunt: Showdown surfaced just last week as a limited number of high profile influencers and streamers were allowed to broadcast live gameplay of the closed beta, soon to be followed up by media outlets. With battle royale and survival games dominating sales charts and streaming surfaces like twitch.tv (see: Fortnite and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds), Hunt: Showdown was immediately popular for a few days before full-time streamers returned to their normal titles. More on this later.
Having seen brief snippets of gameplay myself, and knowing how popular Escape from Tarkov (a very similar but modern-set hardcore survival game), I reached out to the developers in an effort to test the closed beta and see how it plays. Hunt: Showdown is made by Crytek, the makers of the CryENGINE® 3 and incredibly beautiful Crysis games, so expectations are high for performance and visuals on this one.
We've put together a guide to help players understand how and when to get their hands on Hunt: Showdown, and once they do, how to actually play since there's little official documentation available for the unreleased title.
What is Hunt: Showdown?
Hunt: Showdown is a multiplayer first-person shooter that puts a player against everything. Players can play solo or with a partner as elite hunters seeking to take down monsters for bounty in a world full of dangers, but other players in the match are after the same thing and so the hunters are also the hunted. Players must exit to survive, or lose their hunter forever.
Monsters have overrun our world, and their flesh will be your bounty in a tense match-based, first person monster hunter from the makers of Crysis.
Developed by the creators of Crysis, Hunt: Showdown's gameplay is slower and more methodical than other survival games in the genre. Its not about looting as much as it is surviving and hunting, tracking down clues to get to the mission boss(es). After taking down a boss, a challenging feat in its own right, players must take their loot and attempt to extract from the game but other players will be able to track them. Your hunter is fully equipped when entering a match so all players are on equal footing when it comes to having firearms right off the bat.
Players recruit hunters to take into matches and level them up with experience, using cash to better equip then. Once a hunter is dead, they're dead and other hunters will need to be recruited and leveled up. The main progression for players involves and overall rank which unlocks gear and consumables for use.
How many players can play Hunt: Showdown?
Up to two players can play cooperatively online in match-based swampy worlds where enemies players and duos are randomly inserted. It's almost essential to player with a partner or be outnumbered and outgunned.
How to get into the Hunt: Showdown Closed Alpha?
Hunt: Showdown is currently only playable to players who can get into the limited closed alpha. Interested players should signup immediately for the Hunt: Showdown newsletter for a chance to get in on the next wave of alpha codes. Keep an eye on the Hunt: Showdown subreddit as well where some players are frequently giving away codes and of course, there are some contests including this givaway from PC Gamer.
What is Hunt: Showdown's Release Date?
Like most major survival and battle royale style games, Hunt: Showdown is expected to release in "Early Access" meaning it will not be bug free or feature complete when it releases to the public. No release date for Hunt: Showdown has been announced yet but given its state in alpha, expect beta sessions later in 2018.
There is no official release date for Hunt: Showdown yet and it is a PC only title available on Steam.
Hunt: Showdown's Official Trailer
Watch the official trailer for Crytek's Hunt: Showdown above.
Hunt: Showdown Closed Alpha Impressions
It's difficult to land judgment on Hunt: Showdown from its Closed Alpha so we'll focus on the major highlights of what works and what doesn't from what's available in the current build of the game (as of mid-February, 2018). Hunt: Showdown is a visually impressive title with day/night cycles and a well-realized, detailed world full of creepy ambiance and horrifying creatures. Crytek, the makers of CryENGINE® 3, know visuals and sound design and it shows through with Hunt: Showdown which is easily more impressive at a glance than most titles in the genre.
As for gameplay, the slower-paced, more methodical approach to navigating the world and engaging in combat is refreshing though it feels grind-y when it comes to using weapons against any non-standard monster, and certainly, other players. This makes the PvP and boss fight scenarios, the headline gameplay moments, unsatisfying and inconsistent. Bosses are bullet sponges for slow-loading weapons and shootouts with enemy players are unimpressive as can be without landing a headshot.
The gameplay controls are a little strange on this front too since pulling the trigger (left-clicking on the mouse) is actually a melee attack, swinging the pistol butt or with the rifle stock. To actually fire, right-click must be held and to zoom in fully (aim down scope), players must also hit 'Shift' on the keyboard. It's an unnecessarily complex way to simply shoot and given what's out there on the market, it feels lacking not being able to lean left or right like in PUBG or Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege. It's all too slow and the feedback isn't strong enough to know or feel the impact of landing a shot.
The meta layer of the gameplay progression involves an incredibly slow grind at the moment to level up just to unlock basic gear to buy to loadout hunters and since dying is the norm, having to restart with low-level hunters nearly every match, this is just too much of a barrier and is an immediate turn-off. I don't even want to think about how many hours it'll take to unlock some basics guns.
We don't know yet if there will be many maps and we don't know if gameplay changes up beyond following waypoints (clues) using the game's Dark Sight (think black and white vision mode) to the final boss(es) every time, but we're curious what will keep players playing repeatedly if there's this much grind and this slow of gameplay. For players familiar with this genre, many aspects of the core structure of the game are similar to Escape from Tarkov by Battlestate Games but that's a modern-set game with way more focus on inventory and whose enemies are humans.
The best aspect of the Hunt: Showdown closed alpha is its atmosphere and co-op play so at this point in time, we'd appreciate a straight-up co-op mode with more players rather than just two-player with the hope of finding enemies. The thrill of not knowing is essential however, but long-term fun cannot be had from repeated failure in a slow-paced game such as this. It's more punishing than rewarding and that will hinder its growth and explains why influences have been so quick to bounce off the closed alpha after a single play session.
The potential here however, is very promising. Once players have access to the in-game offerings and as gameplay is refined and fleshed out, there's something that can be amazing here. Crytek should aim to speed up the entire process, replace progression grind with more content, and give players more co-op modes, and ride the game's unique nature to the top.
Note: In its current form, we've not been able to get into matches solo or with other random players most of the time we tried over this weekend. Crytek is currently sending out invites for more players and have seemingly had server load issues as of late (part of testing). We'll update as we test the game after each patch.
Hunt: Showdown Tips & Tricks
Patience is the key to success in Hunt: Showdown. Once you find the den of a boss like the Butcher, hang out with your partner in nearby bushes and wait for other players to approach. Remember, everyone in the match has the same objective so there will be other players. You can either wait for them to approach or wait for them to begin attacking the boss before ambushing them.
There's currently no real reward for taking out other players (no special loot or unlocks, etc.) so this is something Crytek needs to address, but taking out other players is key to your own safety.
As for boss fights, these larger enemies as we said up top are bullet sponges, but they also aren't too mobile in that they can't leave their den. If you can lure them near the entrance/exit, you can unload all of your ammunition from safety. Each boss has an immunity (for the buther, it's fire for instance) so knowing these will help you choose which consumable throwables you should bring, These are great for inflicting maximum damage on bounties so use these from afar as well.
Crytek provided a closed alpha code for us to try the Hunt: Showdown closed alpha.