PAX West 2019: In Predator: Hunting Grounds — Only the Strongest Will Get to the Chopper
Insomniac's Spider-Man really makes you feel like the webslinger. Arkham Asylum really makes you feel like the caped crusader. Marvel's Avengers makes you feel like Thor.
At the risk of sounding cliche, Predator: Hunting Grounds really makes you feel like the predator — or at least, I assume it does. Having played it at PAX West 2019 as one of the jungle soldiers, I experienced really feeling like my guts were being swiftly removed from my stomach.
The predator is fast, fearsome, and formidable, and just like Illfonic's other asynchronous multiplayer game, Friday The 13th, it feels like the developer may have cultivated a special breed of multiplayer gaming.
Loading out as a four-person contingent of commandos, my PAX West team headed into the jungle armed to the teeth. Each of us chose one of the several classes of soldier available; I went for the Scout class, which packs an SMG and has increased mobility at the cost of some vitality.
It's usually a tradeoff I'm happy to make, but minutes later, I found myself wondering if that extra speed would have ever really made a difference against the eponymous hunter.
What Predator: Hunting Grounds does well is pacing. There are no illusions that someone is out there playing as the camouflaged creature, hunting you down, waiting to strike. But since you don't know when that stalking player will attack, you must carry on with your mission schlepping that creeping weight.
Each mission is meant to be multi-faceted and move you from place to place within a small hub; complete all the objectives and eventually, ahem, "get to de choppa!"
But that is so much easier said than done. The predator is a killing machine, just like it is in the movies. While you're distracted with time-sensitive objectives and firing back at enemy AI soldiers, the king of the jungle will eventually make its appearance. And when it does, things get scary — fast.
These signature moments highlighted my demo. Second by second, I could feel the creature getting closer; I could tell my team was getting eviscerated by the hunter. It was all the more reason to push forward, to not stop and watch it happen.
Strangely, I felt like a Wall Street executive shredding documents as the FBI banged on the door. My attempts felt futile, but in my haste, there was no better option but to continue on.
Eventually, I was the only teammate still completing objectives, amazed that the predator hadn't come for me yet. I spotted a downed teammate. I hurried to revive them, and then, as I got them to their feet, it happened. Like something straight out of the movies, the predator launched its forearm blade directly into his chest, killing him instantly.
It was terrifying and awesome at once. We couldn't have scripted it any better.
From there, it picked us off, one by one, almost feeling as if it was toying with us. We didn't make it to the helicopter, and few did at PAX. Time will tell if the monster needs to be nerfed, but for now, it felt like poor teamplay was the mechanism of our failure — and that's how it should be.
For more impressions from PAX West 2019, be sure to head over to our PAX West 2019 hub.