Predator: Hunting Grounds Hands-On – If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It

Multiplayer games based on thriller franchises are gaining all sorts of traction lately. Dead by Daylight has seen everyone from Evil Dead’s Ash to Scream’s Ghost Killer to Halloween’s Michael Myers enter the fray. Let’s also not forget about Friday the 13th: The Game, which recently debuted on the Nintendo Switch with solid results. Now the team behind that latter effort, Illfonic, is hard at work on its next cinematic multiplayer title based on the Predator franchise.

Well, let’s be more specific here. Predator: Hunting Grounds isn’t based on the entire franchise, since it has nothing to do with Predator 2 or, thankfully, the latest entry in the series, The Predator. Instead, it focuses more on basics, with a set-up akin to the original 1987 film that started it all: John McTiernan’s Predator. Instead of simply making it a solo affair where players can hunt down soldiers with ease, Illfonic has a four-on-one multiplayer approach in mind.

Sony recently provided me the chance to go hands-on with the game, to get an idea of what it’s like. There are two sides to the story here: the Predator, and the poor (yet well-armed) mercenaries that are assigned with the near-impossible task of taking him down.

Setting the Stage

While Predator: Hunting Grounds is inspired by the classic film, it doesn’t take place in the same timeline. Yes, your group is in the jungle and the hunting rules apply. However, it’s set more with modern weaponry, including a number of rifles and other tools you can use to your credit on the human side.

Where the Predator game differs from others is with its pacing. There are some scary moments, like when the Predator eventually collects his “trophies” after cleaning house on a team, but this is more of an Evolve sort of affair rather than the previously mentioned survival games. The Fire Team – four soldiers each with their own roles – find themselves pitted against the intergalactic warrior.

The Mercenary Side

Now, when you’re playing as one of the four human mercenaries, you’ll not just have to contend with the Predator. As you start your mission, it revolves around enemy soldiers in a nearby camp, who will stop at nothing to defend their ground. So your team will begin by taking down these soldiers. By doing this, you’ll alert the Predator to your position and the hunt will essentially begin as a result.

There are a number of objectives that become available with each new start of the game. This includes securing Intel from certain areas of the camp or disabling equipment to avoid back-up being called in. These goals change frequently with each new match, so players won’t simply depend on going to the same spots to get missions completed. That randomization can make all the difference, mixing things up rather nicely.

What’s more, each character seems to have a special role on the human side, including CQB, assault, scout and sharpshooter. Along with certain aspects to each one, this also includes watching the backs of other teammates and getting to a crucial mission point while the others clean house on the AI soldiers. This is a good opportunity to work together as a team and take out the other elements that prove to be threats, before focusing on the real endgame with the Predator.

When it comes to controls, Predator handles like a typical first person shooter. Players can rank up, even as they fail to take down the creature in a tight spot. As a result, you’re able to rank up with weapons, and change your loadout however you see fit. Sometimes different tools may work better, so it doesn’t hurt to experiment. Just don’t dilly-dally too long, or the Predator track you down and take advantage of said distraction.

Enter the Predator

Then there’s the other part of the game, where you get to play as the legendary intergalactic Predator. This feels like a completely different part of Hunting Grounds, thanks to its own unique control set-up and the variety of items available to you.

This portion of the game feels a bit like Assassin’s Creed or Shadow of Mordor. You can keep track of your Predator on-screen at all times and also have a number of options when it comes to hunting down prey. This includes the thermal vision, a trademark from the film, to follow their trail and then turning on invisibility as you’re in hot pursuit. This leaves behind a very faint invisibility figure when you move, making it tougher for the on-ground mercenaries to kill you. It’s still possible for players to make a mistake as the Predator, so maybe watch your step as you keep track of things. Don’t turn off the cloak, stay out of sight, keep tabs, and find your moment to strike within the proper time frame allotted for the match.

There’s something about being able to see what’s happening from a third-person perspective with the Predator. You get a better idea of your surroundings; and what’s more, your aiming system seems a little more open than that of a first-person perspective.

This brings us to the weapons. The Plasmacaster is a great way to blast someone from afar, though it’s likely to give away your position if you fire off too many shots in a stretch. Fortunately, you can also use stealth with your cloaking device and make the kill personal with your wrist blade, which can stab someone and take them down very quickly and quietly, unless they notify their teammates of your position while they go down.

For each kill you score, you’ll earn a skull that you’ll be able to place on your belt. This is a great way to amass a reputation with other players online, but don’t think you’re invincible, because you’re not. As the title mentions above, the Predator can bleed, and it lets out a glowing green ooze that makes it fairly easy for mercenaries to track. If you take damage while playing as this creature, you’ll want to learn how to throw your adversaries off your trail long enough to recover and get back into the killing spirit.

