There are few sci-fi action movies as iconic as the original Predator. Perhaps it’s the nostalgia of seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger during his prime or the mystery behind the original Yautja, but regardless the film left its mark on Hollywood and has since spawned various sequels and crossovers. Now gamers have received Predator: Hunting Grounds, a multiplayer-only game which seeks to capture the feeling of the original movie. Sadly, the title doesn’t quite live up to the hype.
Predator: Hunting Grounds is a 4 vs. 1 asymmetric online multiplayer shooter where players can choose to play in a 4-man special operations unit known as Fireteam Voodoo or take on the role of the titular Predator. There is no single-player campaign apart from a short tutorial, though hidden throughout the multiplayer maps are collectible audio tapes. These reveal lore and explain what’s happened in the Predator universe since the events of the first film. Unfortunately the audio tapes are almost impossible to find – over the course of ten hours I only came across two of them – so it’s a feature that many players will probably not get to fully enjoy. At least, not until YouTube recordings do the rounds on the internet.
During matches Fireteam Voodoo players are dropped into the jungle and tasked with storming enemy compounds and completing various objectives such as killing a traitor, hacking satellite systems to collect intel and destroying drug labs. These missions mostly involve running from Checkpoint A to Checkpoint C while fighting AI soldiers that hinder your progress. The AI lacks any sort of challenge and really just runs around shooting blindly at you, but it also offers the perfect distraction for the Predator player to come in and strike during the mayhem. It’s a battle of survival as the squad must not only complete their objectives but also overcome the threat of the Predator. You can expect traditional FPS controls here, complete with the ability to switch between main and secondary weapons, throw grenades and drop health packs to support teammates. Weapons available to Fireteam players include assault rifles, pistols, shotguns and sniper rifles. You can also cover yourself in mud to escape the watchful gaze of the Predator.
The Predator is the main star of the game and is on the hunt for humans; the ultimate prey. Players can use the Predator’s thermal vision skill to spot Fireteam members in the thick of the jungle, detect sound vibrations and use camouflage to mask their approach. You can also climb trees and leap onto branches to cover ground quickly. Eventually you will unlock some of the Predator’s fancier arsenal such as netting, bear traps and wrist blades which will make you a force to be reckoned with. There’s always a sense of danger whenever the Predator player is close by – their audible clicks and roars often see Fireteam players flee in terror or look on with a heavy dose of caution, only to panic when they see the beast’s laser sight beam through the jungle vegetation. If somehow you are defeated, you will have an opportunity to activate your self-destruct device and quite literally get the last laugh.
The core game idea is there and works pretty well, but after only a few hours repetition sets in. There are only three maps available featuring areas such as a train yard, weed farm, ancient pyramid and a fishing village. However, because of the jungle setting everything looks too similar and there is not enough variety to keep the game feeling fresh. You also begin to realise that the Predator is not quite the mighty beast you have come to love from the movies. An organised Fireteam squad merely has to stick together as the Predator will always struggle when being shot at by all four players simultaneously. When the Predator player is aggressive, approaches with stealth, sets traps and knows when to retreat, matches are legitimately intense and thrilling. If you’re going up against a novice or someone who is AFK then the game is just a mediocre shooter.
Another thing that hurts Predator: Hunting Grounds is its progression system. There are numerous weapons, gadgets and special skills (such as the aforementioned Predator gadgets) that unlock as you gain experience. But most of the particularly exciting gadgets don’t begin unlocking until you hit around level 25 or so. By then the repetition has already set in and many players will have gotten bored and moved on to other games. Aside from this, there’s plenty of cosmetic items that can be unlocked via loot crates or in-game money. Overall there’s really just a lack of content to keep players engaged. Hopefully future updates will add more content to keep the online community active.
Predator: Hunting Grounds features crossplay support between both the PS4 and PC versions. A majority of matches that I joined featured predominantly PS4 players but occasionally some PC players joined in. At the time of review it was easy to join matches, taking no longer than 30-60 seconds if you had no preference as to who you played as or opted to play in the Fireteam squad. However, those wanting to play exclusively as the Predator had to endure wait times of 5 minutes or longer. After completing a match, the game sends you back to the title screen where you have to enter matchmaking all over again. It would have been more user friendly if you could opt to keep playing with the same group.
For the purpose of this review I played Predator: Hunting Grounds on a PS4 base console. Textures are rough, there are noticeable frame rate drops and overall the game just isn’t as visually appealing as other titles available on the system. This is likely due to the amount of vegetation that appears in the jungle, with many of the leaves and branches interactive as they react to touch and damage. It’s reported the game runs smoother on the PS4 Pro system, but PC players with high spec machines are the real winners with smoother performance and enhanced visuals.
Predator: Hunting Grounds does have a viable concept that appeals directly to fans of the franchise. Unfortunately, the lack of overall content, poor optimisation for the PS4 system, lacklustre AI, repetition and questionable design choices means the title just doesn’t stack up against other shooters on the market.
- Concept will appeal to fans - Predator is menacing - Crossplay multiplayer between PS4 and PC
- Lack of content - Lacklustre AI - Rough graphical textures - Frame rate issues