Predator: Hunting Grounds Preview - Asymmetrical cat and mouse

Published: 17:42, 07 January 2020
Key art for Predator: Hunting Grounds.
The first proper Predator game since 2005. And no. We don't count the mobile ones.

Predator: Hunting Grounds has enormous freedom to carve its own corner in the videogame space, following years of woeful mobile spin offs and a complete lack of mainline titles. This franchise is ripe for reinvention, and developer Illfonic are bringing the goods.

It's one thing to make a licensed game that defeats the stereotypical assumption that it will likely be dreadful. 

Throw into that melting pot of pre-baked criticism a highly revered series, a dearth of quality releases, and its position as a console exclusive to PS4, and you'd be hard pressed to set expectations any higher. Still, despite the hurdles, Predator: Hunting Grounds is shaping up to be a fresh and interesting spin on asymmetric multiplayer, where balance and customisation are defining tenants.

Developer Illfonic's reverence for the source material is evident in spades; the various tools of destruction available to players jumping into the boots of the cloaked menace represent specific nods to the film franchise and are absolutely faithful to what you'd expect. 

Bows, wrist blades, and shoulder mounted weaponry are all present and accounted for, and with character variants that tailor perks to your playstyle, there's something here for everyone. You can beef up your damage absorption, or trade off some health for a speed boost. Then of course there's the visual customisation, which extends to your chosen mask so your predator of choice is very much a reflection of your preferred murderous aesthetic. 

One interesting titbit is the mix of third and first person action; the former for when you're playing as a Predator, for maximum situational awareness, and the latter when you're in the boots of a human solider.

Illfonic The Predator targets his prey in Predator: Hunting Grounds. Specsavers are being much too aggressive with their laser eye surgery promotion...

The key here is differentiation, making each side of the asymmetric mechanics feel distinct and attuned to what you'd expect from each respective character. Predator's can get up close and personal, but ranged combat is absolutely a viable option. Tree's can be scaled, and targets picked off from afar. 

Meanwhile, the boots on the ground (videogame cliche alert!) have all manner of other human A.I. threats to contend with, and objectives that go beyond "murder that Predator". Stealth in combat is certainly an option on either side of the aisle, with the Predator able to deploy light refracting tech to vanish from sight, while the other team can dispatch foes silently if they wish. 

This all speaks to a level of choice not always found in multiplayer only titles, and considering the scale of Illfonic's ambition, there's little reason to doubt that this will come together. 

Early looks suggest a title still very much in the polishing stage, with decent environmental detail but an inconsistent framerate that will hopefully be ironed out in time for launch. In any case, Predator: Hunting Grounds offers a rock solid foundation with heaps of promise. 

Illfonic A squad prepares to strike in Predator: Hunting Grounds. My sincerest apologies Commander, but... I'd like to pick a different assignment.

Predator: Hunting Grounds launches on 24th April 2020, for PS4, and PC. 

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