With the popularity of Fortnite, Player Unknown’s Battle Grounds, Realm Royale and the countless of pre-existing IPs introducing a Battle Royale mode, it’s hard to find one which truly does something different. Hunt: Showdown, however, isn’t at its core a battle royale; to me, at least. Hunt: Showdown is a PvPvE (Player vs Player vs Environment) game, where ten Players are brought into either the swamps of Louisiana or the town of Lawson Delta and given the task of killing the boss(es) on the map for their bounty. Once the player(s) kill the boss(es) & banish the target, they can pick up their well-earned bounty and can then either kill the remaining boss or attempt to leave the map with their reward, the catch here is that when carrying a bounty, everyone still alive on the map can see your location, meaning they know where to go if they want to steal your hard-earned bounty. Hunt: Showdown is a high-risk high-reward game, with the death of your character meaning they are permanently killed and when your character dies you only gain half the XP they attained in their lifetime. The XP they earned is then paid into your “Bloodline Rank” which is your account rank, this is used to unlock better Hunters, Weapons, Gear and Perks. Hunt: Showdown is visually a miserable game, there are no fantastical colours, very few things in-game to be happy about other than putting down another hunter or finding a cash register with $500 in it. This miserable dryness works exceptionally well for Hunt, its atmosphere is heavy and oppressive, every little sound can be an indicator as to whether you’re being stalked by another Hunter who is laying in wait for the opportune moment to pull the trigger and take you out.
Tools of destruction
In the world of Hunt: Showdown there is a variety of different ways to kill your opposition and if it’s looking like you aren’t going to win a fight? You might as well leave the rival team with some scars; set them on fire and make them an easier target for the next guys, poison them and get a few last-minute hits in before they kill you or even just blindly thrown some dynamite.
The gun in your hand is a tool of damage and destruction, so it’s a good idea you learn how to wield it effectively it. There are two different kinds of damage: Weapon Damage and ‘Damage Types’ as I call them.
Weapon damage is the sort of damage your weapon will do, naturally, a hammer or a gunbutt will deal blunt damage, while a stab from the Cavalry Sabre or a shot from a revolver will do piercing. The three types of Weapon Damage are listed below.
- Blunt weapon damage can be dealt with almost every weapon in the game as this is attributed to gun butts, punches, knuckle dusters and sledgehammers.
- Piercing damage is capable of going through various walls, armour and players. Piercing damage can be dealt by knives, bayonets & cavalry sabres, as well as a number of Rifles.
- Rending damage can directly cause the Bleeding damage type, making weapons with this effect particularly bothersome to deal with. Rending damage can be caused by the Cavalry Sabre & Machete, Shotguns & a select few rifles. Bombs such as the Concertina Bomb and Frag Bomb may also cause Bleeding damage.
Damage types are different from Weapon Damage and can even occur naturally in the world. Bleeding can be caused by minions with cleavers, fire can be caused by walking into open flames and poison can be received by a Hive’s wasps. These damage types also have different effects on the player.
- When a Hunter deals bleeding damage, the recipient of the damage will begin to continually lose health until they are downed/killed. This damage type can be stopped by holding F. If a player is stopping a bleeding wound, they can only move during the process.
- Burning damage occurs when the player comes into contact with an open flame, be it from a molotov cocktail being thrown at them or a mob hitting them with a flaming weapon. Burning is mechanically similar to bleeding, except it permanently damages the recipients Maximum Health. A player who dies from burning damage cannot be revived.
- Unlike Bleeding or Burning damage, Poison doesn’t have a damage-over-time effect, instead, it prevents the afflicted from healing. The poison effect can be negated with an antidote shot or waiting for it to wear off. Poison also distorts the afflicted’s vision, making it harder to see.
On top of these damage types, there’s also the impact of a bullets maximum travel and speed, compact rounds travel slower than medium or long rounds. I’m not going to pretend like I know what I’m talking about so you can find the information on the Hunt: Showdown Wikia if you’d like to read more about how bullet drop works in Hunt: Showdown.
The Sound of Silence
In the 113 hours I have played of Hunt: Showdown, no sense has been more important to me than hearing. If you’ve played CS:GO, you’ll be very familiar with listening out for footsteps around corners and blind spots. Hunt: Showdown takes this concept and doubles it, every little sound can be indicative of a rival hunters presence: The dogs barking in the distance, doors opening across the yard, cans being stepped on and kicked about, the creak of the floorboards above and even an ambusher putting his rifle away to unsheathe his machete, ready to strike. Playing Hunt: Showdown can sometimes feel as though you’re a deer in the fog, with only your ears to guide your way to safety. Assuming the Hunter misses the first shot.
This reliance on sound helps solidify the atmosphere of Hunt Showdown as you’re constantly listening out for any signs of rival Hunters, Bosses in their lairs or even some Mobs such as the screeches of the Meathead’s leeches, the wails of a Hive and even the heart-wrenching cry of the Waterdevils. Every mob in the game has its own unique set of sounds to give Players another way of identifying what sort of mob just spotted them or another hunter.
Hunt Showdown’s core game mode is one I’ve already discussed in the opening of this article, ten players, one boss, three clues. The gameplay is rather simple when you boil it down, but it does things differently to other games in its genre. Hunt’s FPS mechanics are designed to make every action you take have feedback and weight, to even hip-fire you have to hold down the RMB (Right Mouse Button), to aim precisely you have to hold RMB then press Shift. This design makes everything you do feel as though you’re doing it with some kind of intent and adds a feeling of weight to each bullet you fire. Reloading is also something that has to be done manually, as attempting to fire your weapon when out of bullets will greet you with that heart-stopping metallic click of the firing mechanism.
Hunt: Showdown currently only has two bosses at the time of writing – Spider & Butcher – I’m not going to post any images or footage of these bosses, because their designs are truly a treat for the eyes when you see them in-game for the first time and their audio design gives them both a very unique presence in the environment. The Spider is a fast, ambusher which prefers to run along the walls and ceiling of its lair while spitting poison at players and then pouncing on them in an attack reminiscent of certain predatory arachnids.
The butcher is a bigger, slower enemy who will chase and attack the player(s) while occasionally rushing the player to engage them with a high-damage strike. After a certain health threshold has been hit, the Butcher will begin to throw flammables, further increasing the risk-factor by setting players and the environment alight, this means chipping away from a players maximum health pool if they get caught in the flames, thanks to fire damage.
Rise up, dead man
Hunt: Showdown has recently introduced a second game mode titled Quickplay, Quickplay is a faster-paced gunslinging game mode that gives Players a free hunter and throws them into the Lousiana Bayou. Unlike the original game mode, this mode tasks players with “saving their soul” by absorbing the energy of ‘the wellspring’. I think the implication here is that the hunters in Quickplay have died and are now fighting for their right to return to life, but the Lore in Hunt: Showdown is pretty secretive, which only really improves the atmosphere of the game because everything essentially comes down to “What the fuck is that?”.
I haven’t played much of Quickplay, but from what I can tell from my dabbling, the general idea is to either absorb all the energy in the Wellspring or be the Last Man Standing in the match. Around the map are Rifts, which function similar to clues in the sense that they reveal the location of the objective, however, with each Rift you pick up (at a maximum of four rifts) you will unlock a new trait for that character. These traits seem to be selected based on a tier system (first rift = low-tier clue with an incremental increase throughout that match for each rift found) but admittedly I’m not all that invested into Quickplay. It’s a faster and more chaotic game mode than I look for in Hunt: Showdown, but props to everyone who enjoys it.
If Hunt: Showdown sounds like your kind of thing, maybe consider giving it a buy over on Steam for £25.99/$33/€28.84.