With the start of the serpent moon event last week, Hunt: Showdown developer Crytek announced that they reached an all-time record of 38,802 concurrent players on Steam. hunt can be a very ruthless game that’s intimidating to new players, but my recent experience learning the ins and outs has been one of the most engrossing experiences I’ve had in a long time.
There’s a lot going on in the game, but with a little advice you can be well on your way to being able to hold your own in the infested Bayou of Hunt.
WHAT IS HUNT: SHOWDOWN?
Each match of hunt drops groups of one to three people on a large map, with everyone trying to track down target boss monsters (either one or two depending on the map) to kill them and extract with their bounty. In order to narrow down the location of these creatures, players find clues scattered about the level. Find three clues and the location of the monster is placed on your map. During your hunt, you’ll come into conflict with other monsters of varying threat levels, as well as other groups of players vying for the same bounty you are. Once the boss is killed, players must banish it before the bounty becomes available. Banishing puts a marker on everyone’s map so everyone knows that your location is a place of interest. When the bounties are available after banishing, they need to be taken to an extraction point. While you are holding a bounty, everyone else will be able to track you on the map. The bounty is dropped on death, so a mix of speed and caution is necessary for a successful extraction.
Prior to entering a match, you’ll kit out your character (recruited from a pool of randomly generated characters or ones you’ve purchased) with a variety of weapons and tools to give you a fighting chance. If your character dies in a match, they are gone forever, along with any gear they had. If they survive, you’ll get some upgrade points that can be spent on abilities, allowing you to tailor your upgrades to a playstyle of your choosing. Even though there is permadeath for your characters, there is a series of unlocks that you will progress through with experience gained on each hunt, unlocking new weapons and upgrades for you to utilize. Using specific weapons will also unlock variations on the gun, as well as different ammo types. There are also a couple bonuses available on a daily basis, letting you get some quick rewards for gaining a certain amount of experience in a day. Even if you end up getting killed on your mission (which will happen a lot), there’s always some amount of progress being made.
TIPS FOR BEGINNERS
1) SOUND IS KEY
Hunt: Showdown is an incredibly moody game. The silence of the 1890s Louisiana bayou can be shattered by the barking of hellhounds or the crack of a gunshot, so learning how to not only make less noise but effectively track audio cues is one of the biggest components of the game.
When taking out simple enemies try to use quiet weapons (bows, melee or silenced guns) to keep from alerting other players to your presence. Keep your eyes on the environment as well, as things like birds, glass or horses will make noise that could ruin your approach.
At the same time, be sure to listen for these things as well. The sound design in this game is incredible and best experienced with a pair of headphones so you can pick up directions of the sound’s source. One of the most satisfying moments I had in the game was when I perfectly paid attention to sound cues and stayed quiet effectively. I was creeping through the woods and heard some ducks flying away. I knew ducks meant water, so I started going towards the nearby river, only to hear someone walking through the water. I could tell by the sound that there were two of them, so I hid in a bush at a distance with my bow. Suddenly, I heard bees buzzing, which meant they were fighting a hive creature, and one of them dropped back to heal. I dropped him without a sound from my hiding spot and drew my bow again. The dead player’s partner had no idea where I was since I used a bow, so he approached his fallen friend to try to revive him, giving me the opportunity to take him out too. This wasn’t a case of me being better in a duel, just paying attention and figuring out the best way to keep my advantage over my opponents.
2) LEARN THE TOOLS OF THE TRADE
As you progress, the number of tools you have at your disposal can become overwhelming. These break down into weapons, tools and consumables, and it’s important to find a loadout that works for you. Weapons come in a variety of pistols, shotguns and rifles, all well balanced with different ammo capacity, reload rate, damage and effective range. I personally try to make sure they complement each other so I’m ready for any situation. You’ll probably want to have at least one weapon that’s quiet, so you can take out NPC enemies without drawing attention, and you probably don’t want to have both weapons be single shot, as reloading is dangerous in a fast-paced firefight . Same goes for distance vs up close. Don’t stick to the same weapons all the time, try them all to see what combos work best for you while continuing to unlock more.
Tools and consumables can also make or break a match. Despite the fact that you can find med kits in the level, you don’t want to enter a game without at least some form of healing item for when you’re pinned down and wounded. Other important equipment can be melee items (great for taking out smaller monsters without wasting valuable ammo), explosives that can be used for big damage or area control, and decoy weapons that can be used to mimic the sound of a player to keep your opponent guessing as to where you are. Keep mixing these up to ensure that you’re continuing down the unlock progression, as some of the higher level tools can be extremely useful.
3) KNOW YOUR ENEMY
Creatures scattered around the world are more like environmental hazards than difficult encounters, but that doesn’t mean they are a pushover. The standard grunts are fairly easy to handle, while more advanced creatures definitely require some thought in how you approach them, so it’s important to learn the proper strategies. Being prepared with the proper information is the key to getting through them easily, so study up. Meatheads ‘see’ through the leeches that follow them. The hive’s head is on the side of its body. And whatever you do, don’t stab an immolator, use something blunt like brass knuckles instead.
Bosses are a bit tougher, but are still manageable as long as you know the best approach for each. Once you find their lair, you’re in for some of the longest, most protracted fights hunt have to offer, so be sure you’re stocked up. There will be equipment around the lair to provide free heals, ammo or explosives, but you’ll still want to go in ready. There’s a wonderful monster manual in the game that unlocks as you play, full of intriguing lore and info about strengths and weaknesses, so be sure to take a look. Don’t forget to keep your head on a swivel while fighting the boss; it may be the time that another group decides to try to take you out while you’re distracted.
4) KNOW WHEN TO CUT AND RUN
The ultimate goal of any mission is to find the boss, kill it and extract it with its bounty (known as a clean sweep), but it’s not the only thing that will provide you experience points. Every clue you find, every enemy you take and every hunter you kill will give you XP. Dying means you only keep half the points, so sometimes if you’ve killed a hunter or two and grabbed a few clues, it might be wise to just head to the extraction point and make a little progress, especially if another group is already banishing the boss you’ve been tracking.
5) DEATH IS INEVITABLE
In hunt, death can come quickly and suddenly. It can be very frustrating to lose a hunter that has a great set of upgrades, but try not to hold on too tightly to anything in hunt. There’s always a pool of new hunters waiting for you, and using the starting loadout on a fresh hunter can give you a good opportunity to try weapons that might have previously gotten lost in the shuffle for you. Use each death as a learning opportunity as well. On the death screen, you can click a button to see exactly where your opponent killed you from, which can teach you different angles and areas to watch out for next time. It’s usually worth your time to spectate your killer as well to see how others play the game.
These tips will give you a good basis to start from, but the best advice is to just play and learn. There’s no better teacher in this game than just plain experience. I’m not traditionally someone who plays a lot of multiplayer shooters, but I can feel myself improving little by little each game, making better tactical decisions and improving my reflexes.