I’ve always had my suspicions with every trailer released for this game, but given there’s a demo for Predator: Hunting Grounds, I was ready to give it the benefit of the doubt. If you’re curious about my time spent with the demo and what it felt like, read on for our Predator Hunting Grounds demo impressions! Being upfront here, the demo has proven to me that Predator: Hunting Grounds is far from ready for next month’s release.
Lets cut to the chase: This trial demo of Predator: Hunting Grounds is an absolute mess. Outside of the long queue times that Illfonic has already confirmed to be working on, the game is plagued with a plethora of issues. Matches are laggy, the framerate dropping, graphical bugs in a not so demanding title, T-pose enemies, balancing, awkward traversal, and more. There is just too much going wrong to comfortably say it’s ready for launch.
Online Connectivity and Balancing Issues
The lack of dedicated servers in favor of peer-to-peer connection really hurts it for being an online-focused game. Being in the US, it’s easy to tell when you are connecting to someone from the other side of the world. Ping levels are significantly higher for everyone but the host, and if they have a bad connection or happen to just be a world away, well, expect lag — plenty of it. We found ourselves constantly being placed in these bad connected rooms, with pings averaging between 50 – 100 for the host, and ours soaring as high as 300 in matches at times. And to make the experience even more frustrating, on top of laggy players, the NPCs that spawned during objectives would also experience the very same lag that the host was having. PvP mixed with PvE elements is just a disaster if you build it around a peer-to-peer connection.
Even when we did manage to get into a room where our ping was considerably low, the game itself suffered from massive frame-rate drops. On the Predator side of things, this was seen mostly around the crucial parts such as climbing trees or encountering enemy soldiers. However, the soldiers had it worse as simply just sprinting would cause jitters and it was easier to run into more bugs due to the NPC’s spawning in objective zones. The frames would constantly dip from the soldier’s perspective, making it just unbearable at times.
Let’s talk about balance. Innocently enough, there wasn’t a whole lot wrong when I first started. Some games I’d win as the Predator, others as a soldier. For the time, it seemed pretty even as long as I played smart. However, because the matchmaking system doesn’t have any kind of filtering, such as by levels, you could easily find yourself in some pretty unfair situations. While the first day of the beta was met with frustrating long queue times, the second day showcased some major level disadvantage. I found myself getting into matches with my lowly level below 10, against players that were maxed beta rank, which I believed this was at 22.
As a soldier, going against the Predator felt as much as it should feel — underpowered despite having numbers on my side. Some may see that as a bad thing, but I enjoyed that part since it was in line with how it has always been in the films. Playing smart gets you through it all. It’s when I got control of the Predator as a low level going against the higher ranks that proved problematic. The grenade launcher is extremely overpowered and playing as the Predator shouldn’t make the player feel scared of its target. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so unbalanced in my life as the grenade launcher in Hunting Grounds, as not only does it stagger the Predator and other enemies, but it also has an obnoxious explosion effect. Dealing with one is pretty bad, but confronting a whole team with them? Well, just watch this video (not ours) down below and tell me what you think.
Does that honestly look fun to anyone? I know it certainly wasn’t for me. It also makes the objectives that players are tasked with completing a bit more pointless if they can quickly win the match by ridding it of the main threat.
So What Did I Like?
You know, if these issues weren’t so consistent and the game played buttery smooth, I think this would be a great title overall. I found the Predator gameplay to capture what one could expect from playing as the Predator. In fact, I’d be more than happy with what they did with the gameplay for the Predator if it were featured in a full-length single-player game. He’s loaded with weapons, has the iconic thermal vision, is extremely fast and terrifying. Basically, everything the original Predator was. It’s damn near perfect. And this here is where developers Illfonic truly shine, as while their previous title, Friday the 13th: The Game, was also pretty buggy, they offered a fine amount of details that stayed true to the source material. The same is here, and I even found myself chuckling at some of the callbacks, such as the memorable handshake scene or the Predator self-destructing. That last bit could use some changing though as I would have preferred it if players couldn’t disarm (don’t ask how they can) it but were instead pitted against time to escape the radius zone.
I feel there is a lot to still like in terms of details that any Predator fan will appreciate, it’s just that in its current state the game is clearly not ready. The bugs presented in the trial build most likely won’t be ironed out in the 20 odd days till launch. And unless this build was one from months back, we anticipate a very rough launch that will most likely see a very small community to accompany it.