Ah, but then there’s the “one last gasp” approach. Once defeated – or put into a state where the player decides it’s time to die – the mini-nuke can be activated. Like the film, it covers a great distance with a huge explosion, killing the Predator and anyone unfortunate enough to be near it. On a whim, players can set this off if they feel like they’re losing the match, and (provided they can take out the mercenaries that have been hunting after him) they could end up winning after all. There’s a certain blast zone to get out of. So, once activated, anyone playing as the human soldiers needs to run for their lives.

So Which Side Is Better Thus Far?

There’s something to be said about having a good four-player squad hunt after the Predator in Hunting Grounds. If you can work together as a tightly-knit group and figure out your strategies, that means you’ll stand a chance of surviving better and figuring out where to go next, blood trail and all. However, if you’re trying to play the game as a free-for-all, the Predator thrives on that. So maybe watch your step and don’t wander too far from the rest of the group.

As for the Predator, the gameplay feels much better. Instead of first-person controls, you have better adaptability in terms of what you can do with your character. Yes, we love what you can do with the “toys,” from the mini-nuke to the Plasmacaster, but personally, it’s those up-close kills with the wrist-blade that are the best. Assassin’s Creed fans will easily relate to that.

There’s also better opportunity to observe as the Predator while the human soldiers wipe out the dullard AI camps. Not only does this distract them as the Predator tries to figure out the layout, but it also alerts the Predator to where they are, so they can start planning where to attack. Just like in the movie. It’s actually pretty neat, especially if you’re a fan of its approach.

Is It Just the Forest You Battle In?

The one level I got to try out with my hands-on time with Hunting Grounds put me in what was called the “ancient forest.” It’s a terrain that matches that of the original film, so I was happy to see it included. Thus far, Illfonic is doing great stuff with the rendering and animations, not to mention the bloodshed. Considering that these guys took care of Friday the 13th a while back, I knew they wouldn’t hold back on the red stuff.

This is just the beginning. The team explained that a number of maps are available within the game, so there’s a possibility it’ll step outside of the forest. That’s not to confirm whether we’ll see a city level akin to where Predator 2 took place, but it’d be nice to throw in some new territory that poses a challenge to soldiers and the Predator alike. Hopefully we’ll see more of this as the game continues development.

Nailing the Predator

The cool thing about Predator: Hunting Grounds is that, although it’s more fun to play as the hunter in general, it’s cool how tension really builds with a good match. The mercenaries scamper for survival and use whatever weapons and tactics they have on hand to stay in one piece. In turn, the Predator skillfully sets up his attacks, and then finds a way to win the match, even if he’s near death.

That doesn’t mean the team at Illfonic doesn’t know how to have fun with it. The developers captured a good portion of the humor that was included in the 1987 film, including winks to the crowd that remember that piece of film history. Just take a good look at the cassette tape that plays in the “choppa” while the soldiers make their way to the camp, and you’ll get a good idea of what I mean.

Despite the setting sticking close to the first film, Illfonic has promised that it’s working closely with Fox to keep everything canon with the series in general. We’re not sure if that includes The Predator or not, but more than likely, we’ll see even more references to the series. That could possibly include designs of maps that have yet to be introduced, as well as possible characters from the franchise coming back.

Hunting Grounds still has a ways to go before it arrives, but PlayStation owners can expect it sometime in 2020, since it’ll be a published Sony exclusive. It’s still too early to tell just how deep into the lore the Predator game will go, but more than likely, Illfonic will hit on all the right nerves and make it a treat, no matter which side you play on.

For now, this looks to be another fun multiplayer romp. We’ll see how it shapes up over the next few months. In the meantime…maybe watch your step the next time you’re in a jungle, yeah? Who knows what kind of fierce creature could be watching from that tree branch above.

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Sony Stonewalling Cross-Platform Play for Fallout 76

If Fallout 76 cross-platform play options were what were steering your choice of which version of the upcoming MMO to pick up, then consider at least one platform out of the running. In an interview, director Todd Howard was rather blunt in admitting that the PS4 will not have cross-play on offer thanks once again to Sony.

fallout 76 cross-platform play

In a piece from German website Gamestar.de and translated by CNet, Howard explained that Sony refuses to play ball to allow cross-play with the Xbox One and PC editions of the Fallout MMO. “We’d really love that but right now we can’t,” said Howard. “Sony is not as helpful as everyone would like.”

When pressed for further comment, neither Sony nor Bethesda would elaborate on the matter at the time of this story’s writing.

The refusal to expand cross-platform features is par for the course for Sony’s PS4 and a source of recent consternation for players, particularly those who are fans of Fortnite. The most recent word out of Sony regarding the matter was an official statement to the BBC in the middle of June and Sony America’s CEO explaining the company is “looking at a lot of the possibilities” when asked during a conference near the end of June.

