On paper a game featuring one of the most iconic movie monsters in recent history sounds great. Whether Predator: Hunting Grounds has been able to deliver on that promise is another question altogether.
There are a lot of things at play here in this new title, but somehow they don’t quite come together in a seamless experience that leaves you wanting more.
Having recently played Hunting Grounds on the PlayStation 4 (it’s available on PC too), let us explain what we mean.
The idea behind Predator:Hunting Grounds seemingly takes inspiration from different elements in other titles. Yes, of course the main antagonist (or protagonist depending on how you look at things) is the Predator, but the work behind this title features a mishmash of different elements.
When we first saw the trailer for this title a few months ago, we immediately began thinking of Evolve, the 2K-developed monster hunting game that leaned heavily on 4v1 gameplay.
And in many respects, the same thing applies here. There isn’t necessarily the 4v1 element, but it is very much a case of hunt or be hunted.
What Hunting Grounds does expertly then, is make you want to play as the Predator. Sure, the co-op element of playing as a soldier being hunted can be fun, but the real enjoyment of this title is playing as the big bad.
Sadly, developer IllFonic does not lean heavily enough into it if you ask us.
If we’re being honest, we wanted hunting in the game to be similar to the Batman Arkham missions which involved the Caped Crusader swinging from perch to perch as he picked off enemies. Predator: Hunting Grounds has some of these elements, but not all of them.
What we did love though is the intuitiveness with which the different Predator classes (there are three of them – Scout, Hunter and Berserker) moved. Climbing large trees and jumping from branch to branch feels fluid. The camera work while moving also gives to a good idea of the strength of the character, as it shakes and vibrates every now then.
The developers have also found a way to incorporate much of the Predator lore and technology into the gameplay, particularly as it pertains to earning rewards and upgrades to the gear you use while hunting. The more challenging a hunting excursion is, the more you’ll need to gear up effectively.
These elements only go so far, and ultimately, there simply aren’t enough interesting elements to keep you engaged with what his happening on-screen.
We can kill it
Where the most “fun” is to be had lies with the soldiers. Working in a co-op mission such us the Get To The Chopper ones with clearly defined objectives and parameters really plays well into a multiplayer setup.
With the right kind of team work, it is also relatively easy to take down a Predator as well. Whether this is part of the game mechanics or simply a case of under-powering the Predator, we think the focus is a misstep here.
The Predator should be where all the action is. It should also be stated that Predators are often hunting solo and competing against one another, unless a Xenomorph is added to the mix, so having a rival Predator you were going up against would have been a great idea in our opinion.
The limited choice of environments and small sandbox is something that needs to be touched on too. The Batman Arkham game have similarly small areas when it comes to its hunting missions, but there are so many different ways to hide, sneak up on and take out enemies, with bonuses added the more inventive they are.
You can set traps in Hunting Grounds, and immobilise soldiers, but there simply is not enough variety to way that hunts can happen.
Only fans of the Predator movie franchise will get any joy out of this game, with a number of better and more popular co-op or multiplayer titles available at the moment.
Much like the ill-fated Aliens: Colonial Marines game of 2013, which tried to go for a similar premise, but failed to deliver solid gameplay, Predator: Hunting Grounds simply does not bring enough to the table.
Even at its currently listed price of R629 on the PlayStation Store, there is not enough on offer here to feel like bang for your buck. We really wanted to enjoy this game, but it did not live up to the promise.