2021 was the year I fell in love with Hunt: Showdown

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Hope this isn’t the first time someone has told you that you should really give Hunt: Showdown a try. My colleague Jacob said it on this site almost a year ago, and at the time I didn’t listen. It’s one of those games that you always hear to be good but feels too hard or complicated to get into. Hunt can be quite difficult, but it’s also fun, rewarding, and produces incredibly tense firefights with weapons that look and sound absurdly good.

I played over 180 hours of Hunt in the second half of 2021. Most of those hours were with a friend or two, much of it unforgivable hours on a work night. Hunt is so great, which is why I mainly hung up my most played game of all time: Rainbow Six Siege.

Along with Escape From Tarkov, Hunt is part of a burgeoning PvPvE genre that doesn’t have a name yet (I think “raid games” would do well). You might recognize the format of Battlefield 2042’s Danger Zone mode – it borrows a lot of ideas from Hunt. It’s not free, but it gets frequent discounts on its $ 40 price tag (it’s only $ 20 right now). Here’s the gist:

  • It’s a bit like a battle royale, but no circle forces players in one direction.
  • Loadouts are purchased with in-game money before matchmaking. You can bring two guns, med kits and other ancillary gadgets
  • While there is looting, additional weapons are scarce unless you kill another player and steal their things.
  • You can fight other players, but your main objective is to find monsters, kill them and extract them with bounty tokens to earn a lot of XP and money.
  • Players can check out designated boats and cars at any time during a match. The maximum duration of the match is 1 hour

Crossfire

My favorite part of Hunt is his 19th century guns which range from Old West classics like the Colt Single Action Army revolver to absurd guns that have kind of existed like the whaler’s bomb spear, which is a part spear, part of slingshot of dynamite. It is also interesting to use famous guns that hardly ever appear in video games, like the Lemat: a revolver that is also a shotgun. One of my favorites is the Specter, a peculiar top-loaded shotgun that riffs on one of the first pump shotguns made in real life, the Spencer 1882. One of the first shotguns with a weird action. is a detail that can only be interesting if you’ve watched too many forgotten gun videos, but it’s clear that Crytek has a genuine affinity for the cool guns in history.

Because everything in Hunt is a fatal blow to the head and everyone is holding either a Civil War breech-loading rifle or a six-shot rifle that takes 15 seconds to reload, you end up with a lot of stealth encounters. which break out into disjointed duels. The shootings are disorderly. There are a lot of gaps on both sides as players desperately seek to line up their shots without staying still for too long. Like in battle royale games, there’s a layer of strategy for picking the right fights and approaching compounds from the best angle, but the lack of a circle means you’re not being forced into adverse conditions by a layer. random.

Guns are what ultimately decides most fights, but in a spirit similar to Rainbow Six Siege, I like how a cheap, last-minute gadget purchase (like barbed wire traps or a mason jar full of angry bees) can turn the tide of a confrontation.

Here’s a recent example of an encounter that could only have happened in Hunt:

The other day, during a game, a friend and I were looking for a sawmill when he suddenly fell dead from a crossbow bolt. My friend didn’t hear where the shot was coming from, but his death screen revealed that his killer was only a few feet away. I was outside the building where this happened, wondering how to approach this crouching crossbowman. I had a pair of handguns that did well up close, but entering a building someone is defending is always a risk in Hunt – I could walk through wire-traps or bear traps.

I decided to squeeze in, crouch down, and be careful not to step on broken glass or disturb the hanging cans. After a few minutes, I had crept up to the second floor and heard the footsteps of the crossbowman below me. I think I would have the best chance of getting my shots if I make this guy walk in me instead of the other way around, so I pulled out a bag of blank fire decoys and threw a ball out of a nearby window. When he landed on the road, he perfectly imitated the sound of a gunshot. The sudden commotion prompted the crossbow enemy to crouch down the stairs next to me to investigate. I was waiting at the perfect angle when he entered my field of vision, and a shot in the noggin knocked him down. It was the kind of piece you wanted to proudly display on the fridge.

Small wins are hard earned in Hunt, in part because its format lets you decide what a win is. Tracking down a boss, killing him, and leaving with his bounty is a big boon, but it doesn’t always happen.

Sometimes opposing players kill a boss first and quickly escape. Other times our team went into one fight early on, barely won, and decided to retreat immediately instead of going into another with fewer med kits. We once had at least four fun games in a 40-minute Alamo-style showdown against a team of trained snipers on our windows (they killed us). Another time a team of better players chose me and my friend negotiated a truce with them via voice chat. We escaped with our lives. A few times we even killed all the players on the server.

When enjoyed with friends, Hunt is one of those games that seems to magically create special moments. I think I’ll never forget the night we were stuck between two squads on a bridge and I had this improbable portrait with a pistol, or the night my friend and I spotted an enemy and we miraculously shot him at the at exactly the same time.

Unrecognized praise

Like Jacob a year ago, I’ve now become that guy who passionately wants to talk to more people about Hunt. Its player base is a drop in the bucket compared to battle royale behemoths like Apex Legends or Call of Duty: Warzone, and yet it’s path better than both.

That’s good, in all respects Hunt is an ongoing success for Crytek. Three years of updates have added new weapons, tools, bosses, and maps. In 2021, he had a new record of 32,000 simultaneous players. If this was a battle royale game with 60-150 players per game, numbers this low would likely mean boring wait times, but Hunt fits all the thrills of battle royale in a lobby. economical with 12 players.

I think a lot about Hunt’s modest popularity. In an age where a popular Twitch streamer can propel obscure multiplayer games to instant stardom, it’s odd Hunt hasn’t had its time in the sun. It happened for Apex this year and for Tarkov (Hunt’s closest neighbor) last year, so why not Hunt? Old-fashioned guns may be the culprit, or maybe its dismal art style puts gamers off.

Maybe Hunt is just too weird to stand out, and I’m starting to believe it’s for the best. Right now, the Hunt community is a relatively small bunch who quietly enjoy the game and post some cool fan art on Reddit. Cheaters are rare and toxicity is low. An explosion of players would definitely change that, and I’m not convinced that the theoretical benefits of popularity (adding more cosmetics and weapons, I guess?) Are worth it.

So yes, go play Hunt! Tell your friends! You can be that cool person playing weird cowboy game with zombies. Maybe don’t tell everyone you know.

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