As for new developments about the game itself, there’s still nothing unique to report on that front, with the game sharing yet another piece of its complete E3 presentation in a separate video. This time, it’s about the game’s nuclear missile launch sites and their benefits, which you can watch below if you like.

Our Thoughts

Hey, cool, Sony wants to make sure it fences off people from one another in multiplayer games smoe more. Smart.

Source: Gamestar.de via CNet

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2017 Games Industry Revenue

Now that we’ve had a look at who is gaming and what types of games they like it’s time to dive into the market a little bit more. If you’re interested in the two previous articles about the gaming industry in 2017 I recommend having a look at 2017 Online Games Financial Review and 2017 Games Industry by the Numbers. They aren’t required reading for this article, but they do offer more beautiful data for you to consume. With that in mind, let’s start our look at 2017 games industry revenue.

The infographics used in this article were created by NewZoo and Filmora. The data was collected by NewZoo, Business Insider, and a number of esports dedicated sites. To make it easier to read we’ve broken the larger infographics up into individual segments. Not only does this make it easier to look at the data it means we can talk about each part one at a time.

 

Money Spent on Gaming

NewZoo and Filmora have slightly different takes on revenue and spending. Filmora’s graph is how much money will have been and will be spent on games while NewZoo focuses on revenue. While I am including them both and comparing them I would put more faith in NewZoo’s information than Filmora’s.

In 2017 money spent on mobile gaming was $46.1 billion, that’s 42% of all gaming spending, which was at $108.9 billion. By 2020 it is anticipated that mobile spending will make up 50% of all money spent on gaming globally. The interesting thing that this chart includes is the Browser PC game market. The browser-based gaming scene has been shrinking for a long time now and we can see that currently, it makes up just 4% of the market. This is largely due to the horrible reputation browser games have for being cheap, poorly made money grabs.

 

Meanwhile, NewZoo says that there was $121.7 billion in revenue in 2017, and 46% of that being from mobile games. NewZoo doesn’t account for browser games separately from PC games. NewZoo states that more than half of gaming revenue will come from mobile games starting this year. With both the PC and console share of the market going down slowly over time. By 2021 mobile gaming is going to be a 100 billion dollar market. If you read 2017 Games Industry by the Numbers you might remember that most of that mobile growth will take place in the Asia-Pacific market. With mobile gaming’s strength only continuing to grow it is safe to assume that we will be seeing a whole lot more mobile games coming in the future.

 

Top Companies by Revenue

All of this brings us now to a big question, which companies are making the most money? Leading the pack is the current big spender: Tencent. The company has its fingers all over the gaming industry. It owns a part of Elite Dangerous’ creators Frontier, they’re working with NCSoft for a Blade & Soul Game, and yes, they’re bringing Fortnite to China. Some fantastic business choices along with making games that are beloved in Asia-Pacific region means Tencent is king and by a significant margin. With nearly half the revenue of Tencent, the next on the list is Sony. The biggest surprise of the whole list is Google. Although they’re known for many things, including making the internet run, gaming isn’t one of the things you usually think of.

 

Best Selling Video Games in the World

Tetris was first released in 1984 and since then it has been a cultural cornerstone for the gaming industry. Today it is the best selling video game in the world. Newcomer (at least compared to Tetris) PUBG also makes the top ten best selling video games in the world. The list doesn’t really hold many surprises if you’re familiar with the industry. Unfortunately, because Filmora doesn’t actually explain the data it can be hard to understand what we’re looking at. But a quick Google search shows that Tetris has sold 170 million copies. So that’s what we’re looking at. Minecraft is quickly catching up with Tetris, will it be able to pass it? I honestly couldn’t say. The Minecraft scene is a deep hole I dare not jump down else I may never return. The biggest thing Tetris has going for it is that is a casual game that has stood the test of time. A new Tetris game is released nearly every year at this rate, with many titles usually coming out in one year. But, the last one was released in 2014 its hold on the market will start to slip.

 

Games Market by Device

Finally, just to expand on some information we’ve already talked about, we can look at how the PC and mobile markets break down by device. I’m not entirely sure why NewZoo didn’t do this for console as well, but we’ll work with what we have.

Just 10% of the mobile market is tablet games. That’s still 13.9 billion dollars, but that’s not an amazing number. The vast majority of the market is taken up by smartphones. This isn’t too much of a surprise really as almost everyone, no matter their age has a smartphone, while tablets are a little more niche.

Over on the PC side of the industry NewZoo is saying that browser games make up 3% of the market in 2018. That’s 1% lower than what Filmora said in the previous chart. The rest of the PC market is taken up by boxed and digital sales, because…what else is there? Again, it would have been nice to see the breakdown go even further to include the boxed sales separately.

 

So there we have it, the third installment of the 2017 games business review is done. Tencent is king of the world, mobile gaming is still getting bigger, and things are looking good all around. We have one last article coming out in the next couple of days. The final one will be focused entirely on esports.

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